Laodicea was a city of Asia Minor situated in the Lycos valley in the province of Phrygia, and the home of one of the Seven Churches of Re (1:11). Distinguished from several other cities of that name by the appellation Ad Lycum, it was founded by Antiochus II (261-246 BC) of Syria, who named it for his wife Laodike, and who populated it with Syrians and with Jews who were transplanted from Babylonia to the cities of Phrygia and Lydia. Though Laodicea stood on the great highway at the junction of several important routes, it was a place of little consequence until the Roman province of Asia was formed in 190 BC. It then suddenly became a great and wealthy center of industry, famous specially for the fine black wool of its sheep and for the Phrygian powder for the eyes, which was manufactured there (compare Revelation 3:18). In the vicinity was the temple of Men Karou and a renowned school of medicine. In the year 60 AD, the city was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake, but so wealthy were its citizens that they rejected the proffered aid of Rome, and quickly rebuilt it at their own expense (compare Revelation 3:17). It was a city of great wealth, with extensive banking operations (compare Revelation 3:18). Little is known of the early history of Christianity there; Timothy, Mark and Epaphras (Colossians 1:7) seem to have been the first to introduce it. However, Laodicea was early the chief bishopric of Phrygia, and about 166 AD Sagaris, its bishop, was martyred. In 1071 the city was taken by the Seljuks; in 1119 it was recovered to the Christians by John Comnenus, and in the 13th century it fell finally into the hands of the Turks.
The ruins, now called Eski Hissar, or old castle, lie near the modern Gonjelli on the railroad, and they have long served as a quarry to the builders of the neighboring town of Denizli. Among them nothing from before the Roman period has appeared. One of the two Roman theaters is remarkably well preserved, and there may still be seen the stadium, a colonnade, the aqueduct which brought the water across the valley to the city by an inverted siphon of stone pipes, a large necropolis, and the ruins of three early Christian churches.
E. J. Banks
From: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915): Public Domain