Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Laodicea, Turkey

Laodicea, in Asia Minor, was the seventh and final church to receive a letter from the Apostle John. At that time the Christian community in Laodicea was considered to be 'rather luke warm' and this was reflected in the message received 'Behold I stand at the door and knock'. I am reminded that when my granddaughter was at Oxford University, her college, Keble, owns a painting done by Pre-raphaelite artist, William Holman Hunt - The Light of the World. This painting is based on that message sent to Laodicea in Revelations 3:20 
William Holman Hunt - The Light of the World
Excavation work at Laodicea began about 10 years ago, and it is anticipated that when completed its importance and interest could equal that of  Ephesus. 
Being a significant Christian center there was great excitement when archaeologists discovered a church structure built during the reign of Constantine (306-337) using ground penetrating radar. The church is in the process of being unearthed and the cross shaped marble baptistery appears to be one of the oldest and best preserved ever discovered.

via 
Stained glass window painted by C15th glazier and painter - John Thornton
The Seven Churches mentioned in the Book of  Revelations are shown in this medieval East Window at York Minster - St. John in the lefthand corner is being instructed by an angel to write to the seven about his vision. The seven churches were in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, the seventh and final one being Laodicea
We arrived in Laodicea during 'golden hour' just before sunset and had it almost to ourselves
The city was laid out on a grid system, and rather topically this is 'Syria Street'

Eventually the great temple that stood here - a Prostyle Temple of Corinthian order surrounded with porticoes, will be rebuilt 
The excavated remains lie scattered across the site, all are numbered and logged - I imagine that it will take years to both reassemble and reinstate the missing parts
These pillars are in the process of being reassembled with inserts of new marble. The new marble is a different colour which has been done purposefully in order to show an honest reconstruction
 So far over 3,000 ancient artifacts have been excavated in the city, amongst them the sculptured heads of Augustus, Dionysus, Aphrodite, and Zeus
As we left the site in fading light one of the cranes was still busily lifting pieces of stone ready for reassembly. In years to come a Museum will be built here, and filled with the many valuable sculptures and artifacts discovered todate. This raises the prospect of an exciting and fascinating archaelogical experience for visitors in the future .

36 comments:

  1. Golden hour indeed.. that light is fabulous. And how fascinating to witness a site of that significance in the process of excavation and restoration.

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    1. It was lovely having it all to ourselves as the sun went down on the horizon

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  2. How wonderful to know that Laodicea is being unearthed and restored in this way. It certainly does look both golden and beautiful. It is exciting to know new discoveries continue to be found, especially the early Christian church. I will watch out for more information on that as it comes to public attention. I have always been intrigued by Holman Hunts 'The Light of the World', because it is so difference from the usual representations of Christ. It is so interesting that its origin lies in the letter of John to the people of Laodicia. Thank you for another fascinating glimpse of Turkey.

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    1. It was like a voyage of discovery as I wrote this post. Items such as the painting in Oxford and the medieval window in York suddenly fell into place and held a much greater significance for me following this visit to Laodicea.

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  3. So interesting and impressive how they are reassembling the marble pieces. The painting of The Light of the World is brilliant. It is as if the painting emits light, beautiful!

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    1. Holman Hunt did two paintings on this subject - the original hangs in Oxford. He did a second one towards the end of his life which is much bigger and that hangs in St.Pauls, London.

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  4. Hello Rosemary, There is something fascinating about ruins--in this case, all those columns and architectural fragments distributed around. It's surprising that more of them haven't been carted away. Some of the small standing segments make me nervous, as though they are about to fall at any moment. I am sure that the completed project will be as well-secured as it is impressive.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - there were piles of stones standing about 2 metres high rather like parts of a jigsaw puzzle. All of the precious finds are safely hidden away under lock and key.

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  5. "An honest reconstruction" -- I like that phrase!

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  6. Wow it doesn't look as if you could have chosen a better time to visit here. It looks so beautiful in the early evening light. Sarah x

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    1. We just had enough time to explore the site before the sun finally said goodbye.

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  7. Beautiful is the light in that 'hour'. It's pleasing that it's being restored to a degree.

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    1. Its like a huge jigsaw puzzle that will take years to complete

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  8. Amazingly beautiful, leaves you in awe , and the time of visit was perfect with that golden light !

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    1. The are so many sites from antiquity in Turkey that have lain hidden for millenia.

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  9. My goodness that really is an amazing puzzle of parts to reassemble isn't it. I think that it will be amazing to see when it is put back and that it is good that they are "showing the repairs", I think that is the right and as you said honest thing to do isn't it. Beautiful flowers at the start of the post too! xx

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    1. In the years to come it will attract visitors from around the world to see these treasures from a long gone age.

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  10. Sounds like you were there at the perfect time. I really like the glow casted on the stones by the setting sun.

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    1. It made a change from my usual Turkish archaelogical images which normally have a brilliant blue sky as their background.

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  11. Dear Rosemary, These photographs are fabulous. Especially those photographs where the sun hits history at just the right angle.
    So many of these photographs remind me of the special places (Ephesus comes to mind) where we used to travel. It now feels like the world is getting smaller. So many far away places where we dare not go.

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    1. Dear Gina - I think that we have now done most of the major sites in Turkey so perhaps we need to caste our eyes elsewhere. I actually dont have any fears about travelling, my only hesitation is that we can keep ourselves fit and healthy enough to cope. It is more of a challenge the older you get.

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  12. The beautiful stained glass. For me, the last state of the church in which is is worth seeing. Regards.

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    1. That medieval window in York Minster is a beautiful piece of work.

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  13. How pleasing to have arrived at a time of day when you had the site to yourselves. The golden light creates a special atmosphere. It's interesting to compare the modern crane being used to move and lift architectural blocks with the old mechanism used on the Sardis site. Reconstruction work must be a slow, precise process. The fact that the church has been unearthed is also of worldwide interest. I remember seeing Holman Hunt's painting in St. Paul's Cathedral and knew the connection with the scripture in The Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ. I have my late mother's framed reproduction of it. I didn't know about the stained glass window which will be something to look out for if I revisit York Minster.

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    1. The painting in St.Paul's is the second painting Holman Hunt did of the Light of the World - the one at Keble is small compared to the lifesize Christ in St. Paul's.

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  14. Beautiful pictures Rosemary...Thank´s for sharing this with us!
    Have a lovely weekend and take care.
    Warm hug,
    Titti

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    1. Thanks Titti for your kind comment♡

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  15. I am looking at the heavy lifting equipment in the last image and wonder how those large columns were originally assembled. Certainly with a lot of backbreaking labor! How wonderful it must have been to have the whole site almost to yourselves right at sunset.

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    1. Hello Jennifer - that is a question I have ask myself often when viewing these wonders from our ancient past - for example I think about the Great Pyramids, Stonehenge, our soaring medieval cathedrals and these imposing temples.

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  16. The time before sunset is a magical hour - the light so beautiful, less harsh, and tinting everything in subtle gold. You were lucky to see all this - and I admire your faculty to really "see" what is in front of you!

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    1. When I wander around these sites from antiquity I often wish that I could take a time travel trip back to see how it all once looked.

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  17. I only know one other person who has been to Turkey (and she only fleetingly as part of a Mediterranean cruise) and as far as I'm concerned, Rosemary, you are part of a very exclusive club. :) Thank you for sharing your trip with us. Love the pictures in this post - especially those of Laodicea and the reconstruction going on there. It is a wonderful thing to look forward to.

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    1. Over the past four years we have visited many different areas of Turkey and it never disappoints. It has held us in awe at the architecture and tales from antiquity that we have heard and seen.

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  18. Lovely photos. You really have the "camera eyes".

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    1. You are very generous with your comment - thank you

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