Colossae Ancient City

Colossae Ancient City

Colossae, an ancient city located in Phrygia, was situated just 120 miles away from Ephesus on the great trade route running between Ephesus and the Euphrates. It was one of the three Christian cities situated in the Lycus Valley. However, Colossae faced more challenges compared to its peers due to natural disasters such as earthquakes. Laodicea was located 9 miles west-northwest and Hierapolis was 12 miles northwards from Colossae. Although Colossae achieved city status first, these other two towns eventually became significant destinations for pilgrims and healing sites.

Our knowledge of Colossae is limited to the study of coins and related materials, as well as comments made by ancient writers. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, it was a "large city of Phrygia" (5th century BC), and Xenophon mentions its size as large and prosperous. However, in Hellenistic times, rivalry arose between Laodicea and Hierapolis, which ultimately diminished Colossae's importance.

The majority of the population in Colossae was Phrygian, but the letter to the Colossians suggests the presence of a Jewish colony. At least 11,000 adult male Jews lived in the district in 62 BC, with Laodicea serving as the capital. These Jews were descended from 2,000 families transported from Babylon in about 213 BC by Antiochus III.

Although Paul sent two letters to Colossae, he may not have visited the city himself. In one letter, he wrote, "I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally" (Colossians 2:1).

Despite Colossae's biblical significance, its site has never been excavated. The ruins of the city are visible on the south bank of the Lycus River, and surveys have revealed remains on a defensive wall and in a pit lined with stones to the west, on an acropolis to the east, and among a cemetery to the north of the Lycus River.