Colossae Ancient City

Colossae Ancient City

Colossae is a city that was located in the ancient Phrygia and was just 120 miles away from Ephesus. Travelers can encounter Colossae while traveling east on the great trade route which runs between Ephesus to the Euphrates. Colossae was one of three Christian cities located in the fertile Lycus Valley, but it faced more challenges than its peers as a result of natural disasters like earthquakes. Laodicea was 9 miles west-northwest and Hierapolis 12 miles northwards from Colossae; while Colossae achieved city status first, these other two towns eventually become important destinations for pilgrims and healing sites.

What little we know of Colossae comes from the study of coins and related materials, and comments made by ancient writers. Greek historian Herodotus listed it as a "large city of Phrygia" (5th century BC) and Xenophon mentions its size as large and prosperous. But in Hellenistic times rivalry arose between Laodicea and Hierapolis that eventually diminished its importance.

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

While Paul sent two letters to Colossae, he may not have visited the city. "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," he wrote in one letter.(Colossians 2:1)

Given the biblical significance of Colossae, it is surprising that 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 defensives wall and in a pit lined with stones to the west;on an acropolis to east side and among a cemetery (city of dead or cemetery) north from Lycus River.