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Ancient Colossae Co-los'sse, in KJV Colosse. (near Khonai, Turkey) Colossae
was a city of southwestern Phrygia in Asia Minor, not far from the rivers Lycos
and Meander. In antiquity Colossae was on the trade route (from Ephesus to the
Euphrates River) heading east and was a
very important city. During the time of the Roman Empire the road system changed
and neighboring cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis became more important.
Colossae was famous for its fine wool, and it was declared "free" under the
Romans. It is not recorded that Paul the Apostle had visited Colossae when he
wrote the Book of Colossians (Colossians 1:2, Colossians 2:1), since he tells
Philemon of his hope to visit it upon being freed from prison (Philemon 1:22).
It appears that Epaphras was the founder of the Colossian church (Colossians
Col. 1:2 - To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossae (Κολοσσαί). Once an important city of Great Phrygia, on the
river Lycus , but so reduced subsequently that it might have been forgotten but
for the epistle written to its inhabitants by the Apostle. - Harpers Dictionary of
Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers.
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COLOSSAE (Κολοσσαί: Eth. Κολοσσηνός, Κο-λοσσαεύς), a city of Phrygia, first
mentioned by Herodotus (7.30) as a large city of Phrygia, on the Lycus, a branch
of the Maeander. Xerxes, on his march to Sardes, B.C. 481, reached Colossae
after leaving Anaua. [ANAUA] The younger Cyrus, on his march from Sardes towards
the Euphrates, B.C. 401, passed through Colossae. He crossed the Maeander, and
after a march through Phrygia of 8 parasangs from the river, he came to
Colossae, a large and prosperous city. (Anab. 1.2.6, &c.) The march of Cyrus
from Colossae to Celaenae was 20 parasangs. The position of Colossae south of
the Maeander is determined by these two authorities. Strabo (pp. 576--578)
places Colossae near Laodiceia on the Lycus. In his time Apameia Cibotus and
Laodiceia were the largest cities in this part of Phrygia. Laodiceia was then
the chief town of a conventus, to which Colossae and more than twenty other
towns belonged. Both Laodiceia and Colossae were famed for their wool, and the
people of Colossae also derived a great profit from their skill in dyeing it.
(See Groskurd's note on the passage of Strabo, p. 578; Transl. Strab. vol. ii.
p. 533.) The upper valley of the Maeander was a sheep-feeding country.
Colossae had become a place of comparatively little importance in Strabo's time.
In the middle ages there arose near it a town called Chonae (Χῶναι, or Χοναί),
and Colossae disappeared. Chonae was the birthplace of Nicetas Choniates, one of
the Byzantine historians. East of Denizli there is a place now called Khonos, or
Chonos, situated at the base of the mountain range of Cadmus. Arundell (Asia
Minor, vol. ii. p. 159, &c.) supposes that Khonos, which is certainly the site
of Chonae, is also the site of Colossae; and that the name Chonae superseded
that of Colossae under the Byzantine Empire. His description is not clear.
Hamilton (Researches, &c. vol. i. p. 508) found extensive ruins of an ancient
city about three miles north of Khonos. On this site are large blocks of stone,
foundations of buildings, and fragments of columns, architraves and cornices. He
also found “the hollow cavea of a theatre, built on the side of a low sloping
hill, and of which several seats were still in situ.” He does not mention any
inscriptions. Herodotus says that the Lycus disappears in Colonae by sinking
into a cleft (χάσμα γῆς), and after running about five stadia under ground it
appears again and flows into the Maeander. If this cleft or hole can be
determined, we may be pretty certain that we have ascertained the site of
Colossae. Hamilton, who examined the ground carefully, found the necropolis or
burying place of this city, of which we have spoken, to be on one side of a
river, and the theatre and other ruins on the opposite side. There is a bridge,
which crosses a rapid stream, flowing from east to west; and this river is
“formed by the junction of three rivers, which unite their waters immediately
above the bridge.” The chief stream is called the Tchoruk, which Hamilton
supposes to be the Lycus. Another stream is called Ak-su (white water), and
possesses highly petrifying qualities. Below the bridge is a narrow gorge,
through which the waters of the united rivers flow. He found that the Ak-su had
once fallen into the Lycus lower down than where it now does, exactly at the
place where the chasm is narrowest. Another large stream falls over the cliff on
the south side of the river, or the side opposite to the Ak-su which runs from
the NW. This river has also the same qualities as the Ak-su, and makes a great
deposit, forming cliffs of travertine, and burying the plants and other
substances that are in its way. This operation is going on rapidly, and the
cliffs on each side have been formed by it. Hamilton adds, “it is evident, that
if the water always flowed in the same channel, these cliffs would approach each
other, and continue to overhang the river until a natural bridge were completed
by the touching of the opposite sides, while the arch or passage of the river
below would be kept clear, the rapidity of the stream not allowing the deposit
of the calcareous matter. It is indeed most apparent that this has been the
case, that the two cliffs have been here joined, and thus formed the χάσμα γῆς,
through which, as Herodotus [1.649] reports, the water flowed by a subterranean
channel for half a mile, the soft crust having been in all probability
subsequently broken up by an earthquake. In the hollow below the bridge are
several mills, which are turned by the petrifying stream of the Ak-su; in
consequence of the rapid accumulation of calcareous matter, it has been
frequently necessary to change their position; they would otherwise be soon
choked up, and buried in the calcareous silt deposited round them by the spray
and overflowings of the mill stream.” This very clear and instructive
explanation, founded on the examination of the spot by a practised eye, leaves
no doubt about the conclusion, that this is the spot within Colossae which
Herodotus describes, though, as Hamilton observes, it may still be doubted
whether the Lycus is the river which now flows through the centre of the plain,
or the Ak-su. This, however, is not very material: one of these streams is
certainly the Lycus. The passage in Pliny (31.2) is now fully explained: “at
Colossae there is a stream, into which if bricks are thrown, they come out
stones.” Hamilton observes that the Ak-su, which joins the Tchoruk in the centre
of the town, would soon cover a brick with a thick incrustation, and even fill
the pores by infiltration. This is, no doubt, what Pliny means.
Colossae was one of the early Christian churches of Asia, and the apostle Paul
addressed one of his epistles to the people of this place. It does not appear
from the epistle that he visited Colossae, and an expression (1.3, 4) has been
cited to show that he had not been there; and also another (2.1). But the want
of words to prove directly that he was at Colossae, does not justify the
conclusion that he never was there, especially as we know that he went over all
the country of Galatia and Phrygia.
The epigraph on the coins of Colossae is δημος Κολοσσηνων. - Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography,
William Smith, LLD, Ed.
Colossae or Colosse (also known as Chonae or Kona; Greek: Κολοσσαί,
Χωναί/Χῶναι), was an ancient city of Phrygia, on the Lycus, which is a tributary
of the Maeander River. It was situated about 12 miles above Laodicea, and near
the great road from Ephesus to the Euphrates. The site, located near the modern
town of Honaz in Turkey, has never been excavated.
Ancient History. In 396 B.C., during the Persian Wars, the satrap
Tissaphernes was lured to Colossae and slain by an agent of the party of Cyrus
the Younger. Pliny tells that the wool of Colossae gave its name (colossinus) to
the colour of the cyclamen flower. During the Hellenistic period, the town was
of some mercantile importance, although by the first century it had dwindled
greatly in size and significance.
It does not appear that St. Paul had visited this city when he wrote his Epistle
to the Colossians there (Col. 1:2, Col. 2:1), since he tells Philemon of his
hope to visit it upon being freed from prison (see Philemon 1:22). It seems that
Epaphras was the founder of the Colossian church (see Col. 1:7; 4:12).
This town fell into decay (possibly due to an earthquake) and the Byzantine town
of Chonæ occupied a site near its ruins. A look at the classical, Byzantine, and
otherwise medieval literature mentioning the site reveals a name change for part
or all of Colossae to Cona or Chonae. The town was the birthplace of the
Byzantine Greek writers Nicetas and Michael Choniates. -
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