Colossae Archaeological Site
In addition to the two major ancient cities near the Denizli region (Hierapolis and Laodicea), the site of Colossae is also rich in historical and biblical history. The site is located about 20 km (12.5 miles) east of Denizli's city center. As it stands today, the site is only a “tell” which means it is an unexcavated mound. You can hike around the area which would have served as the acropolis, and you can also distinguish the remains of the cavea of a small theater. There is also a necropolis scattered to the north of the tell.
Admission to the site is free. The easiest way to get to the site is to drive yourself or take a taxi. Follow signs to Colossae, and there will be a brown sign and a small guardhouse that marks the entrance the site. There are a few paths that you can walk around as you explore the site, but this should take you no longer than thirty minutes.
It has been recently announced that excavations will soon commence under the direction of Dr. Barış Yener of Pamukkale University with preliminary surveys having already been conducted. It is hoped that these excavations will help to shed light on this important ancient biblical site.
Colossae is known for a rich history and was mentioned by the ancient historian Herodotus as being a great city in the 5th century BC. Several notable Persian rulers passed through the city as well. Although known for its red dyed wool export, the city began to suffer a decline in the 3rd century with the founding of the city of Laodicea.
Colossae is particularly known for being addressed in two of Apostle Paul’s epistles. The book of Colossians is directly addressed to the early church which had formed in the city and he encourages the local church to “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2-3). Colossae was also the place where Philemon hosted a house church. Paul’s letter to Philemon encourages him to be gracious to his returning slave Onesimus and treat him as a brother in Christ.
Overall, while there is not much to observe at the site, it still marks an important place for the early church and holds mysteries which are just waiting to be uncovered.
—by Caleb Bowman
For more information:
Altuntaş, Leman. “Colossae Ancient City Excavation Works Begin.” Arkeonews, September 8, 2022.
Arnold, Clinton E. “Plans Underway to Excavate Colossae.” The Good Book Blog, February 3, 2022.
Wilson, Mark. Biblical Turkey: A Guide to the Jewish and Christian Sites of Asia Minor. Istanbul: Yayinlari, 2020.