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Aphrodisias

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The ancient city of Aphrodisias, once the capital of the province of Lydia, is located near the village of Geyre in the district of Karacasu 38 km south of Nazilli.In ancient times, the attractive marble buildings of Aphrodisias no doubt shone out, as they do now, from amidst the rich vegetation of the Dandalaz valley with its almond, pomegranate and poplar trees.

The wealth and cultural and political importance of the city is clearly attested by the size and magnificence of the buildings of which it is composed.The name Aphrodisias is derived from Aphrodite, the goddess of nature, beauty, love and plenty, and was one of the most famous cult centres of the goddess.

But this was not the original name of the city. According to the historian Stephanus it was founded by the Lelegians and was first known as Lelegonopolis.The name of the city was later changed to Megalopolis, and later again to Ninoe after Ninos, the King of Assyria.

Aphrodisias was one of the foremost cities of the age, surrounded by fertile fields producing every type of foodstuff.

It also possessed a flourishing wool and cotton industry, highly developed commercial, political, religious and cultural institutions ,very fine tradition of arts and crafts, world-famous schools of philosophy and sculpture and a large and energetic body of citizens.

The decline of the city was hastened by an unfortunate incident that took place in the 7th century. The reign of the Emperor Heraclius (610-641 ) was marked by Arab raids and incursions from the East, religious disputes, political and economic pressures and a number of epidemics causing great loss of life, but the final stroke was dealt by a devastating earthquake.

The damage caused to the buildings by this earthquake is still plainly visible. Some of the most imposing buildings were destroyed .

Very little is known of the history of the city after the 7th century, sources of information being confined to a few religious documents and lists of the names of the bishops. Archaeological finds, however, would appear to point to a short lived revival in the 11th century.

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