Biblical Archaeology Review 36:3, May/June 2010

Godfearers in the City of Love

By Angelos Chaniotis

In Roman times, Aphrodisias in the southwest of Asia Minor (modern Turkey) was the city of Aphrodite, goddess of love. It was also a city of marble, abundantly available in excellent quality from nearby quarries. The monumental marble gate of the sanctuary of Aphrodite (the tetrapylon) has now been magnificently restored. Beyond are the meager remains of the goddess’s temple.

Sometime after the city became largely Christian in the late fifth century C.E., the temple of Aphrodite was transformed into a Christian basilica. By the seventh century, the name of the city had become an embarrassment and it was changed to Stavropolis (“City of the Cross”). In the Byzantine period, Stavropolis was the seat of the bishop of Caria.

In addition to the ruins of the temple of Aphrodite, the city boasts one of the best-preserved stadiums in antiquity, an impressive theater and a building complex dedicated to the worship of the Roman emperors (the Sebasteion).

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