According to the writings of Pliny the Younger, the city was built on the site of the village of Diaspolis. This is disputed, however, and is not generally believed to be true by authorities. The most probable genesis is attributed to the Syrian king Antiachus II, who named the city after his wife Laodice. According to various accounts, Antiochus acted on the command of the Greek supreme deity, Zeus, os transmitted through an Apolionic oracle. This places the foundation of the city between 261 B.C., when Antiochus assumed the kingship, and 253 B.C., when he divorced Loodice.
The city showed relatively little evidence of importance until the first century B.C., when the woollen and cloth Industry flourished, The wool, especially, was much in demand; its quality was extremely good, ond the softness was remarkable. In addition, it was charactur-ized by a raven-black caioi’, which was widely attributed to the water that the sheep drank.
In 188 B.C., the city became part of the kingdom of Pergam-mum, through the Treaty of Apamea. And 59 years later, in 129, it became part of the province of Asia, During the first Mithrfdtic War (88-35 B.C.), the city resisted ond was beseiged. No serious damage was done, however, and the city continued to prosper
In 60 A.D., the city sufferd badly from an earthquake. However, she was sufficiently wealthy In herself to rebuild without heip from Imperial Rome. In Laodicea greatest prosperity existed towards the end of the second century A.D. At this time, she was named tneco-rusi, or «Temple-Warden» by the Emperor Commodus. This was a coveted honor that brought wealth as well as reputation to the city. The title was withdrawn on the Emperor’s death, but was reinstated some years later by the Emperor Caracalla, The city was then given the title of «Tempie-Warden of Commodus and Caracallat.
Various coins ond inscriptions reveal that numerous religious cults were in existence at Loodiceo, especially during its first few centuries of existence. That of Zeus was prominent, and understandably so, as he was the chief deity. Also much worshipped was the Anatolian moon-god, Men; his cult was widespread throughout ali of Asia Minor. In addition to such fictional deities, worship of the Emperors and deified Rome was aiso common.
From the time of the first century B.C., an active colony of Jews existed in Laodicea. Freedom of worship was promised to them by city officials, but they were still occasionally harassed. On occasion, funds that were gathered to be sent to the church treasury in Jerusalem, were confiscated and placed in Laodiceian public coffers,
Christianity came to the area in the time of St. Paul; it was brought by Ephesus of Colossae. From Biblical and other documents, it seems that the citizens of the city held a very lukewarm attitude to the new religion. The early missionaries believed that this stemmed from their wealth, and exhorted them to share. In spite of the amblva ent nature of the brethren, Laodicea was the seat of a bishopric, and hosted an important Ecumenical Council in the fourth century A.D. in addition to this, it was named in Revelations as one of the Seven Churches of the .Apocalypse.
Laodicea’s prosperity continued until 494 A.D, At that time. It suffered devastating earthquake from which it never completely recovered although It continued to be Inhabited until the twelfth century.