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The Water Springs of Laodicea and its Distribution Systems

The ancient site of Laodicea is located on low hills at the crossing point of main roads which connect western, central and southern Anatolia. Three rivers surround the site: Çürüksu (Lycos) to the north-east, Başlı Çay (Capros) to the south-east and Gümüş Çay (Asopos) to the north-west. The ancient site is located on a high platform between these rivers. Originally there existed no water on this platform. Due to this, fountains (which are still active today) supplied the necessary water from two rivers to the south. Water pipes indicate that the Kara Hüseyin Pınarı spring, 3 km away from the site also supplied some water. The main supply, however, came from the larger Başpınar spring, approximately 8 km from the site at a height of 443 m. The distance to the unification point of the Başpınar and Kara Hüseyin Pınarı springs is 5 km. From there, the line leading towards Laodicea is 3 km long. Along this route, which can still be followed easily, a section of the two-row water pipe-line was removed during the construction of the foundations for the water purification system of the main part of the modern town of Denizli in the 1990s. In addition to this removed part, there was an uncovered travertine canal system.

Further on, only the feet of the aqueducts have remained until modern times, as visible in the engravings of De Laborde (1838).

After this, the travertine pipes, which are known as symbols of Laodicean water supply, have remained "in situ" on the slope near the Eskihisar village. The water was brought to the site in two lines and was connected to two distribution terminals placed also on the site. The terminal to the south lies on a level of 278 m. The other is about 430 m away from this to the north and lies on a level of 291 m.

Although most of the travertine pipes supplying water to the ancient site of Laodicea are rectangular, cylindrical shapes were also used, but rarely.

The heavy calcification in the pipes of the distribution line is a result of the high quantity of lime in the water of this region. Due to this, the pipes must have been blocked and therefore changed frequently in ancient times.

The four fountains are visible in the city of Laodicea, which name is the stadium nymphaeum, the west agora nymphaeum, Caracalla nymphaeum and Septimius Severus nymphaeum. The Septimius Severus nymphaeum was constructed with a rectangular basin surrounded on three sides by walls with pillared fronts, which was built two different orders.

Water was the most important vital source for Laodicea, which developed on the low platform in the centre of the Lycos Plain. One of the principal reasons for the heavy- evacuation of the site in the 7th century AD was caused by the breakdown of this water supply system.

*Doç. Dr. Celal Şimşek - Yard. Doç. Dr. Mustafa Büyükkolancı, Pamukkale Üniversitesi, fen-Edebiyat Fakültesi, Arkeoloji Bölümü, Denizli
E-posta: csimsek@pamukkale.edu.tr