The Lycus Valley is a large,long, lush valley which includes three ancient cities of importance for Christianity— Hierapolis (which we will visit first), Laodicea, and Colossae (which we will not visit, as no dig has ever transpired there, and there is just a small mound of dirt there. We have found evidence of an odeon there sticking out of the side of the hill, but that’s it).
Hierapolis is important as a center of early Christianity, including the final home of Philip and his prophesying daughters, probably Philip the Evangelist mentioned in Acts, not Philip a member of the Twelve. These were two different persons. But it was also the home of Bishop Papias, one of the first commentators on our Gospels, about whom we will say more soon.
What Hierapolis is famous for today is its calcified limestone cliffs, called Pammukale, (cotton candy), and as in antiquity people come here for the hot springs, and for healing. Of course the irony is, many simply come here and die, so there is a gigantic necropolis on the north side of Hierapolis. But first the cliffs… Dover move over.
In this last picture you can see the Lycus valley clearly, which proved to be such a fertile ground for the growth of Christianity.
And the masons made all sorts of tombs— subterranean ones, above ground ones, square ones, ones with round tombs. You name it, they made it, according to the wishes of the bereaved who had money to spend.
Sometimes a whole family dining scene is shown, and here is where I say many ancients believed their loved ones survived death, and so there were funerary meals actually held on the tomb of the deceased, and there were pouring spots into the tomb to serve the deceased some wine.
For our purposes what is very important is this funerary monument to one Papias Klesos, who is called a good or worthy shepherd (chrestos) is used), and he sends grace to passersby who see his monument. This may well be our Papias, as mere literal shepherds didn’t get monuments like this.
I haven’t even talked about the Martyrium of Philip, with recent discoveries up on the hill above the theater, or the Plutonium and the adjacent Temple of Apollo. They will have to wait for another time.