Rare traces of prehistoric occupation of the plateau (fragments of obsidian). Development of a cult site around the cave of the Plutonion. Town of Kydrara on the site of the later city of Hierapolis.


Before the Foundation

Rare traces of prehistoric occupation of the plateau (fragments of obsidian).
Development of a cult site around the cave of the Plutonion.
Town of Kydrara on the site of the later city of Hierapolis.

Third century BC

Control of the region by the Hellenistic Kingdom of the Seleucids and Probable foundation of the city. The names of the tribes incised on the theatre indeed refer to the Seleucid dynasty based on the capital at Antioch.
The name Hierapolis signifies ‘the holy city’ because of the religious traditions that developed around the sacred cave.

Cult of Apollo Archegetes, protector of the new Hellenic colonies.

190 BC

Battle of Magnesia: Rome and King Eumenes II of Pergamum, as allies, defeat the Seleucid King Antiochus III.

188 BC

the Peace of Apamea in Syria: Asia Minor, up to the Taurus mountains, is assigned to the Arrlid dynasty, and thus Hierapolis becomes part of the kingdom of Pergamum. The city emits a decree in honour of Apollonides, Queen of Pergamum and wife of Attalus I, after his death aroun 165 BC.

133 BC

King Attalus III of Pergamum bequethes his kingdom, including Hierapolis, to Rome.

The city is assigned to the juridical circumscription, which capital was at Cibyra.

From The Second Century BC To The Century AD

Development of industrial activities, in particular those regarding wool production and the dyeing of textiles.

Strabo (Augustan times) refers to the hot waters which have the property of fixing colours to woollen weaves; a plant(the madder root) produced a red dye, similar to purple but a lot cheaper,. In Julio-Claudian times (first half of the first century AD) the heroon or so-called “Tomba Bela” (7) was built in honour of a very important person linked to Hierapolis.

AD 60

Under Nero (Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus Caesar) (AD 54-68)

An earthquake destroys the city along with neighbouring Colossae and Laodicea.

AD 86

Under Domitian (Titus Flavius Domitianus) (AD 81-96)

Construction of the Gates and the “Street of Frontinus” that signals the reconstruction of Hierapolis by the emperors of the Flavian dynasty: Temple of Apollo, theatre, gymnasium, roads and tombs, including the noteworthy example of the Merchant Flavius Zeuxis.

Hadrian (Traianus Hadrianus Augustus) (117-138)

Probable visit of the emperor who, as a sign of goodwill, gave back to the city the aurum coronarium, a conspicuous sum money that cities offered to the emperor in celebration of their elevation to the throne. Extraordinary economic development that continues for the whole of the second and the beginning of the third century.

Construction of the monumental Agora comlex.
Erection of statues in honour of the emperor and his wife Sabina.
Antoninus Pius (Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus) (138-161)

The city, which housed a substantial Hebrew community, continues to expand its economic activity.

Christianity develops: Papias and Apollinarius are second century bishops.

Marcus Aurelius (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus) (161-180)

Plague breaks out amongst the Roman troops returning from an expedition to the East. Hierapolis turns to the oracle of Apollo at Claros, near Colophon, for advice.

Septimius Severus (Lucius Septimius Severus Pertinax) (193-211)

The city’s development continues as the settlement thrives. The most important families continue to erect funerary monuments in the cemeteries during the course of the century.
Growing prestige of the “ecumenical” games in honour of Apollo Pythios, in which many cities participated, together with the Olympic and Actian games.
The sophist antipater, member of an aristocratic family of Hierapolis, gains great influence at the Imperial court an mentor of princes and as chancellor of the Greekspeaking cities.
Construction of numerous public monuments: Amongst the most complex is the scaenae frons of the theatre, completed in AD 210-211 under the proconsul Quintus Tineius Sacerdos.

Caracalla (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus) (211-217)

Antipater manifest his disapproval of the murder of Gateby his brother Caracalla, made Emperor. Anger of Caracalla and “suicide” of Antipater. Philostratos, author of the “Lives of the Sophist”, defines Hierapolis as one of the most prosperous cities of Assia Mibor.

Elagabalus (Varius Avitus Bassianus) (218-222)

The much sought after title neokoros, “custodian of the temple” for the Imperial cult, is assigned to Hierapolis.

Alexander Severus (M. Aurelius Severus Alexander) (222-235)

Construction of the large Nymphaeum of the Tritons (12) at the northern entrance to the city.

AD 352

Restorations of the scaenae frons of the theatre attested by inscriptions.

Second half of the fourth century AD

Erection of a statue to the Praetorian Prefect of the Orient, Strategius Musonianus (after AD 360), hailed as benefactor of the city.

An earthquake seriously damages the monuments. Inscriptions attest to new restorations to the theatre. The Agoracomplex is not restored and is gradually destroyed.

Theodosius (Flavius Theodosius) (379-395)

Construction of the defensive wall circuit around the city, with two main gates, to the North and to the South, that leaves out large areas such as the Agora.

Fifth-sixth century AD

Transformation of Hierapolis into a Christian city. Prestige due to the presence of the tomb of Philip the Apostle, like St. John at Ephesus. At the beginning of the fifth century the Apocryohal Acts of Philip are written, naming Hierapolis  Ophiorhyme, ‘city, of the serpents’, in reletion to the viper cult, which the Apostle would have abolished by converting the inhabitants to Christianity.
Abandonment of buildings such as the theatre and construction of churches, including the Cathedral, the Martyrion of St. Philip, the Pier Church and the saburban church (Baths-basilica). The plutonium is stil a place to visit. In the time of Justinian some writers, such as Damascius, claim to have entered the cave through inspiration of the goddess Cybele.

AD 535

Hierapolis becomes metropolis of Phrygia Pacatiana secunda.

First half of the seventh century AD Heraclius (610-641)

A new ruinous earthquake seriously damages teh city and leaves the most important monuments in ruin.

Eighth to tenth century AD

Ruralization of the city with the construction of houses above the ruins and small chapels on the sites of the ancient churches.
Presence of bishops attested in teh Acts of the Church Councils.


The crusade of Frederick Barbarossa passes through the ruined city “where it is said that the Apostle Philip is buried”.
Eleventh to thirteenth century
Construction of the castle on the western edge of the plateau.

Thirteenth century

The Seljuk Turks control the terrion the territory.
Hierapolis is abandoned. In the plain of the Lykos river the caravanserai of Akhan is built, employing classical marbles from Laodicea.
Foundation of the Emirate of Denizli.