The ancient city of Thyatira, known for being one of the cities named in the book of Revelation, continues today as the modern city of Akhisar. A wealthy commercial city in antiquity, the city today is a modern one with a population of more than 80,000. Agriculture is a large part of the economy of the area, with major crops of olives, olive oil, wheat, cotton, grapes, melons, and raisins. The region is especially famous for its tobacco production. Akhisar is located in western Turkey, approximately 30 miles from the Aegean coast and 50 miles northeast of Izmir on highway 565. Situated on the broad Akhisar Plain, the city was in the northern part of the ancient kingdom of Lydia. Because of its location in the center of the large level plain, the city had few natural defenses. Archaeological evidence demonstrates that a settlement existed here as early as 3000 B.C.E. During the 5th century B.C.E., the Persians gained control of the area, followed by Alexander the Great toward the end of the 4th century. At the beginning of the 3rd century, the Seleucid ruler Seleucus I Nicator refounded the city and apparently settled Macedonian soldiers in the city. Serving as a military outpost, Thyatira became a part of the Pergamene kingdom under the Attalid rulers by 189 B.C.E. (if not earlier). After Attalus III bequeathed his Pergamene kingdom to the Romans in 133 B.C.E., the Romans established the province of Asia in 129 B.C.E., and Thyatira came under Roman rule. Located at the crossroads of the major routes leading northwest to Pergamum, southeast to Sardis, and southwest to Magnesia and Smyrna, Thyatira became an important trade, industrial, and commercial center. Inscriptional evidence indicates that the city was host to numerous trade guilds, which functioned as social, civic, and religious clubs or organizations. Among the guilds represented at Thyatira were the guilds of coppersmiths, tanners, leatherworkers, dyers, wool workers, and linen workers. The wool and textile industries were particularly strong in Thyatira, as was also the production of purple dye. During the Roman era the city prospered. Inscriptions discovered in the city mention the existence of three gymnasiums, a colonnaded portico of one hundred columns, stoas, shops, and shrines to the sun god Apollo Tyrimnaeus and to Artemis Boreitene.
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