| In the Field

Monuments of Aphrodisias

The Civil Basilica

The Basilica was constructed in the late first century CE, and is one of the best preserved basilicas in the Roman empire. It was a multi-purpose civic building, used for banking, law courts, markets and other activities. It is extremely large, taking up three full city blocks, running north-south from the southwest corner of the South Agora.

There is a small vestibule at the north end, with an entryway constructed of engaged columns and a large door leading to the South Agora. The interior of the long hall is divided into two side aisles and a central paved nave by two-storied colonnades of Ionic and Corinthian orders. This hall is terminated by a wide south hall, and another vestibule at the south end.

The Basilica's remains consist of standing walls and over 1000 fallen marble architectural blocks incrusted with decorative carving. In addition, fragments were found inscribed with the Price Edict of Diocletian, a fascinating find since the language of the Price Edict, Latin, was understood by only a small percentage of this Greek-speaking city's population.

The Basilica of Aphrodisias and other similar colonnaded halls in Asia Minor have architectural designs that combine both Greek and Roman ideas, which seems to have been a conscious choice on the part of their Greek builders and patrons, not a mandate from Rome. In creating a hybrid building type, the builders and patrons of these structures respected Greek architectural and cultural traditions, while at the same time introducing prestigious ideas from Rome.