| In the Field

Monuments of Aphrodisias

The City Wall

The City Wall of Aphrodisias is extensive, well preserved, and securely dated. Based on inscriptions on two of the gates naming governors and on statue bases found reused in the fabric of the Wall, the construction is closely dated to the 350s and 360s AD. The city, founded in the second or first century BC, appears to have been unfortified before then.  The construction of the Wall marks a significant change in the visualization of the city for its residents. The physical presence of this massive structure significantly affected circulation patterns as well as determined later development both within city and in the countryside. 

While the interior face of the Wall is built newly quarried and regularly coursed stone, the exterior face consists almost entirely of large marble spolia, including numerous statue bases and fragments of small freestanding monuments, as well as large parts of both finished and unfinished buildings. The course of the Wall can be traced for almost its entire circuit around the city.  The western and southern sides roughly follow the orientation of the street grid, while the northern section extends outward to incorporate the stadium. The masonry of the Wall is consistent throughout, and it appears to have been built as a single project. Five gates are known, two each in the northern and western stretches of the wall, and one in the southern part of the eastern wall.  They all relate to known city streets and extramural roads.

The construction of the City Wall was the earliest and largest building project undertaken in late antique Aphrodisias.  Other late fourth- and early fifth-century projects include the refurbishment of the Civil Basilica and colonnades of the Agora, the rebuilding of the portico to the east of the Theater, and the re-erection of the monumental gateway to the Temple Wall construction may have been a symbol of civic pride or been the first stage of a campaign of urban revitalization and need not have been motivated by political or military crisis.