From BelieveTheSign
    Click on headings to expand them, or links to go to specific articles.

    Seven Church Ages: IntroductionEphesusSmyrnaPergamosThyatiraSardisPhiladelphiaLaodiceaCABLast Messenger?

    Thyatira (Greek: "odour of affliction", or "dominating female") was the fourth city mentioned in the Book of Revelation to receive a message from Jesus Christ. Thyatira was located in Asia Minor, on the borders of Lydia and Mysia, and is now the city of Akhisar (meaning "white castle") in the Province of Manisa, Turkey. It is located 67 km/42 miles inland from the Aegean Sea and is known today for its olive, olive oil, and tobacco production.

    A woman named Lydia, converted by Paul in Philippi, was a dealer in purple cloth from Thyatira (Acts 16:11–15).


    There is archeological evidence to suggest an early Hittite occupation of Thyatira. The Persian occupation took place around 500 BC, and around 300 BC Thyatira was conquered by Alexander the Great. Thyatira was later captured by the Seleucids until the Roman Era, which started at around 80 BC. Although an important city in its own right, at times Thyatira protected Sardis (59 km/37 miles to the south) from Pergamum (75 km/47 miles to the northwest), and at other times it was controlled by the rulers of Pergamum to protect the southeastern approach to their city.

    It is known that the Roman Emperor Caesar visited Thyateira in 48 BC. Following a major earthquake in 20 BC, a delegation from Thyateira travelled to Roman Senate in search of aid for towns in ruins. Another Roman Emperor, Caracalla, also visited Thyateira in 214 AD, and announced the town as a regional and administrative center with the power of adjudication. The Catholic Saint Epiphanius relays that at the beginning of the third century, almost all Thyatira was Christian (Contra haer., LI, 33). In 366, a battle fought near Thyateira saw the army of Roman emperor Valens defeat the Roman usurper Procopius.

    Thyateira went under Arabic rule for some period in 700 AD, and witnessed many battles between Turks and Crusaders in the following years.


    Thyatira was one of the first cities to use money. Since there is limited excavation of historic sites in the city, much of the knowledge of Thyatira comes from the images depicted on these coins. From these images, it is evident that guilds of bakers, bronze smiths, wool workers, potters, linen weavers and tanners were active in the city. These coins also depict the following images:

    • Baskets of fruit
    • Serpents
    • A double-sided battle axe
    • Apollo and Artemis together
    • Cybele, possibly expressing the matriarchal nature of the Lydian society.
    • Images of Roman emperors and local governors,
    • Sports,
    • Festivals, and
    • Some coins indicate an economical alliance between Thyatira, Smyrna (İzmir) and Pergamos (Bergama).

    The Greek gods on these coins indicate the activities that were sacred or common in Thyatira. A summary of these gods and their worship is included below:

    Cybele's was the mother of Apollo and Artemis, and her most ecstatic followers were males who ritually castrated themselves, after which they were given women's clothing and assumed "female" identities (referred to by the third century commentator Callimachus in the feminine Gallai). Her priestesses led the people in immoral ceremonies with wild music, drumming, dancing and drink.

    Artemis was Apollo's twin sister. Artemis was the moon godess, the patron of hunters, and godess of fertility. In Rome Artemis was known as Diana. Artemis was also known as the perpetual virgin, and was older than Apollo by a day.

    Apollo was depicted as a beardless youth, and his name means "to redeem, to purify, ever shooting, assembly, and fold" and he was known as the sun god, the god of flocks, politics, medicine, music, poetry, archery, and plague. Priestesses acted as oracles of Apollo, and sat on a sacrificial tripod while prophecying (after inhaling some substance). A laurel branch would rest on the tripod during their absence. Apollo was often associated with order and moderation, but had numerous relationships with immortal and mortal women (and men).

    Guilds in Greece and Rome were actually religious confraternities that linked a trade with pagan worship. In Ephesus, Paul was confronted by silver smiths crying 'Great is Diana of the Ephesians'. Similarly, acceptance into the business community was often contingent on joining a guild, and therefore joining in worship of a pagan deity.


    Links to other articles in the series

    This article is one in a series of studies on the Seven Church Ages - you are currently on the topic that is in bold: