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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


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Once the great city of south-west Phrygia, was situated on rising ground (1150 ft.) on the left bank of the Lycus (Churuk Su ), a tributary of the Maeander, at the upper end of a narrow gorge 21m. long, where the river runs between cliffs from 50 to 60 ft. high. It stood on the great trade route from Sardis to Celaenae and Iconium, and was a large, prosperous city (Herod. vii. 30; Xenophon, Anab. i. 2, § 6), until it was ruined by the foundation of Laodicea in a more advantageous position. The town was celebrated for its wool, which was dyed a purple colour called colossinus. Colossae was the seat of an early Christian church, the result of St Paul's activity at Ephesus, though perhaps actually founded by Epaphras.

The church, to which St Paul wrote a letter, was mainly composed of mingled Greek and Phrygian elements deeply imbued with fantastic and fanatical mysticism. Colossae lasted until the 7th and 8th centuries, when it was gradually deserted under pressure of the Arab invasions. Its place was taken by Khonae (Khonas) - a strong fortress on a rugged spur of Mt. Kadmus, 3 m. to the south, which became a place of importance during the wars between the Byzantines and Turks, and was the birthplace of the historian, Nicetas Khoniates. The worship of angels alluded to by St Paul (Col. ii. 18), and condemned in the 4th century by a council at Laodicea, reappears in the later worship of St Michael, in whose honour a celebrated church, destroyed by the Seljuks in the 12th century, was built on the right bank of the Lycus.

See Sir W. M. Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, vol. i.

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Colossae'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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