The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Philadelphia (ancient)

The American Cyclopædia
Philadelphia (ancient)

Edition of 1879. See also Alaşehir and Amman on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

PHILADELPHIA (Gr. Φιλαδέλφεια, brotherly love). I. An ancient town of Lydia, on the site of the present Ala-Shehr, 27 m. E. S. E. of Sardis. It was founded by Attalus Philadelphus of Pergamus, on the lower slopes of Mt. Tmolus (now Boz Dagh), 952 ft. above the sea. The region is volcanic and was subject to frequent earthquakes. It seems to have been the depot of the great wine district around it, and in spite of its unsafe situation it continued to flourish, as attested by the book of Revelation. The outer wall of the town is still standing, with the exception of a few small portions of which only traces remain. To the southwest, on the brow of the hill, about 400 ft. above the town, were the acropolis, theatre, and stadium. Its numerous temples gave Philadelphia in ancient times the epithet of “Little Athens,” but only the ruins of a single small temple are now visible. The ground of the S. E. portion of the town is now considerably higher than formerly, and blocks of marble and numerous coins have been uncovered by digging 15 ft. below the surface. The original inhabitants seem to have been Macedonians, and they retained their national character to the time of Pliny. In the beginning of our era there appear to have been there a synagogue of Hellenizing Jews and a Christian church. (See Ala-Shehr.) II. An ancient town of Palestine, E. of the Jordan, originally Rabbath-Ammon, the chief city of the Ammonites, and now called Amman, 52 m. E. N. E. of Jerusalem. The Ammonites at first lived at peace with their neighbors, but in the time of Saul began their inroads upon the territory of the Hebrews. David's retaliatory campaigns against them resulted in the devastation of their land, and compelled them to seek refuge within the walls of their only stronghold. The siege of the town is calculated to have lasted nearly two years. The lower portion, called “the city of waters” on account of the perennial stream which rises in and still flows through it, was captured by Joab, who yielded to David the honor of storming the main citadel. Two centuries later the wall and the palaces of Rabbath-Ammon are again spoken of. In the time of Nebuchadnezzar it is mentioned as a city of great importance, with several towns in the neighborhood dependent upon it. In the 3d century B. C. Ptolemy Philadelphus bestowed upon it the name of Philadelphia, and the surrounding district was called Philadelphene, or Arabia Philadelphensis. Antiochus the Great besieged and took it in 218. Subsequently it fell into the hands of Aretas, an Arab chieftain, and from later accounts it appears to have been for a time uninhabited. Yet in the beginning of our era it was again one of the strongest cities of Peræa, and one of the cities of the Decapolis. It became very early the seat of a Christian bishop, forming one of the 19 sees of Palsestina Tertia. At the time of the Mohammedan invasion of Syria the town was in ruins. The remains of a magnificent theatre, temples, mausoleums, the citadel, and other public and private buildings still exist. In recent times the place has been visited and described by Burckhardt, Seetzen, Buckingham, Lindsay, Robinson, Hamilton, E. H. Palmer, Tyrwhitt Drake, Tristram, members of the English Palestine exploration fund, and members of the American Palestine exploration society. The last named assumed the task of triangulating the country, and making it a special field of exploration.