Two prehistoric settlement mounds mark the earliest habitation of the site, in the sixth or fifth millenium B.C. In spite of its long occupation, Aphrodisias remained a small village until the second century B.C., the date of the earliest coins and inscriptions recording the name of the city. In the late first century B.C., Aphrodisias came under the personal protection of the Roman emperor Augustus, and a long period of growth and good fortune ensued. The first several centuries A.D. were especially prosperous, and the cosmopolitan character of the age is demonstrated by the presence in this quintessentially pagan city of an active Jewish community, attested in a famous inscription listing benefactors of the local Synagogue. The continued vitality of the city in later antiquity is evident from the wholesale reconstruction of the Temple of Aphrodite as a Christian Basilica in the late fifth century. In the troubled times of the late sixth and early seventh centuries, Aphrodisias was reduced once again to the size of a village; it survived until the fourteenth century, when the site was finally abandoned.

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