Click Photo for Larger Version
Photograph looking west at the full length of the 820 ft. stadium on the north side of Aphrodisias. The stadium is the largest and best-preserved in Turkey. It has 30 rows of terraced seats for 30,000 spectators. It is rounded at both ends.
It was built in the first century AD to house traditional Greek athletic contests: foot races, long-jumping, wrestling, discus, and javelin throwing. Around AD 400 the east end of the stadium was turned into an area specifically designed for Roman animal and gladiatorial fights.
Inscriptions on the seating indicate places for individuals and groups of spectators to sit Among the associations, tanners and goldsmiths are mentioned. Men, women, and visitors from other cities attended the contests.
Compare for example the stadium at Perga.
In the Greco-Roman world stadiums were used for athletic contests including running races (compare Acts 20:24; Gal 2:2; Phil 2:16; 2 Tim 4:7; etc.) wrestling, boxing (1 Cor 9:26–27), discus and javelin throwing and other spectacles.
Note how the writer of the book of Hebrews (12:1) writes "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."