Ephesus, the ancient city which had the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World is intriguing even today.
Ephesus, a former city of the Greek and later became an ancient Roman city port which lies in Selcuk, near Kusadasi, southwestern of present day Turkey is a heritage attraction. This ancient city have became a centre to the ancient conquerors from Greek, Persians, Turkish and Roman was one the twelve cities of Ionian League in Classical Greek era.
Temple of Artemis
Ephesus garnered a lot of “first” in history. Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World was lying in the ruin of Ephesus. The temple was dedicated to goddess Artemis or known as Diana. She was the symbol of fertility and always depicted as having multiple breasts draped from her shoulder to her waist.
The temple was built around 660 BC and described as one of the most elegant buildings of the ancient world. It encompassed more than a hundred exquisite marble columns which estimated 15 metres in height.
However, the temple was destroyed several times due to earthquakes in 614 AD and rebuilt by Emperor Constantine I after that. A new public baths were built during that time too. It was completely devastated by the Goths in 263AD when they conquered Ephesus. Nowadays, the only remaining evidence of the existence was the marble columns.
The Original Legends
According to legend, Ephesus was founded by the Amazons female warriors at the end of the Bronze Age. It was said that Ephesus was named “Apasas” by the Amazons which means city of the Mother Goddess.
Another legends rendered the city was founded by Androclus. He was one of the sons of King Athens, Codrus. He left his country after his father’s death. It was said that he founded Ephesus in the 10th century BC on the Ayasuluk Hill. That was the site where the Delphi’s oracle came true. Upon his arrival, he drove away native Carian and Lelegian which lived in the city. Ephesus was prosperity under his reign and became a part of the Ionian League.
Roman’s precious gem
Ephesus was conquered by the Romans in 189 BC. While on the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus in 27 BC, Ephesus became the most important port for the Roman in Asia Minor. Due to its strategic geographical on the mouth of Cayster River and its wonderful climate, Ephesus quickly became one of the greatest seaports in ancient world and later became the centre of Christianity.
Early Christianity found its way to Ephesus from AD 50s. It was one of the seven cities mentioned in the Revelation. The House of the Virgin Mary was built in Ephesus, which was discovered by a German nun in vision in 1812. This house is believed to be the Virgin Mary lived her last years by the Catholics and the Muslims.
The Church of Mary was the first church dedicated to Virgin Mary in 431 AD. The relics including the walls, an arch and the baptismal pool were intact inside the Church of Mary. These sites have become popular tourist attractions.
Isabey Mosque was constructed in 1375 when Turkish conquered Ephesus in 1304 by Sasa Bey. The mosque was built at the Emir of Aydin’s direction. The columns and stones of the mosque were the stones from the ruins of Temple of Artemis and Ephesus.
Besides this, Ephesus had a few synagogues constructed in the ancient world with basilica building. Excavation unearthed a Jewish lamp was found inside.
One of the grand ruins in Ephesus was its theater. Built around 2000 years ago, the open air theater had the capacity of 24000 seats. It was used for some important ceremonies for instant a play, music, drama, religious ceremony and ancient gladiators fighting against the wild beasts all took place at this grand theater. Through excavation, archaeologist managed to uncover a gladiator graveyard in May 2007.
Besides, the theater also functioned as the public meeting venue for discussing issues, ratify the rules and issues for the council.
The grand theater was built against the slope of Mount Panayir. It was formerly a place for the gladiators to fight with the beasts and celebrated by the audiences.
The theater was still in good functioning until the mid 80’s for hosting popular music concerts. It is imaginable that the city of Ephesus was one of the most elegant cities with the population of 250000.The remarkable marble columns with paved street have shared a light on this beautiful city.
Ephesus had the best aqueduct system in the ancient world. People of Ephesus can access several major baths during the Roman period. The four major aqueducts in Ephesus were functioning as to supply the water to different areas around Ephesus. One of the aqueducts have been identified to be a sawmill for marble.
Archaeologists have uncovered the two storeys Celsus Library. It was build cerca 125 AD in the memory of the former governor of Roman Asia (105-107), Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaenus. It was said that the library was the second most equipped and grand library other than Alexandria Library in Egypt in the ancient worlds. It has found the library has kept more than 15000 books within.
The façade of the library was also well adorned. There were four statues of virtues which were goodness, wisdom, thought and intellect remained.
It was build facing east where the morning light provided the light to the reading rooms.
The first brothel in the ancient world
Underneath the library, archaeologist excavated a tunnel led straight to a brothel and public toilets. The ancient had a way of thinking when it came to the food for mind and the basic biology needs for their people.
Apart from the library, Basilica of St. John was built by emperor Justinian I in 6th century AD.
There was a small roofed theatre built around 150AD by Vedius Antonius and his wife. The Odeon had 22 stairs. The upper part of the theatre was adorned with Corinthian style in red granite pillar.
The Temple of Hadrian was constructed in 118 AD and was reconstructed in the 5th century. This temple presented a Roman imperial temple style
The Temple of Domitian which was one of the largest temples was constructed with 8x13 columns. In 97AD, the fountain of Pollio was built in honour of Sextilius Pollio. He was responsible for the construction of Marnas aqueduct.
Archaeologists have also uncovered terrace of houses, a stadium, two theatres, two agoras or market places for commercial and state business respectively, temples dedicated to Greek and Roman gods, Roman bath, public toilets with an underground sewage system, fountains , gymnasiums, and Turkish Bathhouses
The fate of Ephesus
Despite its glory day, Ephesus became desolate around 5th century AD when Cayster River was silted up, and causing the port to be swampy and inaccessible. It was abandoned in the 14th century.