| Ephesus is a time capsule, the best-preserved ancient
city on earth. Most archeological sites exercise your
mind's-eye more than your vision. Not so at Ephesus,
where the chief problem is which treasure to feast your
eyes on first..
The sheer qualit and quantity of ancient buildings, theaters, temples, streets and columns on display are mind-boggling. If you bring a camera, count on
an extreme case of shutter-finger.
Ephesus boasts a rich past regardless of which era you examine, Ionian, Roman or Christian. Home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Second-largest city in antiquity. Final resting-place of the Virgin Mary.
But it's 2,000-year old Roman Ephesus that's on parade here now.
Archaeologists have uncovered artifacts at Ephesus
dating well into the third millennium B.C, long before the Ionian colonists first arrived around 1,000 B.C. The
Ionians were just the first of many subsequent rulers who enlarged, enriched and relocated the city over the ages Ephesus quickly developed into one of Ionia's richest cities, exploiting the trade routes from its location by the
mouth of the River Cayster and the Aegean Sea. After 500
years of independence, Ephesus began changing hands like a precious stone.King Croesus of Lydia conquered Ephesus in 560 B.C., augmenting his already legendary wealth until Lydia fell to the Persian Empire not 20 years later. Alexander the Great liberated Ephesus from the Persians in 334 B.C.,and was hailed by the citizens as a god.
When Alexander died in 323 B.C., his general Lysimachus seized Ephesus. The Pergamon controlled
the city for a few decades until its last ruler left his
kingdom to Rome in his will. Ephesus passed into the
hands of Rome in 133 B.C., under whose rule it reached
its greatest glory. Asian Capital Emperor Augustus made Ephesus the capital of the Roman province of Asia, and it experienced an explosion of commerce thanks to its role as middle-man betweenthe eastern and western halves of the Roman Empire. Immigrants seeking their fortune poured into Ephesus from all corners of the empire, swelling the city into a bustling, cosmopolitan entrepot whose 250,000 inhabitants made it the largest city on earth after Alexandria St. Paul preached here, as did St. John, who moved to
Ephesus with the Virgin Mary after the crucifixion of Jesus.
She lived the last years of her life in a small stone house on the outskirts of Ephesus, which eventually became a center of early Christianity. The city survived numerous earthquakes and a sacking by Goths in 262 A.D., but by the 4th century A.D., the city began to fall victim to chronic silting from the River Cayster. The Romans dredged the harbor and diverted
the course of the Cayster to no avail. Ephesus wa slowly cut off from its lifeblood the sea. The Byzantines relocated Ephesus nearby, and it experienced a resurgence under Turkish rulers in the Middle Ages. But ancient Ephesus was no more. A Wonder of the World Ephesus always attracted visitors for two reasons business and worship. A sanctuary to the ancient Anatolian Mother-Goddess, Cybele, existed before the arrival of the Ionians, who associated her with the Greek goddess Artemis and adopted her as the city's
At the apogee of its Ionian period in the 6th century B.C., Ephesus erected a huge new temple to Artemis. The Temple stood until 356 B.C., when it was burned to the
ground by a madman — on the very night Alexander the Great was born in Macedon. When Alexander arrived in Ephesus, reconstruction of
the temple was well underway.Alexander offered to finance the entire project on the condition the temple be
dedicated in his name.
The Ephesians declined, replying that it was inappropriate for one god to build a temple to another.
The Artemision was completed in the middle of the third century B.C., surpassing all other temples in size and
magnificence. It quickly gained immortality as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
During the first century A.D., the Roman writer Pliny the
Elder visited the temple, which he said measured 430
feet long and 260 feet wide, with 127 Ionic columns 70 feet tall. In his Natural History, Pliny praise the Artemision
as 'a true testimony to the magnificence of Greece.'
The Goths pillaged the temple in 262 A.D., and a
fanatical mob of Christians finished the work of the
barbarian hordes in the 5th century. Although just a
single, stunted column stands on the temple site today,
it's still worth visiting. Scan the enormous empty space
and remind yourself that the most magnificent temple
ever built once stood here.|