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Ephesus

From Academic Kids

Ephesus was one one of the great cities of the Ionian Greeks in Asia Minor, located in Lydia where the Cayster river flows into the Aegean Sea (in modern day Turkey). It was founded by colonists principally from Athens. The ruins of Ephesus are a major tourist attraction, especially to people that travel Turkey by cruise, via the port of Kusadasi.

Contents

Ancient Ephesus

Ruins at Ephesus. Photo provided by Classroom Clipart (http://classroomclipart.com)
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Ruins at Ephesus. Photo provided by Classroom Clipart (http://classroomclipart.com)

Ephesus is believed by many to be the Apasa (or Abasa) mentioned in Hittite sources as the capital of the kingdom of Arzawa. Mycenaean pottery has been found in excavations at the site. The many-breasted "Lady of Ephesus", identified by Greeks with Artemis, was venerated in the Temple of Artemis, the largest building of the ancient world, according to Pausanias (4.31.8) and one of the Seven Wonders of the World, of which scarcely a trace remains (illustration, left).

Roman Ephesus

The Ruins at Ephesus, Efes tourists. Photo provided by Classroom Clipart (http://classroomclipart.com)
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The Ruins at Ephesus, Efes tourists. Photo provided by Classroom Clipart (http://classroomclipart.com)

Beginning in the Roman Republic, Ephesus was the capital of proconsular Asia, which covered the western part of Asia Minor. The city bore the title of "the first and greatest metropolis of Asia." It was distinguished for the Temple of Artemis (Diana), who had her chief shrine there, for its library, and for its theatre, which was the largest in the world, capable of holding 50,000 spectators. It was, like all ancient theatres, open to the sky. Here were exhibited the fights of wild beasts and of men with beasts. The population of Ephesus has been estimated to be in the range of 400,000 to 500,000 inhabitants in the year 100 CE, making it one of the largest cities of the day. Also built in Ephesus around this time were the Roman Baths, of interest is what is believed to be the first instance of indoor plumbed toilets.

Ephesus was an important center for early Christianity. Paul used it as a base. He became embroiled in a dispute with artisans, whose livelihood depended on the Temple of Artemis there (Acts 19:23-41), and wrote 1 Corinthians from Ephesus. Later Paul wrote to the Christian community at Ephesus. It was one of the seven cities addressed in Revelation (2:1-7). There is also a letter written by Ignatius of Antioch to the Ephesians in the early 2nd century CE.

The house of the Virgin Mary, about 7 km from Selēµ«, is said to have been the last home of the Virgin Mary and is a place of pilgrimage.

Ephesus was the setting for the Third Ecumenical Council in 431, which resulted in the condemnation of Nestorius.

The Roman city of Ephesus was abandoned in the 6th century CE when the harbor completely filled in with river silt (despite repeated dredges during the city's history), removing its access to the Aegean Sea.

Modern Ephesus

Ruins at Ephesus, Efes temple Hadrian.  Photo provided by Classroom Clipart. (http://classroomclipart.com)
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Ruins at Ephesus, Efes temple Hadrian. Photo provided by Classroom Clipart. (http://classroomclipart.com)

A part of the site of this once famous city is now occupied by a small Turkish town, which is also the site of the St. John's Basilica.

It is a vast site, not yet completely excavated but what is visible gives some idea of its original splendour and the names associated with it are evocative of its former life. The amphitheatre is huge and in a very outstanding position which dominates the view down Harbour Street leading to the harbour, long since silted up.

The Celsus library, whose facade has been carefully reconstructed from all original pieces, was built by a Roman in memory of his father. It is spectacular. The building faces east so that the reading rooms could make best use of the morning light.

It is unfortunate that the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is represented only by one inconspicuous column, owing to the removal of the vast majority of material by the British. Most of the artwork from the temple currently resides in the British museum.


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