All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page added in April 2006.
(inscription in the Library built by Consul Julius Aquila to celebrate his father Julius Celsus Polemenus, proconsul of Asia)
ArtemisionArtemis (Diana) is generally known as the Maiden of the Silver Bow, her bow being a symbol of the new moon. Yet Artemis was also depicted as an orgiastic Nymph, a fertility goddess. According to the Greek myth the Amazons dedicated a temple near Ephesus, a town on the eastern shore of the Aegean Sea, to Artemis. The goddess was portrayed with multiple breasts (see the late Renaissance statue in the gardens of Villa d'Este); her sanctuary at Ephesus (Artemision) attracted crowds of worshippers and was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Archaeologists have found evidence of a temple dating back to the VIIth century B.C, but the sanctuary of Artemision which was regarded as one of the Wonders was most likely built around 550 at the expense of Croesus, the rich King of Lydia. In 356 BC a man set fire to the temple in an attempt to immortalize his name. The temple was restored and it remained a worldwide known sanctuary in the following centuries when the region became part of the Roman Empire. In AD 263 the Goths sacked the Artemision, which was once more restored; it continued to attract worshippers and this led St John Chrysostom (golden mouth - a reference to his eloquence) to request its closure in 401.
In the following centuries the stones and the decoration of the Artemision were used as building material for Byzantine and Ottoman monuments, including Hagia Sophia, the gigantic basilica of Constantinople.
EphesusIn 133 BC Attalus III of Pergamum bequeathed his kingdom which included Ephesus, to the Romans. The town flourished during Roman rule to the point that it replaced Pergamum as the residence of the proconsul in charge of the province of Asia, as the Romans called the Aegean coast of Turkey.
The first ancient monument visitors see when they approach (by foot) the archaeological site of Ephesus is the arch which was the main entrance to a stadium built during the reign of Emperor Nero. It is almost in the same condition as it was in the early XIXth century. The print also shows the vaulted structure which supported the steps where the audience sat.
Ephesus reached a population of 200,000 and the Romans ensured it had an ample supply of water. The ruins of the baths are located near the harbour in what was the commercial centre of Ephesus. The harbour of Ephesus is now dry and the coastline is a few miles away from the town. This is due to the silting caused by the action of the river Kuēuk Menderes which carries a lot of sediments from the Anatolian plateau: Menderes is the Turkish word for the Latin meander which means the winding course of a river through its own deposits.
The theatre of Ephesus could accommodate an audience of 25,000 and it was located with a very scenographic effect at the end of a monumental street which linked the harbour with the city centre. The steps were decorated with a lion paw motif which can be seen also at the Asklepion theatre of Pergamum.
A short street flanked by columns leads to the building which is both the symbol of Ephesus and of Turkey's archaeological treasures: the Library of Celsus. While the Library is a monument which marks one of the happiest periods of Ephesus' history, the Vth century street leading to it is an indication of its decline: the marble slabs after which it is called most likely come from former temples.
The Library was erected to celebrate Julius Celsus Polemenus, a Roman proconsul of Asia. The Byzantines used most of its decoration to build a fountain. At the request of the Turkish government Austrian archaeologists have dismantled the fountain and reconstructed the Library, a course of action which if followed in Rome would lead to pulling down Acqua Paola to rebuild Tempio di Minerva.
A triumphal gate gave access to the lower agorą a meeting point for merchants to conduct their dealings; a large quadrangular portico sheltered them from rain and excessive sunlight. The gate was built to celebrate Emperor Augustus and it was not part of defensive walls, as Ephesus did not need them during that period.
The Library of Celsus was built during the reign of Emperor Hadrian and a temple was erected in Ephesus to celebrate this emperor: the design of its entrance reminds the viewer of the Canopus, a temple of Villa Adriana, near Tivoli. Some columns of the temple are made of cipollino, a marble Hadrian liked very much and which was used throughout the empire in many monuments of the IInd century. The image used as background for this page shows a relief which decorates Hadrian's Temple.
Ephesus was hit in the fourth century by two earthquakes which damaged many buildings; the town, like the whole Roman Empire, was going through a period of economic decline and so the restoration effort was in some cases rather patchy: an old monument of the Ist century BC which celebrated Memmius, a grandson of Silla was decorated with statues of the Tetrarchs (IIIrd century AD), taken from another monument.
Opposite Hadrian's Temple, excavations have brought to light a row of shops preceded by a large pavement decorated with fine mosaics.
The older part of Ephesus was located in the acropolis, the upper town, where there is another agorą and another theatre, both of a smaller dimension than those in the lower town. The street which linked the two parts of the town was dedicated to the Kouretes, the young men who according to the Greek myth clashed their spears against their shields and shouted to cover with their noise the cry of infant Zeus, lest Cronus might hear it. In more general terms their weapon-clashing drove off evil spirits and young men accompanied with their chants the processions to the Artemision. The Ephesians, by dedicating to them their main street, thought to preserve their town from danger.
Move to Byzantine Ephesus.
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