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Ephesus

Ephesus

EPHESUS

According to ancient historians the myth of the foundation of Ephesus goes back to the period before the Ionian colonization. As it was customary in ancient times to consult the oracle before any important event, Androclus, the son of Codrus, the legendary King of Athens did this about where to settle or found a settlement. The answer was simple: “at the place which will be indicated by a fish and a wild boar”. After colonists landed in Anatolia, they were camping somewhere near Ephesus and were grilling fish. A burning fish set a bush on fire causing a boar to leap out of the bush and run away. Remembering the words of the oracle the colonists decided to found their settlement there.

Some sources say that the city was founded by the Amazons. In mythology, the Amazons were a race of woman warriors who lived in Anatolia and fought with the Trojans against the Achaeans in the Trojan War. At that time, their queen was killed by the Achaean hero Achilles. According to legend the Amazons dealt with men for only two reasons, procreation and battle, and they reared only their female young. The Amazons were frequently depicted by artists as being in battle with men.

The city was an Ionian colony formed sometime after 1000 BC. Some authorities have suggested that the history of the city goes back to the Hittite period, c. 1400 BC, and it was the city which the Hittites called Apasas. The earliest archeological evidence is the Mycenaean ceramics found on the Ayasuluk Tepesi (Hill). This does not imply that there had been a Mycenaean settlement in the region of Ephesus. Mycenaean ceramics were popular and found in many other places.

Ephesus has been located at different places in different times. Ephesus I was located on Ayasuluk Hill and inhabited by ancient Anatolians, Carians and Lelegians. At that time there was a cult of the Great Earth Mother which acted like a magnet attracting pilgrims and settlers even before the Ionian migration. Ephesus II was on the north slope of Panayir Dagi (Mount Pion). As with other cities of the Aegean coast of Anatolia, Ephesus came to be ruled by Croesus of Lydia in the mid-6C BC, before passing to the Persians after 546 BC. It joined the Delian League after the Persian Wars. In 334 BC it fell to Alexander the Great and subsequently to his successors: Lysimachus and Seleucid rulers. In the 4C BC the harbor threatened to silt up the settlement and it was moved to a new location between Panayir Dagi and Bulbul Dag (Mount Coressus) by Lysimachus to form Ephesus III. The remains of city walls from this period can still be seen at the foothill of Bulbul Dag (The Nightingale Mountain). Later it was controlled by Pergamum, eventually passing into Roman hands in 133 BC. During this period Ephesus became the capital of province of Asia Minor and the population reached a quarter of a million. After the 6C AD, due to the persistent silting up of the harbor and repeated raids by Arabs, the city changed its location back to Ayasuluk Hill forming Ephesus IV.

DOMITIAN TEMPLE

During the Roman period, Ephesians erected many buildings and temples, and dedicated them to emperors in order to secure good relations and the support of Rome. The Domitian Temple is one of them and is a 1C AD building. In the substructure of the building, parts of a huge statue which is four times larger than life were excavated and interpreted to be Emperor Domitian’s. This is the reason that the building was named as the Domitian Temple. But according to more recent research the statue is of the Emperor Titus. Before this recent research it was believed to be the first temple erected in the name of a Roman emperor who referred to himself as “ruler and god”. At the end of the 1C AD, when he was assassinated, his statue was smashed to pieces on the ground by a mob as he was not well-liked. The name of the temple might change anytime but still, it is believed to be the first temple of the cult of emperors in Ephesus.

ODEON

The Odeon in Ephesus was built in the 2C AD and had a double function. First it was a theater for theatrical performances as well as being the Bouleterion. It was the Senate House which was used by the boule, the advisory council of the city. It has always been very difficult to identify bouleterion buildings as they did not have typical characteristics. It was a two-storied building covered with a wooden roof with a seating capacity of 1,400 people. It consisted of three main sections; cavea, skene and proskene.

THE CELSUS LIBRARY

The Celsus Library was built in the beginning of the 2C AD by Gaius Julius Aquila to be a memorial to his father Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the proconsul of the Province of Asia. In the Roman period all but the bodies of heroes were buried outside the borders of cities. Aquila was granted permission for his father to be buried in a marble grave in a burial chamber in the library. Celsus’s sarcophagus lay inside the building, under the middle apse.The facade has two stories with three entrances in the lower story and three window openings in the upper story. The columns at the sides of the facade are shorter than those at the center, giving the illusion of the building being greater in size. The three entrances are flanked by four niches with statues representing the virtues of Celsus, Sophia (Wisdom), Areté (Valor), Ennoia (Thought) and Epistémé (Knowledge). The semicircular niche on the main floor facing the central portal probably contained a statue of Athena. Although no traces have been found, it is thought that there was an auditorium for lectures or presentations between the library and the Marble Road.Towards the end of the period when the city was inhabited, the interior room was destroyed and the facade of the building was used as a part of a nymphaeum. Some 2 m / 6.5 ft high marble slabs which were found there formed the front part of the nymphaeum. These slabs originally belonged to the Parthian Monument which was built to commemorate the victory of Lucius Verus over the Parthians. They were taken to Vienna and are exhibited in the Ephesus Museum today.Between 1973 and 1977, an earthquake-proof reconstruction of the facade of the library was completed. Historical building sequence was well studied with the reconstruction.

STATE AGORA

The State Agora was a vast public square laid out and remodeled during the reign of Augustus (27 BC-14 AD). It was a public area where people gathered for political, commercial and social reasons. The north stoa also had the function of a basilica, Ionic in style and divided into two aisles and a nave by two rows of columns. This three-aisled basilica replaced the single-aisled Hellenistic Hall. Meetings of the law courts were probably held there in the basilica. The construction of the basilica in the proximity of the prytaneion would not have been a coincidence.

TERRACE HOUSES

The Terrace Houses on the Curetes street belonged to the rich people of Ephesus. They date back to the 1C AD and some of them were used up to the 7C AD. Many of them were three-storied and had peristyles surrounded by rooms without windows but included frescoes and mosaics of mythological scenes. Some of the frescoes were scenes from the comedies of Menander and the tragedies of Euripides. The fresco depicting the fight between Hercules and Acheloos and the glass mosaic of Dionysus and Ariadne with birds in a vineyard are among the best preserved wall decorations. They were luxuriously furnished private houses with fountains and central heating. Between the street and houses was a portico with a mosaic floor, behind which were shops.

A protective roof has been built to prevent valuable frescoes and mosaics decaying. Maximum care has been paid for keeping the original appearances of the rooms during the reconstruction of the atriums.

 

THE GRAND THEATER

The Theater is one of the most impressive buildings in Ephesus. It was originally a 3C BC Hellenistic theater which was later restored, adapted and expanded in the 1C AD by the Romans until it reached its present seating capacity of 24,000 people. It was used for the meetings of the demos as well. The cavea has a horseshoe shape of 220 degrees and a diameter of 151 m / 495 ft. The uppermost row of the cavea is 30 m / 100 ft above the orchestra. Staircases outside were originally vaulted and provided access to the upper rows. The skene, the ruins of which are seen today, was a three-storied ornate building of the Roman period. Nothing was left from the Hellenistic period in the stage building. The facade was subdivided with many highly ornate niches. The ground floor of the skene consisted of a long corridor with 8 rooms and five large doors leading to the stage. Niches replace these doors in the second and third stories. The third story was rebuilt in the 2C AD to form an attic with pillars and an entablature. This theater was the place where St. Paul preached. However, a goldsmith by the name of Demetrius provoked his fellow-craftsmen to a public outcry against Paul, with the cry “Great is Artemis of Ephesians”. He did it because he thought this new religion could ruin their businesses. They made their living by selling statues of Artemis to pilgrims visiting there from far and wide.

THE HADRIAN TEMPLE

The Hadrian Temple was built in the 2C AD and renovated in the 4C ad in the name of the Emperor Hadrian. It was originally in Corinthian style consisting of a cella and a porch (pronaos). The facade of the porch had a pediment supported by two piers and two columns including an arch in the middle. The columns and the arch remain but the pediment has not survived. The keystone of the arch has a relief of Tyche, the goddess of fortune. In the lunette over the entrance to the cella, there is another relief of a semi-nude girl, probably of Medusa, in acanthus leaves. Friezes were added there from different places in Ephesus during a restoration in the 4C AD. They are scenes relating to the legendary foundation of the city. From left to right: Androclus, the mythological founder of the city, killing a wild boar; Hercules rescuing Theseus, a mythological hero and the first true King of Athens, who was chained to a bench as a punishment by Hades for trying to kidnap Persephone from the underworld; Amazons, Dionysus and his entourage; Emperor Theodosius I, an enemy of paganism, and an assembly of gods including Athena and Artemis.

THE HERCULES GATE

The Hercules Gate can easily be identified by two reliefs of Hercules wearing lion’s skin. The pillars date from the 2C AD but were taken there to be used in the construction of a narrow gate house only in the 6C AD having originally stood elsewhere. The gate was made narrow to prevent wheeled vehicles which came from the Magnesian Gate going into the city.

 

THE NYMPHAEUM OF TRAJAN

The Nymphaeum of Trajan is a 2C AD building with two stories built by an Ephesian in memory of the Emperor Trajan. In front of the building there was a pool with water cascading from beneath the colossal statue of Trajan. One foot of his statue can still be seen. The pool was flanked by the building on three sides. The facade of the building is highly ornate with Corinthian columns on the upper story and Composite columns on the lower. Statues of other emperors, gods and heroes stood in niches.

 

THE HOUSE OF VIRGIN MARY

It is known with certainty that the Virgin Mary went to Ephesus and lived there for some time. Whether or not she died in Ephesus was not known until Anne Catherine Emmerich’s vision. The stigmatized German nun who had never been to Ephesus had a vision of the House of the Virgin Mary and described it in detail to the German writer Clemens Brentano who later published a book about it. Catherine Emmerich died in 1884. In 1891 Paul, Superior of the Lazarists from Izmir read about her vision and found a little building which corresponded with Emmerich’s descriptions. Archeological evidence showed that the little house was from the 6C AD but that the foundations were from the 1C AD.

This place was officially declared a shrine of the Roman Catholic Church in 1896, and since then it has become a popular place of pilgrimage. Pope Paul VI visited the shrine in 1967.

THE ARTEMIS TEMPLE

The Artemis Temple or Artemision was one of the Seven Wonders of the World and located in Ephesus. Throughout the excavations in Ephesus, the actual location of the temple was presumed in different places.

Its ancient cult dedicated to Artemis was famous in antiquity and made ancient Ephesus a much-visited pilgrimage place. Each year one month was considered a holiday and set aside for the religious ceremonious observations. The first temple was built in the 6C BC and was Ionic dipteros with two rows of columns on both sides and three rows in the front and rear. There were totally 127 Ionic columns with a height of 19 m / 62 ft each. 36 of columns were bearing sculptures in relief. In 356 BC a madman known as Herostratus set fire to the temple in order to make his name immortal. On the same night in Macedonia Alexander the Great was born. Later when he came to Anatolia he offered to make an endowment for the temple on the condition that his name should be associated with it. However his offer was refused with a polite and tactful answer; “it was unseemly for one god to build a temple for another”.

The second temple was built in the 4C BC on the same ground plan but this time being on a base with 13 steps. The fact that the temple faced West while Greek temples faced East as a rule is some proof of it being of Anatolian origin. This is the same in the temples of Sardis and Magnesia on Meander. The columns were shorter and more slender. The famous sculptor Scopas made the column reliefs while the relief on the altar was of Praxiteles. In the beginning of the 5C AD the temple was destroyed by a fanatical mob which was regarded as the final triumph of Christianity over paganism. Out of the magnificent temple only one of the 127 Ionic columns and foundation stones can be seen today. This was erected in 1972-3 out of different pieces of different columns without reaching its original height.

THE EPHESUS MUSEUM

The Ephesus Museum is in the town of Selcuk at the eastern foothill of Ayasuluk Hill. The two best finds exhibited in the museum are the marble statues of Artemis. One is from the 1C AD and the other 2C AD. Rows of egg-shaped marble pieces on the goddess’s chest have been interpreted differently as breasts, eggs, grapes or dates. In 1978 a new interpretation suggested that these pieces on the goddess’s chest were bulls’ testicles offered to her on feast days as symbols of fertility. Later excavations proved that the bull cult was really important. Similarly to Mother Goddess of Anatolia, she has two feline animals standing next to her.

 BASILICA OF ST. JOHN

At his crucifixion Jesus asked his beloved disciple, John, to look after his mother. John and the Virgin went to Ephesus between 42 and 48 AD and lived there. John was martyred under the rule of the Emperor Trajan. There has been much discussion as to whether John the Apostle is confused with St. John the Theologian whose name, Hagia Theologos, gave the Turkish name first for the town and later only for the hill, Ayasuluk. A small church on the Ayasuluk Hill was dedicated to him in the 2C AD. This church was replaced in the 6C by a huge basilica built by the Emperor Justinian, the impressive ruins of which are still visible.

The basilica had a cruciform plan with four domes along its longitudinal axis and a pair flanking the central dome to form the arm of the cross. Under the central dome was the sacred grave of St. John. Pilgrims have believed that a fine dust from his grave has magical and curative powers. In the apse of the central nave, beyond the transept is the synthronon, semicircular rows of seats for the clergy. To the north transept was attached the treasury which was later converted into a chapel. The baptistery is from an earlier period and now located to the north of the nave.

The citadel at the top of the Ayasuluk Hill is a 6C AD Byzantine construction which was later extended by the Seljuks. Lower down the slopes of Ayasuluk Hill is the Isa Bey Camisi, a 14C AD mosque of the Aydinoglu Principality period. It was built by Isa Bey, a grandson of the founder of the Principality. This is the earliest known example in Anatolia of a mosque that has an arcaded courtyard and pool. It is also the earliest representative of an Anatolian mosque with columns and a transept. It is the last example of the consecutive different religions; pagan temple, Christian church and Moslem mosque.

GROTTO OF 7 SLEEPERS

The Seven Sleepers, commonly called the “Seven Sleepers o Ephesus”, refers to 7 early christians who lived in Ephesus in the 3rd century A.D, in the time of the Roman Emperor Decius. This was the time of persecution to the Christains. These 7 young men hid inside a cave outside the city of Ephesus around 250 AD, to escape from the persecution of Christians. Having fallen asleep inside the cave, they slept approximately 150-200 years and woke up during the reign of Theodosius II, They so hungry, they sent one of them to get a bread. The shop keeper was so suspicious when the guy tried to give him a 200 years old coin. He called guards and these 7 young man got arrested. Later on they are treated as holy people. Theodosius the Roman Empreror wanted to visit these 7 early Christians but by the time he arrived they all died since they were physically very old. They got burried into the cave they were asleep. Later on people wanted get burried close to these holy people.

The story is also mentioned in the book of Quran.  While not giving the number of youths involved, the Quranic version of the Seven Sleepers story largely parallels the Christian account. Unlike the Christian story, the Islamic version includes a dog who allegedly accompanied the youths into the cave, and kept watch at the entrance for the entire time that they were asleep In Islam, these youths are referred to as “The People of the Cave”.

ISA BEY MOSQUE

Archeologists mention that there is a possibility of an Apollon  temple in the place where the mosque was built. It was common in the ancient  times to built an Apollon temple next to Artemis temple since they are considered as twins. Apollo was the twin brother of Artemis, the god of prophecy. The mosque was built in 1375 (According to Christian Calendar,  According to moslem calendar 776) by the Architect Ali from Damascus, ordered by  Isa Bey, The Emir Aydin. Has 2 parts as courtyard and the prayer room. Mosque  was built with materials taken from former greco-roman buildings. Has 3 entrances. The west facade is made from the blocks of Marble from the cella of Artemision. In the center of the courtyard, there is a basin of octogonal shape for religious purifictions. It had 2 minarets. One was destroyed by an earthquake. Today it is the oldest active mosque in Turkey. It has been active since 14th century. In 1950s it was restored. Today only one out of two is standing.

SIRINCE VILLAGE

Located 6 miles away from Selcuk town, popular village. First inhabitance  dates back first century. The early christians from Ephesus escaping from the  prosecutors founded the village. This was a Greek Orthodox village till 1924.  Was named as “Cirkince” meaning the ugly for while. Indeed its inhabitants gave  this name on the purpose as they did not want to be bothered by foreigners nor  to share the beauty of their village. Still after years, visitors understood  that the village was not ugly and called it “Sirince” meaning the pretty. Today  the village is a perfect synthesis of Turkish-Greek culture as of the 1920’s;  after the Turkish Independence War, people exchange between Greek and Turks has  occurred and all those typical Greek houses, though they kept their original  outside characteristics, have received the local layout inside. At Sirince  Village you will have chance of seeing the local life at a village and  purchasing some small local souvenirs and handicrafts. The village is also  famous for its local grape and other fruit wines.

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