Ephesus– Amazon Queen or goddesses ?

So many rumors surround the naming of Ephesus. Was the ancient city named after Ephos, queen of the female Amazon warriors of what is now the Ukraine? There may be a connection, because the old testament name for this town was Smyrna–which has origins in that myth. What we do know is that Greek colonists took over in the 10th century, BC. and their goddess, Artemis became the mother goddess. Two statues depicting her are now in the Ephesus museum.

Although Artemis protected fertility and plenty, those aren’t many breasts (archeologists declare) but are either gourds or bulls testicles ( So many fertility symbols !). Her robe is decorated with animals and bees are on her feet. These statues had been buried before a seige, which protected them for centuries.

The acropolis, built on top of the hill in 550 BC, was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Some of the marble panels are in Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. All that remains is toppled stones. I wish I had more time there to hike up and look at Ephesus from that vantage point.

The Roman’s took over Ephesus in 129 BC until 395 AD. This is the classical period when streets were paved with marble and intricate mosaics. the 3rd picture once led to the now dry harbor where ships rocked.

Expansion led to many important buildings :

The Roman senate held government discussions and voting at the State Agora. There is an older Greek agora about 6′ below this one. The bottom picture is the exit from the senate, which the Roman’s called the vomitarium. Don’t you love their use of words? Especially applies to government debates.

The library of Celsus, which was dedicated to Emperor Tiberius, was the third largest library of the ancient world. Alexandria in Egypt had the largest library followed by Pergamum, which is also in Turkey. The three female statues in niches on the fa├žade were Virtue, Wisdom and Knowledge. There is a tunnel inside to the brothels across the street (pictured last) Women weren’t allowed in the library. Can you imagine the conversation? “Hey Honey–I’m going to go read one of the 12,000 scrolls tonight.” Yeah. Right.

There is a triple entrance ( Gate of Mazaeus and Mithripates) to the right of the library that leads into the 364′ (square) commercial Agora.

The market once stood two stories high with double columned porticos. One of the more famous workers was St. Paul—He worked in a tentmaking and leather shop here until he got arrested and then got railroaded out of town.

There are 6 aqueducts that supplied water to the city. A steady stream ran under the public toilets washing away the offal and other pipes fed the Scholastic baths pictured (rt) below.

The theater had 25,000 seats. Parts of it were closed off when I was there in March, 2022 for restoration and expansion. ( shucks! no climbing to the top) the last image is from a book showing what the stage screen looked like.

This takes me to St. Paul and St. John. Ephesus is one of seven cities mentioned in the book of Revelation and the Gospel of St. John was written here. There are early Christian symbols, called, Ichthys etched in stone around the city. The circle holds the Greek symbols :I (Jesus) X (Christ) O (God) Y (Son) and E (savior). Within the circle is also the earliest sign of the cross.

This was a secret way of identifying Christian dwellings. Eventually a Roman general figured it out, which led to arrests and massacre. St. John’s gravesite is in Ephesus, but it’s not clear if he was martyred or not. The other rumor is that Mary, the mother of Jesus, also lived near Ephesus because Jesus asked John to take care of her.

The Temple of Domitian was built in 1 AD and dedicated to the brutal emperor Domitian. Ephesus was looking for Roman favor. He wasn’t popular with anyone and eventually was killed by a worker (slave?)

Hadrian Temple- (130-132)-was dedicated to the Roman emperor and his statue probably stood inside but it’s been lost. The bust of Tyche ( goddess of chance and fortune) is surrounded by acanthus leaves ( immortality and resurrection). Medusa’s head is quite lovely with all those snakes. Her symbol wards off evil in a convoluted thought. She became evil– after she was wronged– but became a badass who meted out justice by destroying evilness and turning men into stone.

Hercules Gate–divided uptown from downtown. Currently, there are only 2 pillars but the 2-storey gate would have had 12. The arch is gone and the winged Nike found elsewhere in Ephesus is thought to have been part of that arch. 2nd picture is walking between the columns of the gate.

Trajan’s Fountain was built in the second century to honor the emperor Trajan. It had two ornamental pools, one in front the other in back. Water flowed from a central pillar where a huge statue of Trajan rested his feet on the world. There were many statues which are in the archeological museum in Ephesus. This fountain is still being restored and is smaller than the original.

other symbols, signs, and fountains in Ephesus

What made Ephesus important was her busy harbor that slowly filled with silt from the Kucukmenderes River. Dredging was attempted, even back then, but eventually malaria and diseases followed. Today, the filled-in harbor is 2.5 miles inland. Much of the site is still unexcavated, so imagine what future generations might find!

Sailing on a Gulet

A traditional Turkish Gulet is a wood boat with two or three masts that sails the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea. We boarded our ship in the cute port town of Marmaris for a 4 day adventure.

The Sadri Usta was our beautiful teak boat with an amazing outside eating area. After meeting our wonderful crew, we went to one of 7 cabins to unpack. Queen-sized beds, shiny teak woodwork, and plenty of light from our large back windows that opened. This ship has private en-suite bathrooms with showers. There isn’t air-conditioning but I didn’t even notice as the ship sped across the waves. Wine glass in hand while reclining on the aft deck after an excellent meal and viewing stunning sunsets–Life doesn’t get any better than this. After our tours there were options for swimming and kayaking.

Day 1: After anchoring in Ekincik Cove, we transferred onto a smaller boat to ride up the Dalyan River to visit the 2 century (AD) seaport city of Kaunos. It used to be a seaport until silt filled the harbor and the site was deserted.

Kaunos is very close to another ancient rich city( Lycia), so we puttered along to view the 4th century cliff tombs. An interesting side-note is that Lycia is mentioned in Homer’s Iliad.

Don’t miss the little town of Dalyan for super shopping deals, especially for shoes and leather purses.

The next day we dropped anchor near a spot called Cleopatra’s Baths. It’s rumored to have been built by Mark Anthony for his love but there’s nothing to support the claim. Ol’ Mark should have gotten a historical pat-on-the-back notation if he actually did this for lovely Cleo. After landing, we went on a nice hike and were able to see a Lydian cistern and ruins before dropping down the hill to the turquoise sea once again.

Later in the afternoon we landed on Gemiler Island which was a resupply destination for pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. Not all of them made it. There are tombs all over. The most famous resident was Saint Nicholas. Santa was in Turkey all this time–not Scandinavia. He was buried here in 326, but his relics were removed in 650 for safer keeping to the nearby town of Myra. The ruins of Christian churches built between the 4th and 6th century are fun to explore, and if you hike to the top of the hill, you’ll find a small lighthouse. The views are top of the world from up there.

Day 3 we landed near Gemiler Beach to go to the Kayakoy Greek ghost town which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town originated in the 14th century but in 1920, after the Greco-Turkish war, the people were forced on a death march. Any survivors were shipped to Greece where they became refugees. The population exchange was based solely on religion. Turkey wanted a Muslim country untainted by Christians. This is what happens when countries are led by theocracy. Furthermore, Turkey insisted that the lesser population of Muslims living in Turkey MUST return and occupy the deserted Greek Heritage homes. However, the Muslims feared the ghosts of the tortured people. The returning Turks were farmers and this saved these ruins because Kayakoy was settled high up on unfavorable land. The original residents were exceptional craftsmen and didn’t need fertile ground. Another interesting fact is the remaining non-conforming religions in Turkey were eliminated in one swoop by one edict: If you became Muslim—you didn’t have to pay taxes. Currently, a few artists live here.

We disembarked in the lovely town of Fethiye. I so could live there during the winter. I see myself in a small place with a built-in pool and maid service with delivery of fresh fish to my door.

A few more. I can’t resist!

Keep a lookout for my next and last post for Turkey : EPHESUS