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 façade 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!