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!

Ruins of Perga and Aspendos Archeological Site

We drove from Cappadocia on a well-maintained highway that takes you up and over the jagged-peaked Taurus Mountains. (**side-note–they drive on the right side.) When we crossed the summit a whole different world appeared. We went from captivating dessert to a lush Mediterranean landscape ripe with citrus trees heavy with fruit.

Antalya, on the SW coast, is the perfect place to stay to visit Perga and Aspendos. Have I told you that I could easily live here during the winter months?

Perga was an ancient Greek city founded in 1209 BC. although bronze-aged people lived here earlier. It was a big city covering 9.3 miles although it’s not all uncovered yet and extensive repairs have the theater closed this year. Alexander the Great used Perga as an important base to spread invasion inland around 334 BC.. He made Greek the language and written word of the land. The Hellenistic gates were built during the reign of Emperor Hadrianus (117-138AD). Currently, archeologists are repairing this area but the surrounding (later) Roman expansion with niches for marble statues can be explored.

Perga really sparkled with the Romans occupation (1-2AD) when the town grew past the Greek Gates with the additions of a Theater, stadium, a marble floored Agora (market), and a pretty amazing Roman bath. After St. Paul and St. Barnabas set up a mission here, there were 2 basilicas built that I believe are in ruins.

STADIUM–held 12,000 spectators to all kinds of games and races.

AGORA–the marble tiled floor is covered for protection but it’s still there! Imagine this space with vendors under a covered roof and a little temple in the middle?

Main Street—imagine cascading water that flowed down fountains in the middle of the street. The marble street has etched grooves from many chariots that traveled on it. Did you know that the ancient width of a chariot’s wheels is the width of track for a railroad? True!

The Roman Bath had 4 marble mosaic floored rooms: Changing room, cold bath, warm bath and hot bath. You can see in spots where furnaces and waterpipes were under the floor. This place had exquisite marble statues all over the place! When you return to Antalya, go to the archeology museum to see them.

Benefactor fountains–there were beautiful fountains all over, fed from the nearby aqueduct pictured below, bottom left. The fountain was so large, I couldn’t get it all in one picture and it isn’t all repaired yet. The statues installed here are also in the museum.

Nearby is Aspendos , another ancient city in ruins but the theater is the most intact in the world. For this we can thank the Turks who rebuilt it and used it as a caravan stop. This is also another check-mark for Atlas Obscura enthusiasts.

Originally, this was built during the time of Marcus Aurelius ( 160-180 AD) and held up to 8,500 seated and standing spectators. The width is 315′ across. There is a beautiful 2-story backdrop and two towers that flank the stage. Today, this theater is still being used for opera, ballet and music.

Nearby is a little street side restaurant serving Gozleme—flatbread with melted cheese and spinach.