Turkey / Ancient /
Ancient city and sea port in western Anatolia, on the Aegean Sea, at the mouth of the Cayster River, near modern Izmir, Turkey. Today, Ephesus is 5 km from the ocean.
Roman theatre of Ephesus.
Ephesus was at its height the largest city in Roman Asia, with between 100,000 and 500,000 inhabitants.
Ephesus became an important city from its strategic location for the trade routes between Asia and Europe, connecting the Mediterranean Sea to Asia Minor (now Anatolia). The eventual decline of Ephesus came both from the adonment of the Artemis cult with the introduction of Christianity in the Byzantine Empire, and the river silting up through the 1st millennium CE.
Much of Ephesus' ruins have been excavated, much of it being from the Roman city as well as the Christian era.
Thanks to its wealth, Ephesus came to house a number of great buildings. Its temple of the goddess Artemis (Diana) was listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World in antiquity. Of the temple, the largest building of antiquity, nothing stands. It was burned by the young man, Herostratus, in 326 BCE. He committed this in order to achieve lasting fame. He was executed for his crime, the authorities prohibited the mentioning of his name. Still, he did achieve his goal, being mentioned several times in classical, as well as modern, literature. Is actual location can only be guessed, it is believed to be identified by the remains of one single column. Its location was probably close to the ancient port. Even after the destruction of the temple, the cult of Artemis continued to dominated in Ephesus.
The most impressive remains of Ephesus today is the beautiful theatre, which could seat 25,000 spectators. Between the theatre and the port was a major bath, smaller baths were spread out across the city. Ephesus had one of the most advanced aqueduct complexes, but nothing remains of that today. The Library of Celsius housed 12,000 scrolls which were bured by the Goths in 262 CE; the building was distinguished by its gate, unusually high to allow as much daylight as possible into the reading room.
Right south of Ephesus, at Meryemana, is what some of early Christianity claimed to be the tomb of Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. It remains a popular spot for pilgrimage. At Ephesus was also one of seven early churches in Asia, that was addressed in the Book of Revelation.
Ephesus today stands out as one of Turkey's finest tourist attractions.
2nd millennium BCE: It is often suggested that Ephesus was the location of the capital of the Kingdom of Arzawa, Apasa, mentioned in Hittite sources.
11th century BCE: Founded by Ionian Greeks.
7th century: Conquered by the Cimmerians.
Middle 6th century: Conquered by the Lydian king, Croesus. Croesus begins several building projects, including the Temple of Artemis in 550 (the temple would not be finished until 120 years later).
Conquered by Persian king, Cyrus the Great.
494: Locals massacre refugees of the Chiot people, fleeing from the Battle of Lade.
478: Persian king, Xerxes, uses Ephesus as a safe haven for his family in times of unrest.
454: Ephesus passes to Athens.
Around 430: The Temple of Artemis is finished.
412: Revolts against Athens, during the Second Peoponnesian War.
387: Falls to Sparta.
334: Conquered by Alexander the Great, renamed ArsinoŽ.
326: A young man, Herostratus, sets the Temple of Artemis on fire, destroying it completely.
Around 320: The location of Ephesus is moved about 2 km southwest to its present location, having city walls added.
280's: A new Ephesus is built around the Coressus and Pion, under the control of the Macedonians.
189: Comes under the king of Pergamun (see Bergama).
133: Pergamun, and Ephesus, passes over to the Romans.
88: Revolt in Ephesus and other cities in Asia Minor; Roman citizens are killed.
51-53 CE: St. Paul establishes a Christian congregation in Ephesus.
262: Destroyed by the Goths. Ephesus would be rebuilt, but according to less impressive patterns than before.
5th century: Ephesus emerges as the second most important city of the Byzantine Empire.
431: Hosts the 3rd ecumenical Christian council (see Council of Ephesus).
Middle of 5th century: Emergence of a cult related to the Seven Sleepers having been raised from the dead.
700: Razed by Umayyad Muslim troops.
716: Again, Ephesus is razed by Umayyads.
1090: The region of Ephesus is conquered by the Seljuq Turks; Ephesus is at this time in history only a small village.
1100: Reconquered by the Byzantines.
14th century: Ephesus is abandoned; sea access has through centuries become too difficult to keep Ephesus up as a strategic trading post.
1863: Excavations begin at Ephesus.