Temple of Artemis
The Temple of Artemis was located southwest of Ayasuluk hill where Selcuk Castle is located on. It was considered to be one of the Seven Wonder of the World by ancient writers. Today on Ephesus tours you can only see the ruins of the foundations of this marvelous construction of the Hellenistic Age, entirely made of marble and full of sculptured columns’ capitals and shafts.
The first Temple Artemis is said to have been erected around 800 BC. The first temple had a sacred stone that was believed that it was fallen from “Jupiter”. The goddess Artemis of Ephesus called Diana in Rome, was not the same as the one worshipped in Greece. The Artemis of Ephesus was the goddess of fertility. The Greek Artemis was the goddess of hunting. After local people who were believing Cybele and Ionians began to live together, they synthesized Greek Artemis and Cybele and they all adored Artemis of Ephesus. She was often depicted as a female figure draped with eggs, multiple breasts, which were the symbols of fertility, from her waist to the shoulders, a thrown o her head, bulls, deers, and queen bees downwards. The temple was used for pilgrimage, trade, and tourism.
The Temple of Artemis was destroyed and reconstructed several times throughout the history of Ephesus. After construction in 800 BC, another temple, more magnificent than the first one, was constructed with high stone columns in the same strip In 600 BC. When Lydians conquered the city of Ephesus in 550 BC. they destroyed the temple during the fight. The archeologists scouted the area and concluded that the temple might have been hit by a flood at the same time.
The Temple of Artemis was the first sanctuary that was erected of marble. 127 columns in total were carved and circular, 20 m (60 feet) in length with Ionic capitals. It was ornamented by the bronze statues of Amazons, adorned with golden pillars, paintings, and silver statuettes. The structure was rectangular in shape and had marble steps surrounding the temple. This temple was the pride of Ephesus city. It became an important port city visited by tourists from vast distances, kings, and artisans due to the fame of this temple. When the Goths invaded the city, the Temple of Artemis was burnt down in the 260s, it was not rebuilt again. The Roman Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity and people lost their interest in this religion of Artemis. Today it is still accepted as the third oldest wonder of the ancient world. Through many books, including the Bible, it can be read though it has been much longer. Philon of Byzantium mentioned that about the Temple of Artemis with these words: ”I have seen the walls and Hanging Gardens of ancient Babylon, the statue of Olympian Zeus, the Colossus of Rhodes, the mighty work of the high Pyramids and the tomb of Mausolus. But when I saw the temple at Ephesus rising to the clouds, all these other wonders were put in the shade”.
You can still see a single column that is erected to remind the people of the original site in Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis’s remains stand on the exhibition in the British Museum.