Friday, August 23, 2013

Mystery Photo #22: Ephesis, Turkey

     Ephesus. This gorgeous and well preserved ancient city is located near Kusadasai, Turkey, fairly near the Mediterranean coast.

Statue of Artemis, the goddess honored
in the Ephesian Temple of Artemis. She
was a many breasted goddess,
sometimes confused with Diana.

     There was a Neolithic settlement in this area probably as far back as 6000 BC. Then the Myceneans who preceded the Greeks were there as well. The Hittites which are mentioned in the Bible wrote about a city in this area. Then finally in about 1000 BC Greeks migrated to the area and founded a city that became a cornerstone of what was called the Ionian League consisting of 12 cities in the area. By 550 BC the city was famed for its Temple of Artemis, a large pillared structure much like the Parthenon in Athens, and during its peak, the supposed largest building in the ancient world. This temple was one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. It was destroyed three times and rebuilt; the first time by flood, the second by fire and the third and final time in 268 AD by the Goths.  Not much remains of this temple, but the place where it was can be readily discerned and there are a few remains of its pillars. By the 1st century AD, the city of Ephesus had a population of 250,000. Many of the antiquities that still stand and make this remarkable city what it is, date back to this Roman city during the peak of the Roman Empire.
     The ruins of the Roman city itself are phenomenal. Of course, the facade pictured is the Library of Celsus which rivaled the famous library in Alexandria. It was built between 117 and 120 AD to honor a Roman senator by the name of Tiberias Julias Celsus Polemaeanus. His sarcophagus is beneath this facade. The library reportedly contained 12,000 scrolls. Unfortunately it was almost completely destroyed in an earthquake in 262 AD leaving only the facade, which was later destroyed also by earthquake. This facade was restored to look like the original between 1950 and 1960. The amphitheatre and many of the other monuments, the baths, etc are remarkably revealing about Roman life in the first and second century AD.
     One of the most amazing structures in Ephesus is a beautifully partially restored and covered first century AD apartment building or condominium building that had been completely silted in and protected on a hillside just up the Roman street from the Library of Celsus. The Turks have done a wonderful job of revealing, preserving, restoring, and presenting this wonderful building. It is completely covered and the visitor climbs up the hillside looking down into the many rooms which still contain wonderful mosaic floors and the actual original painting on the plastered walls.
     Ephesus is also well known for two Biblical personae who traveled to Ephesus and lived for quite a time there. One is the Virgin Mary. One version of her history says she died and is buried in the surrounds of Ephesus. She was in the care of the Apostle, St. John at that time. A small chapel commemorates the place of her buriel. And Apostle Saint John came here to proselytize. His grave is here in the remains of the Saint John's Basilica which was built under Roman Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century in the nearby city of Selcuk.
       I can not go into the complete detail about this city because the writings about it are extensive. I just know that it is one of the ancient cities that has most impressed my husband and I and we have seen a lot of ancient cities. I think the only world antiquity that still maintains its first place in my mind is Petra, Jordon. As a single ancient city, Ephesus and its present day appearance are right up there near the top.
     I have posted many of our photos of this city. Click on "Read More" to see them.

Can you guess what this is? The Roman Baths.

An overall view of the Roman baths.

The well preserved Roman Condominiums

Note the interior decorating

Mosaics and painted plaster walls.

A wonderful mosaic of a lion.

The painted walls

More views of the interior of one unit.

Aon overview of the city.

The Library of Celsus

How it looked inside back in the first century AD

A Menorah carved in its front steps of the Library.

Walking along the Roman street, one can imagine.

View toward the Mediterranean in the far distance. All this area was silted in
 between  1st Century AD and now. Ephesus then was a port on the Mediterranean.

Western Gate to the Stoa (marketplace)

The Great Amphitheatre, built in Hellenistic times and expanded in
Roman times, seated 25,000 at its peak size.

Harbor Street leading to the Amphitheatre in the Pinayar Hill

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