Ephesus: Wikis


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Ephesus (Ἔφεσος)
Ancient City of Anatolia
Library of Celsus
Ephesus is located in Turkey
Ephesus (Efes)

Ephesus (Ancient Greek Ἔφεσος, Turkish Efes) was an ancient Greek city on the west coast of Anatolia, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era. In the Roman period, it was for many years the second largest city of the Roman Empire; ranking behind Rome, the empire's capital.[1][2] Ephesus had a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, which also made it the second largest city in the world.[2]

The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BCE), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Temple was destroyed in 401 CE by a mob led by St. John Chrysostom.[3] Emperor Constantine I rebuilt much of the city and erected new public baths. The town was again partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614. The city's importance as a commercial center declined as the harbor was slowly silted up by the Cayster River (Küçük Menderes).

Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation.[4] The Gospel of John may have been written here.[5] It is also the site of a large gladiators' graveyard.

Today's archaeological site lies 3 kilometers southwest of the town of Selçuk, in the Selçuk district of İzmir Province, Turkey. The ruins of Ephesus are a favorite international and local tourist attraction, partly owing to their easy access from Adnan Menderes Airport and via the port of Kuşadası.




Neolithic age

The area surrounding Ephesus was already inhabited during the Neolithic Age (about 6000 BCE), as was revealed by the excavations at the nearby hoyuk (artificial mounds known as tells) of Arvalya and Cukurici.[6][7]

Bronze age

Excavations in recent years have unearthed settlements from the early Bronze Age at the Ayasuluk Hill. In 1954 a burial ground from the Mycenaean era (1500-1400 BCE) with ceramic pots was discovered close to the ruins of the basilica of St. John.[8] This was the period of the Mycenaean Expansion when the Achaioi (as they were called by Homer) settled in Ahhiyawa during the 14th and 13th centuries BCE. Scholars believe that Ephesus was founded on the settlement of Apasa (or Abasa), a Bronze Age-city noted in 14th-century BCE Hittite sources as in the land of Ahhiyawa. [9]

Dark age

Site of the Temple of Artemis in the town of Selçuk, near Ephesus.

The city of Ephesus itself was founded as an Attic-Ionian colony in the 10th century BCE on the Ayasuluk Hill, three kilometers from the center of antique Ephesus (as attested by excavations at the Seljuk castle during the 1990s). The mythical founder of the city was a prince of Athens named Androklos, who had to leave his country after the death of his father, King Kadros. According to legend, he founded Ephesus on the place where the oracle of Delphi became reality ("A fish and a boar will show you the way"). Androklos drove away most of the native Carian and Lelegian inhabitants of the city and united his people with the remainder. He was a successful warrior and, as king, he was able to join the twelve cities of Ionia together into the Ionian League. During his reign the city began to prosper. He died in a battle against the Carians when he came to the aid of Priene, another city of the Ionian League.[10] Androklos and his dog are depicted on the Hadrian temple frieze, dating from the second century. Later, Greek historians such as Pausanias, Strabo and the poet Kallinos, and the historian Herodotos however reassigned the city's mythological foundation to Ephos, queen of the Amazons.

The Greek goddess Artemis and the great Anatolian goddess Kybele were identified together as Artemis of Ephesus. The many-breasted "Lady of Ephesus", identified with Artemis, was venerated in the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World and the largest building of the ancient world according to Pausanias (4.31.8). Pausanius mentions that the temple was built by Ephesus, son of the river god Caystrus.[11] before the arrival of the Ionians. Of this structure, scarcely a trace remains.

Archaic period

About 650 BCE, Ephesus was attacked by the Cimmerians, who razed the city, including the temple of Artemis. A few small Cimmerian artifacts can be seen at the archaeological museum of Ephesus.

When the Cimmerians had been driven away, the city was ruled by a series of tyrants. After a revolt by the people, Ephesus was ruled by a council called the Kuretes. The city prospered again, producing a number of important historical figures, such as the iambic poets Callinus [12] and the satirist Hipponax, the philosopher Heraclitus, the great painter Parrhasius and later the grammarian Zenodotos, the physicians Soranus and Rufus.

About 560 BCE Ephesus was conquered by the Lydians under the mighty king Croesus. He treated the inhabitants with respect, despite ruling harshly, and even became the main contributor to the reconstruction of the temple of Artemis.[13] His signature has been found on the base of one of the columns of the temple (now on display in the British Museum). Croesus made the populations of the different settlements around Ephesus regroup (synoikismos) in the vicinity of the Temple of Artemis, enlarging the city.

Later in the same century, the Lydians under Croesus invaded Persia. The Ionians refused a peace offer from Cyrus the Great, siding with the Lydians instead. After the Persians defeated Croesus the Ionians offered to make peace but Cyrus insisted that they surrender and become part of the empire.[14] They were defeated by the Persian army commander Harpagos in 547 BCE. The Persians then incorporated the Greek cities of Asia Minor into the Achaemenid Empire. Those cities were then ruled by satraps.

Ephesus has intrigued archaeologists for the main reason that for the Archaic Period, there is no definite location for the settlement. There are numerous sites to suggest the movement of a settlement between the Bronze Age and the Roman period but the silting up of the natural harbors as well as the movement of the Kayster River meant that the location never remainded the same.

Classical period

Ephesus continued to prosper. But when taxes continued to be raised under Cambyses II and Darius, the Ephesians participated in the Ionian Revolt against Persian rule in the Battle of Ephesus (498 BCE), an event which instigated the Greco-Persian wars. In 479 BCE, the Ionians, together with Athens and Sparta, were able to oust the Persians from Anatolia. In 478 BCE, the Ionian cities entered with Athens and Sparta into the Delian League against the Persians. Ephesus did not contribute ships but gave financial support by offering the treasure of Apollo to the goddess Athena, protectress of Athens.

During the Peloponnesian War, Ephesus was first allied to Athens but sided in a later phase, called the Decelean War, or the Ionian War, with Sparta, which also had received the support of the Persians. As a result, rule over the kingdoms of Anatolia was ceded again to Persia.

These wars did not much affect daily life in Ephesus. The Ephesians were surprisingly modern in their social relations. They allowed strangers to integrate. Education was much valued. Through the cult of Artemis, the city also became a bastion of women's rights. Ephesus even had its female artists. In later times, Pliny the Elder mentioned having seen at Ephesus a representation of the goddess Diana by Timarata, the daughter of a painter.

In 356 BCE the temple of Artemis was burned down, according to legend, by a lunatic called Herostratus. By coincidence, this was the night that Alexander the Great was born. The inhabitants of Ephesus at once set about restoring the temple and even planned a larger and grander one than the original.

Hellenistic period

Historical map of Ephesus, from Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1888

When Alexander the Great defeated the Persian forces at the Battle of Granicus in 334 BCE, the Greek cities of Asia Minor were liberated. The pro-Persian tyrant Syrpax and his family were stoned to death, and Alexander was greeted warmly when he entered Ephesus in triumph. When Alexander saw that the temple of Artemis was not yet finished, he proposed to finance it and have his name inscribed on the front. But the inhabitants of Ephesus demurred, claiming that it was not fitting for one god to build a temple to another. After Alexander's death in 323 BCE, Ephesus in 290 BCE came under the rule of one of Alexander's generals, Lysimachus.

As the river Cayster silted up the harbor, the resulting marshes caused malaria and many deaths among the inhabitants. The people of Ephesus were forced to move to a new settlement two kilometers further on, when the king flooded the old city by blocking the sewers.[15] This settlement was called after the king's second wife, Arsinoe II of Egypt. After Lysimachus had destroyed the nearby cities of Lebedos and Colophon in 292 BCE, he relocated their inhabitants to the new city. The architectural layout of the city would remain unchanged for the next 500 years.

Ephesus revolted after the treacherous death of Agathocles, giving the Syrian king Seleucus I Nicator an opportunity for removing and killing Lysimachus, his last rival, at the Battle of Corupedium in 281 BCE. After the death of Lysimachos the town took again the name of Ephesus.

Thus Ephese became part of the Seleucid Empire. After the murder of king Antiochus II Theos and his Egyptian wife, pharaoh Ptolemy III invaded the Seleucid Empire and the Egyptian fleet swept the coast of Asia Minor. Ephesus came under Egyptian rule between 263-197 BCE.

When the Seleucid king Antiochus III the Great tried to regain the Greek cities of Asia Minor, he came in conflict with Rome. After a series of battles, he was defeated by Scipio Asiaticus at the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BCE. As a result, Ephesus came under the rule of the Attalid king of Pergamon Eumenes II (197-133 BCE). When his grandson Attalus III died without male children of his own, he left his kingdom to the Roman Republic.

Roman period

Temple of Hadrian.

Ephesus became subject of the Roman Republic. The city felt at once the Roman influence. Taxes rose considerably and the treasures of the city were systematically plundered. In 88 BCE Ephesus welcomed Archelaus, a general of Mithridates the Great, king of Pontus, when he conquered Western Anatolia. This led to the Asiatic Vespers, the slaughter of 80,000 Roman citizens in Asia Minor, or any person who spoke with a Latin accent. Many had lived in Ephesus. But when they saw how badly the people of Chios had been treated by Zenobius, a general of Mithridates, they refused entry to his army. Zenobius was invited into the city to visit Philopoemen (the father of Monima, the favorite wife of Mithridates) and the overseer of Ephesus. As the people expected nothing good of him, they threw him into prison and murdered him. Mithridates took revenge and inflicted terrible punishments. However, the Greek cities were given freedom and several substantial rights. Ephesus became, for a short time, self-governing. When Mithridates was defeated in the First Mithridatic War by the Roman consul Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Ephesus came back under Roman rule in 86 BCE. Sulla imposed a huge indemnity, along with five years of back taxes, which left Asian cities heavily in debt for a long time to come.[16]

When Augustus became emperor in 27 BCE, he made Ephesus instead of Pergamum the capital of proconsular Asia, which covered western Asia Minor. Ephesus entered an era of prosperity. It became the seat of the governor, growing into a metropolis and a major center of commerce. It was second in importance and size only to Rome.[17] Ephesus has been estimated to be in the range of 400,000 to 500,000 inhabitants in the year 100, making it the largest city in Roman Asia and of the day. Ephesus was at its peak during the first and second century CE.

The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (Diana),[18] who had her chief shrine there, the Library of Celsus, and its theatre, which was capable of holding 25,000 spectators. This open-air theater was used initially for drama, but during later Roman times gladiatorial combats were also held on its stage, with the first archaeological evidence of a gladiator graveyard found in May 2007.[19] The population of Ephesus also had several major bath complexes, built at various points while the city was under Roman rule. The city had one of the most advanced aqueduct systems in the ancient world, with multiple aqueducts of various sizes to supply different areas of the city, including 4 major aqueducts.

The city and temple were destroyed by the Goths in 263. This marked the decline of the city's splendor.

Byzantine era (395-1071)

Ephesus remained the most important city of the Byzantine Empire in Asia after Constantinople in the 5th and 6th centuries. The emperor Constantine I rebuilt much of the city and erected a new public bath. In 406 John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople, ordered the destruction of the Temple of Artemis.[20] Emperor Flavius Arcadius raised the level of the street between the theatre and the harbour. The basilica of St. John was built during the reign of emperor Justinian I in the sixth century.

The town was again partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614.

The importance of the city as a commercial center declined as the harbor was slowly silted up by the river (today, Küçük Menderes) despite repeated dredging during the city's history.[21] (Today, the harbor is 5 kilometers inland). The loss of its harbor caused Ephesus to lose its access to the Aegean Sea, which was important for trade. People started leaving the lowland of the city for the surrounding hills. The ruins of the temples were used as building blocks for new homes. Marble sculptures were ground to powder to make lime for plaster.

Sackings by the Arabs first in the year 654-655 by caliph Muawiyah I, and later in 700 and 716 hastened the decline further.

When the Seljuk Turks conquered Ephesus in 1090,[22] it was a small village. The Byzantines resumed control in 1100 and changed the name of the town into Hagios Theologos. They kept control of the region until 1308. Crusaders, passing through, were surprised that there was only a small village, called Ayasalouk, where they had expected a bustling city with a large seaport. Even the temple of Artemis was completely forgotten by the local population.

Turkish era

The town was conquered in 1304 by Sasa Bey, an army commander of the Menteşoğulları principality. Shortly afterwards, it was ceded to the Aydınoğulları principality that stationed a powerful navy in the harbour of Ayasuluğ (the present-day Selçuk, next to Ephesus). Ayasoluk became an important harbour, from where the navy organised raids to the surrounding regions.

The town knew again a short period of flourishing during the 14th century under these new Seljuk rulers. They added important architectural works such as the İsa Bey Mosque, caravansaries and Turkish bathhouses (hamam).

They were incorporated as vassals into the Ottoman Empire for the first time in 1390. The Central Asian warlord Tamerlane defeated the Ottomans in Anatolia in 1402 and the Ottoman sultan Bayezid I died in captivity. The region was restored to the Anatolian Turkish Beyliks. After a period of unrest, the region was again incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1425.

Ephesus was eventually completely abandoned in the 15th century and lost her former glory. Nearby Ayasuluğ was renamed Selçuk in 1914.

Ephesus and Christianity

Ephesus was an important center for Early Christianity from the AD 50s. From AD 52-54, Paul lived here, working with the congregation and apparently organizing missionary activity into the hinterlands.[23] He became embroiled in a dispute with artisans, whose livelihood depended on selling the statuettes of Artemis in the Temple of Artemis (Acts 19:23–41). He wrote between 53 and 57 AD the letter 1 Corinthians from Ephesus (possibly from the "Paul tower" close to the harbour, where he was imprisoned for a short time). Later Paul wrote to the Christian community at Ephesus, while he was in prison in Rome (around 62 AD)

Anatolia was associated with John,[24] one of the chief apostles, and the Gospel of John might have been written in Ephesus, c 90-100.[25] Ephesus was one of the seven cities addressed in Revelation (2:1–7), indicating that the church at Ephesus was still strong.

Two decades later, the church at Ephesus there was still important enough to be addressed by a letter written by Bishop Ignatius of Antioch to the Ephesians in the early 2nd century AD, that begins with, "Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which is at Ephesus, in Asia, deservedly most happy, being blessed in the greatness and fullness of God the Father, and predestinated before the beginning of time, that it should be always for an enduring and unchangeable glory" (Letter to the Ephesians). The church at Ephesus had given their support for Ignatius, who was taken to Rome for execution.

The house of the Virgin Mary, about 7 km (4 mi) from Selçuk, is believed to have been the last home of Mary, mother of Jesus. It is a popular place of pilgrimage which has been visited by three recent popes.

The Church of Mary close to the harbor of Ephesus was the setting for the Third Ecumenical Council in 431, which resulted in the condemnation of Nestorius. A Second Council of Ephesus was held in 449, but its controversial acts were never approved by the Catholics. It came to be called the Robber Council of Ephesus or Robber Synod of Latrocinium by its opponents.

Main sites

Gate of Augustus.

Ephesus contains the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean. Only an estimated 15% has been excavated. The ruins that are visible give some idea of the city's original splendor, and the names associated with the ruins are evocative of its former life. The theater dominates the view down Harbour Street, which leads to the long-silted-up harbor.

The Library of Celsus, the façade of which has been carefully reconstructed from all original pieces, was built ca. CE 125 by Gaius Julius Aquila in memory of his father and once held nearly 12,000 scrolls. Designed with an exaggerated entrance — so as to enhance its perceived size, speculate many historians — the building faces east so that the reading rooms could make best use of the morning light.

A part of the site, Basilica of St. John, was built in the 6th century CE, under emperor Justinian I over the supposed site of the apostle's tomb. It is now surrounded by Selçuk.

The Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is represented only by one inconspicuous column, revealed during an archaeological excavation by the British Museum in the 1870s. Some fragments of the frieze (which are insufficient to suggest the form of the original) and other small finds were removed – some to London and some to the Archaeological Museum, Istanbul. Other edifices excavated include:

  • The Odeon - a small roofed theater[26] constructed by Vedius Antonius and his wife in around 150 CE It was a small salon for plays and concerts, seating about 1,500 people. There were 22 stairs in the theater. The upper part of the theater was decorated with red granite pillars in the Corinthian style. The entrances were at both sides of the stage and reached by a few steps.[27]
  • The Temple of Hadrian dates from the 2nd century but underwent repairs in the 4th century and has been reerected from the surviving architectural fragments. The reliefs in the upper sections are casts, the originals being now exhibited in the Selçuk Archaeological Museum. A number of figures are depicted in the reliefs, including the emperor Theodosius I with his wife and eldest son.[28] The temple was depicted on the reverse of the Turkish 20 million lira banknote of 2001-2005[29] and of the 20 new lira banknote of 2005-2009.[30]
  • The Temple of Domitian was one of the largest temples on the city. It was erected on a pseudodipteral plan with 8 x 13 columns. The temple and its statue are some of the few remains connected with Domitian.[28]
  • The Theater - At an estimated 44,000 seating capacity, it is believed to be the largest outdoor theater in the ancient world.[31]
  • The Tomb/Fountain of Pollio - erected by a grateful city in 97 CE in honor of C. Sextilius Pollio, who constructed the Marnas aqueduct, by Offilius Proculus. It has a concave facade.[27][28]

There were two agoras, one for commercial and one for state business.[32][33]

Seven sleepers

Ephesus is believed to be the city of the Seven Sleepers. The story of the Seven Sleepers, who are considered saints by Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Muslims, tells that they were persecuted because of their belief in God and that they slept in a cave near Ephesus for centuries.

Image of Ephesus on the reverse of the 20 new lira banknote (2005-2008)


The history of archaeological research in Ephesus stretches back to 1863, when the British architect John Turtle Wood, sponsored by the British Museum, began to search for the Artemision. In 1869 he discovered the pavement of the temple, but since further expected discoveries were not made the excavations stopped in 1874. In 1895 German archaeologist Otto Benndorf, financed by a 10,000 guilder donation made by the Austrian Karl Mautner Ritter von Markhof, resumed excavations. In 1898 Benndorf founded the Austrian Archaeological Institute which plays a leading role in Ephesus until today.[34]

Notable persons

See also


  1. ^ Quezi: Ephesus
  2. ^ a b Oklahoma Christian University: Ephesus
  3. ^ John Freely, The Western Shores of Turkey: Discovering the Aegean and Mediterranean Coasts, 2004, p. 148.
  4. ^ 2:1–7
  5. ^ Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible, Palo Alto, Mayfield, 1985.
  6. ^ [VIII. Muze Kurtrma Kazilari Semineri ] Adil Evren - Cengiz Icten,pp 111-133 1997
  7. ^ [Arkeoloji ve Sanat Dergisi - Cukurici Hoyuk sayi 92 ] Adil Evren 1998
  8. ^ Coskun Özgünel (1996). "Mykenische Keramik in Anatolien". Asia Minor Studien 23.  
  9. ^ Akurgal, Ekrem (2001). The Hattian and Hittite Civilizations. Publications of the Republic of Turkey; Ministry of Culture. p. 111. ISBN 975-17-2756-1.  
  10. ^ Pausanius (1965). Description of Greece,. New York: Loeb Classical Library. pp. 7.2.8–9.  
  11. ^ "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology". Ancientlibrary.com. http://www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-bio/1133.html. Retrieved 2009-04-20.  
  12. ^ translation by M.L. West (1999). Greek Lyric Poetry. Oxford University Press. p. 21. ISBN 0192836781. http://books.google.be/books?hl=nl&lr=&id=cABi5Pt7FgQC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=Ephesus++%22poetess%22&ots=T730ospusU&sig=EMrKry8YitSs5MXiO0zHzmVi3s4#PPP1,M1.  
  13. ^ Cremin, Aedeen (2007). The World Encyclopedia of Archaeology. Richmond Hill, Ontario: Firefly Books. p. 173. ISBN 1554073111.  
  14. ^ Herodotus i. 141
  15. ^ Strabo (1923-1932). Geography (volume 1-7). Cambridge: Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press. pp. 14.1.21.  
  16. ^ Appian of Alexandria (c.95-c.165). "History of Rome: The Mithridatic Wars §§46-50". http://www.livius.org/ap-ark/appian/appian_mithridatic_10.html. Retrieved 2007-10-02.  
  17. ^ Strabo . Geography (volume 1-7) 14.1.24. Cambridge: Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press
  18. ^ "accessed September 14, 2007". Penelope.uchicago.edu. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/Europe/Turkey/_Periods/Greek/_Texts/LETGKB/Ephesus*.html. Retrieved 2009-04-20.  
  19. ^ Kupper, Monika (2007-05-02). "http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6614479.stm". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6614479.stm. Retrieved 2009-04-20.  
  20. ^ "Christian Persecutions against the Hellenes". Ysee.gr. http://www.ysee.gr/index-eng.php?type=english&f=lovestories. Retrieved 2009-04-20.  
  21. ^ Tore Kjeilen (2007-02-20). "accessed September 24, 2007". Lexicorient.com. http://lexicorient.com/e.o/ephesus.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-20.  
  22. ^ Foss, Clive (1979) Ephesus after antiquity: a late antique, Byzantine, and Turkish city, Cambridge University Press, p. 121.
    Gökovalı, Şadan; Altan Erguvan (1982) Ephesus, Ticaret Matbaacılık, p.7.
  23. ^ "Paul, St." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  24. ^ Durant, Will. Caesar and Christ. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1972
  25. ^ Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. "The Gospels" p. 266-268
  26. ^ "accessed September 24, 2007". Community.iexplore.com. http://community.iexplore.com/planning/journalEntryActivity.asp?JournalID=7393&EntryID=13307&n=The+Theater+and+The+Odeum. Retrieved 2009-04-20.  
  27. ^ a b Keskin, Naci. Ephesus. ISBN 975-7559-48-2
  28. ^ a b c Ephesus. Distributed by Rehber Basım Yayın Dağıtım Reklamcılık ve Tic. A.Ş. and Revak publishers. ISBN 975-8212-11-7,
  29. ^ Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey. Banknote Museum: 7. Emission Group - Twenty Million Turkish Lira - I. Series. – Retrieved on 20 April 2009.
  30. ^ Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey. Banknote Museum: 8. Emission Group - Twenty New Turkish Lira - I. Series.
    Announcement on the Withdrawal of E8 New Turkish Lira Banknotes from Circulation, 8 May 2007. – Retrieved on 20 April 2009.
  31. ^ "accessed September 21, 2007". Biblestudy.org. http://www.biblestudy.org/biblepic/picture-of-largest-outdoor-theatre-in-ancient-world.html. Retrieved 2009-04-20.  
  32. ^ Ephesus.us. "accessed September 21, 2007". Ephesus.us. http://www.ephesus.us/ephesus/agora.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-20.  
  33. ^ Ephesus.us. "State Agora, Ephesus Turkey". Ephesus.us. http://www.ephesus.us/ephesus/stateagora.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-20.  
  34. ^ "Ephesos - An Ancient Metropolis: Exploration and History". Austrian Archaeological Institute. October 2008. http://www.oeai.at/eng/ausland/geschichte.html. Retrieved 2009-11-01.  

External links

  • lib.utexas.edu/maps, Map of Asia Minor (modern Turkey) which shows Ephesus in the province of Lydia close to the Aegean Sea.
  • unc.edu, Map of the Roman Empire at the end of the second century.
  • lib.utexas.edu/maps, Map of the eastern half of the Roman Empire.
  • online.mq.edu.au, Coinage of Ephesus, Macquarie University, Australia.
  • whitman.edu/theatre, The Theater at Ephesus, The Ancient Theater Archive, Theater specifications and virtual reality tour of theater.
  • asiaminorcoins.com, Asia Minor Coins - Greek and Roman coins from ancient Ephesos.
  • fotopedia.com, Selected photos of Ephesus.

Coordinates: 37°56′23″N 27°20′27″E / 37.93972°N 27.34083°E / 37.93972; 27.34083

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Ephesus (Turkish: Efes) is a large archeological site in Aegean Turkey and one of the country's major tourist attractions.

Celsius Library in Ephesus
Celsius Library in Ephesus

Get in

You can walk from Selcuk. It is a 4km walk in a good asphalt way. It is also possible to take a taxi, which is relatively expensive,compared to other Turkish transportation. Most pensions and hotels in Selcuk offer rides to Ephesus. The cheaper way is to go by minibuses(shared taxi)(Called as Dolmuş in Turkish) which are available every 10-15 minutes from Selcuk central bus station or from Kusadasi Dolmuş stop. The minibus will leave you at around 1km from the gate situated downhill. --Accession to Selcuk--

By airway to Izmir International airport.By train(from airport) , By bus (from Izmir central bus station) or Hotel shuttles to Selcuk. Airport to Selçuk, 55 Km.
By cruise ship via the port of Kuşadası.By bus or minibus (from Kusadasi central bus station), or by taxi to Selcuk,19 Km.

Entry tickets cost 20 TL/person.


All major languages.(Including Russian, Japanese and Chinese)

Get around

The grounds of Ephesus are seen entirely on foot. Pathways are signed clearly and easily navigated as you make your way through the park. Fortunately, the ruins are situated on the bank of a hill. Most visitors arrive at the upper gates and make their way downhill to the exit gates.


There are many souvenir shops at the two exit gates. You may find Turkish hand made articles. Haggling is possible. The best way is to compare prices in two or three more shops before you buy. It is not a good place to buy carpet and leather, you can buy them in big shops at Selcuk with a reasonable price.


There are many fast food and small Turkish restaurants at the exit gates. You can find many nice restaurants on the way to Selcuk or Kusadasi or in the towns.


There are many cafés at the exit gates.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

EPHESUS, an ancient Ionian city on the west coast of Asia Minor. In historic times it was situate on the lower slopes of the hills, Coressus and Prion, which rise out of a fertile plain near the mouth of the river Cayster, while the temple and precinct of Artemis or Diana, to the fame of which the town owed much of its celebrity, were in the plain itself, E.N.E. at a distance of about a mile. But there is reason to think both town and shrine had different sites in pre-Ionian times, and that both lay farther south among the foot-hills of Mt. Solmissus. The situation of the city was such as at all times to command a great commerce. Of the three great river basins of Ionia and Lydia, those of the Hermus, Cayster and Maeander, it commanded the second, and had already access by easy passes to the other two.

The earliest inhabitants assigned to Ephesus by Greek writers are the "Amazons," with whom we hear of Leleges, Carians and Pelasgi. In the 11th century B.C., according to tradition (the date is probably too early), Androclus, son of the Athenian king Codrus, landed on the spot with his Ionians and a mixed body of colonists; and from his conquest dates the history of the Greek Ephesus. The deity of the city was Artemis; but we must guard against misconception when we use that name, remembering that she bore close relation to the primitive Asiatic goddess of nature, whose cult existed before the Ionian migration at the neighbouring Ortygia, and that she always remained the virgin-mother of all life and especially wild life, and an embodiment of the fertility and productive power of the earth. The well-known monstrous representation of her, as a figure with many breasts, swathed below the waist in grave-clothes, was probably of late and alien origin. In early Ionian times she seems to have been represented as a natural matronly figure, sometimes accompanied by a child, and to have been a more typically Hellenic goddess than she became in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Twice in the period 700 -500 B.C. the city owed its preservation to the interference of the goddess; once when the swarms of the Cimmerians overran Asia Minor in the 7th century and burnt the Artemision itself; and once when Croesus besieged the town in the century succeeding, and only retired after it had solemnly dedicated itself to Artemis, the sign of such dedication being the stretching of a rope from city to sanctuary. Croesus was eager in every way to propitiate the goddess, and since about this time her temple was being restored on an enlarged scale, he presented most of the columns required for the building as well as some cows of gold. That is to say, these gifts were probably paid for out of the proceeds of the sequestration of the property of a rich Lydian merchant, Sadyattes, which Croesus presented to Ephesus (Nic. Damasc. fr. 65). To counteract, perhaps, the growing Lydian influence, Athens, the mother-city of Ephesus, despatched one of her noblest citizens, Aristarchus, to restore law on the basis of the Soloman constitution. The labours of Aristarchus seem to have borne fruit. It was an Ephesian follower of his, Hermodorus, who aided the Decemviri at Rome in their compilation of a system of law. And in the same generation Heraclitus, probably a descendant of Codrus, quitted his hereditary magistracy in order to devote himself to philosophy, in which his name became almost as great as that of any Greek. Poetry had long flourished at Ephesus. From very early times the Homeric poems found a home and admirers there; and to Ephesus belong the earliest elegiac poems of Greece, the war songs of Callinus, who flourished in the 7th century B.C. and was the model of Tyrtaeus. The city seems to have been more than once under tyrannical rule in the early Ionian period; and it fell thereafter first to Croesus of Lydia, and then to Cyrus, the Persian, and when the Ionian revolt against Persia broke out in the year 500 B.C. under the lead of Miletus, the city remained submissive to Persian rule. When Xerxes returned from the march against Greece, he honoured the temple of Artemis, although he sacked other Ionian shrines, and even left his children behind at Ephesus for safety's sake. We hear again of Persian respect for the temple in the time of Tissaphernes (411 B.C.). After the final Persian defeat at the Eurymedon (466 B.C.), Ephesus for a time paid tribute to Athens, with the other cities of the coast, and Lysander first and Agesilaus afterwards made it their headquarters. To the latter fact we owe a contemporary description of it by Xenophon. In the early part of the 4th century it fell again under Persian influence, and was administered by an oligarchy.

Alexander was received by the Ephesians in 334, and established democratic government. Soon after his death the city fell into the hands of Lysimachus, who introduced fresh Greek colonists from Lebedus and Colophon and, it is said, by means of an artificial inundation compelled those who still dwelt in the plain by the temple to migrate to the city on the hills, which he surrounded by a solid wall. He renamed the city after his wife Arsinoe, but the old name was soon resumed. Ephesus was very prosperous during the Hellenistic period, and is conspicuous both then and later for the abundance of its coinage, which gives us a more complete list of magistrates' names than we have for any other Ionian city. The Roman coinage is remarkable for the great variety and importance of its types. After the defeat of Antiochus the Great, king of Syria, by the Romans, Ephesus was handed over by the conquerors to Eumenes, king of Pergamum, whose successor, Attalus Philadelphus, unintentionally worked the city irremediable harm. Thinking that the shallowness of the harbour was due to the width of its mouth, he built a mole part-way across the latter; the result, however, was that the silting up of the harbour proceeded more rapidly than before. The third Attalus of Pergamum bequeathed Ephesus with the rest of his possessions to the Roman people, and it became for a while the chief city, and for longer the first port, of the province of Asia, the richest in the empire. Henceforth Ephesus remained subject to the Romans, save for a short period, when, at the instigation of Mithradates Eupator of Pontus, the cities of Asia Minor revolted and massacred their Roman residents. The Ephesians even dragged out and slew those Romans who had fled to the precinct of Artemis for protection, notwithstanding which sacrilege they soon returned from their new to their former masters, and even had the effrontery to state, in an inscription preserved to this day, that their defection to Mithradates was a mere yielding to superior force. Sulla, after his victory over Mithradates, brushed away their pretexts, and inflicting a very heavy fine told them that the punishment fell far short of their deserts. In the civil wars of the 1st century B.C. the Ephesians twice supported the unsuccessful party, giving shelter to, or being made use of by, first, Brutus and Cassius, and afterwards Antony, for which partisanship or weakness they paid very heavily in fines.

All this time the city was gradually growing in wealth and in devotion to the service of Artemis. The story of St Paul's doings there illustrates this fact, and the sequel is very suggestive, - the burning, namely, of books of sorcery of great value. Addiction to the practice of occult arts had evidently become general in the now semi-orientalized city. The Christian Church which Paul planted there was governed by Timothy and John, and is famous in Christian tradition as a nurse of saints and martyrs. According to local belief, Ephesus was also the last home of the Virgin, who was lodged near the city by St John and there died. But to judge from the Apocalyptic Letter to this Church (as shown by Sir W. M. Ramsay), the latter showed a dangerous tendency to lightness and reaction, and later events show that the pagan tradition of Artemis continued very strong and perhaps never became quite extinct in the Ephesian district. It was, indeed, long before the spread of Christianity threatened the old local cult. The city was proud to be termed neocorus or servant of the goddess. Roman emperors vied with wealthy natives in lavish gifts, one Vibius Salutaris among the latter presenting a quantity of gold and silver images to be carried annually in procession. Ephesus contested stoutly with Smyrna and Pergamum the honour of being called the first city of Asia; each city appealed to Rome, and we still possess rescripts in which the emperors endeavoured to mitigate the bitterness of the rivalry. One privilege Ephesus secured; the Roman governor of Asia always landed and first assumed office there: and it was long the provincial centre of the official cult of the emperor, and seat of the Asiarch. The Goths destroyed both city and temple in the year A.D. 262, and although the city revived and the cult of Artemis continued, neither ever recovered its former splendour. A general council of the Christian Church was held there in 431 in the great double church of St Mary, which is still to be seen. On this occasion Nestorius was condemned, and the honour of the Virgin established as Theotokus, amid great popular rejoicing, due, doubtless, in some measure to the hold which the cult of the virgin Artemis still had on the city. (On this council see below.) Thereafter Ephesus seems to have been gradually deserted owing to its malaria; and life transferred itself to another and higher site near the Artemision, the name of which, Ayassoluk (written by early Arab geographers Ayathulukh), is now known to be a corruption of the title of St John TheolOgos, given to a great cathedral built on a rocky hill near the present railway station, in the time of Justinian I. This church was visited by Ibn Batuta in A.D. 1333; but few traces are now visible. The ruins of the Artemision, after serving as a quarry to local builders, were finally covered deep with mud by the river Cayster, or one of its left bank tributaries, the Selinus, and the true site remained unsuspected until 1869.


The first light thrown on the topography of Ephesus was due to the excavations conducted by the architect, J. T. Wood, on behalf of the trustees:of the British Museum, during the years 1863-1874. He first explored the Odeum and the Great Theatre situate in the city itself, and in the latter place had the good fortune to find an inscription which indicated to him in what direction to search for the Artemision; for it stated that processions came to the city from the temple by the Magnesian gate and returned by the Coressian. These two gates were next identified, and following up that road which issued from the Magnesian gate, Wood lighted first on a ruin which he believed to be the tomb of Androclus, and afterwards on an angle of the peribolus wall of the time of Augustus. After further tentative explorations, he struck the actual pavement of the Artemision on the last day of 1869.

The Artemision

Wood removed the whole stratum of superficial deposit, nearly 20 ft. deep, which overlay the huge area of the temple, and exposed to view not only the scanty remains of the latest edifice, built after 350 B.C., but the platform of an earlier temple, now known to be that of the 6th century to which Croesus contributed. Below this he did not find any remains. He discovered and sent to England parts of several sculptured drums (columnae caelatae) of the latest temple, and archaic sculptures from the drums and parapet of the earlier building. He also made accurate measurements and a plan of the Hellenistic temple, found many inscriptions and a few miscellaneous antiquities, and had begun to explore the Precinct, when the great expense and other considerations induced the trustees of the British Museum to suspend his operations in 1874. Wood made two subsequent attempts to resume work, but failed; and the site lay desolate till 190 4, when the trustees, wishing to have further information about the earlier strata and the Precinct, sent D. G. Hogarth to re-examine the remains. As a result of six months' work, Wood's "earliest temple" was recleared and planned, remains of three earlier shrines were found beneath it, a rich deposit of offerings, &c., belonging to the earliest shrine was discovered, and tentative explorations were made in the Precinct. This deep digging, however, which reached the sand of the original marsh, released much ground water and resulted in the permanent flooding of the site.

The history of the Artemision, as far as it can be inferred from the remains, is as follows. (1) There was no temple on the plain previous to the Ionian occupation, the primeval seat of the nature-goddess having been in the southern hills, at Ortygia (near mod. Arvalia). Towards the end of the 8th century B.C. a small shrine came into existence on the plain. This was little more than a small platform of green schist with a sacred tree and an altar, and perhaps later a wooden icon (image), the whole enclosed in a temenos: but, as is proved by a great treasure of objects in precious and other metals, ivory, bone, crystal, paste, glass, terra-cotta and other materials, found in 1904-1905, partly within the platform on which the cult-statue stood and partly outside, in the lowest stratum of deposit, this early shrine was presently enriched by Greeks with many and splendid offerings of Hellenic workmanship. A large number of electron coins, found among these offerings, and in style the earliest of their class known, combine with other evidence to date the whole treasure to a period considerably anterior to the reign of Croesus. This treasure is now divided between the museums of Constantinople and London. (2) Within a short time, perhaps after the Cimmerian sack (? 650 B.C.), this shrine was restored, slightly enlarged, and raised in level, but not altered in character. (3) About the close of the century, for some reason not known, but possibly owing to collapse brought about by the marshy nature of the site, this was replaced by a temple of regular Hellenic form. The latter was built in relation to the earlier central statue-base but at a higher level than either of its predecessors, doubtless for dryness' sake. Very little but its foundations was spared by later builders, and there is now no certain evidence of its architectural character; but it is very probable that it was the early temple in which the Ionic order is said to have been first used, after the colonists had made use of Doric in their earlier constructions (e.g. in the Panionion); and that it was the work of the Cnossian Chersiphron and his son, Metagenes, always regarded afterwards as the first builders of a regular Artemision. Their temple is said by Strabo to have been made bigger by another architect. (4) The latter's work must have been the much larger temple, exposed by Wood, and usually known as the Archaic or Croesus temple. This overlies the remains of No. 3, at a level higher by about a metre, and the area of its cella alone contains the whole of the earlier shrines. Its central point, however, was still the primitive statue-base, now enlarged and heightened. About half its pavement, parts of the cella walls and of three columns of the peristyle, and the foundations of nearly all the platform, are still in position. The visible work was all of very fine white marble, quarried about 7 m. N.E., near the modern Kos Bunar. Fragments of reliefsculptures belonging to the parapet and columns, and of fluted drums and capitals, cornices and other architectural members have been recovered, showing that the workmanship and Ionic style were of the highest excellence, and that the building presented a variety of ornament, rare among Hellenic temples. The whole ground-plan covered about 80,000 sq. ft. The height of the temple is doubtful, the measurements of columns given us by later authority having reference probably to its successor, the height of which was considered abnormal and marvellous. Judged by the diameter of the drums, the columns of the Croesus temple were not two-thirds of the height of those of the Hellenistic temple. This fourth temple is, beyond question, that to which Croesus contributed, and it was, therefore, in process of building about 540 B.C. Our authorities seem to be referring to it when they tell us that the Artemision was raised by common contribution of the great cities of Asia, and took 120 years to complete. It was dedicated with great ceremony, probably between 430 and 420 B.C., and the famous Timotheus, son of Thersander, carried off the magnificent prize for a lyric ode against all comers. Its original architects were, probably, Paeonius of Ephe sus, and Demetrius, a 1Epos of the shrine itself: but it has been suggested that the latter may have been rather the actual contracting builder than the architect. Of this temple Herodotus speaks as existing in his day; and unless weight be given to an isolated statement of Eusebius, that it was burned about 395 B.C., we must assume that it survived until the night when one Herostratus, desirous of acquiring ° eternal fame if only by a great crime, set it alight. This is said to have hapC, pened in 356 B.C. on the October night on which Alexander the Great came into the world, and, as Hegesias said, the goddess herself was absent, assisting at the birth; but the exactness of this portentous synchronism makes the date suspect. (5) It was succeeded by what is called the Hellenistic temple, begun almost immediately after the catastrophe, according to plans drawn by the famous Dinocrates the architect of Alexandria. The platform was once more raised to a higher level, some 7 ft. above that of the Archaic, by means of huge foundation blocks bedded upon the earlier structures; and this increase of elevation necessitated a slight expansion of the area all round, and ten steps in place of three. The new columns were of greater diameter than the old and over 60 ft. high; and from its great height the whole structure was regarded as a marvel, and accounted one of the wonders of the world. Since, however, other Greek temples had colonnades hardly less high, and were of equal or greater area, it has been suggested that the Ephesian temple had some distinct element of grandiosity, no longer known to us - perhaps a lofty sculptured parapet or some imposing form of podium. Bede, in his treatise De sept. inir. mundi, describes a stupendous erection of several storeys; but his other descriptions are so fantastic that no credence can 060 7080go To Ground plan of the 6th Century ("Croesus") Temple at Ephesus, conjecturally restored by A. E. Henderson.

be attached to this. The fifth temple was once more of Ionic order, but the finish and style of its details as attested by existing remains were inferior to those of its predecessor. The great sculptured drums and pedestals, now in the British Museum, belong to the lower part of certain of its columns: but nothing of its frieze or pediments (if it had any) has been recovered. Begun probably before 350 B.C., it was in building when Alexander came to Ephesus in 334 and offered to bear the cost of its completion. It was probably finished by the end of the century; for Pliny the Elder states that its cypress-wood doors had been in existence for 400 years up to his time. It stood intact, except for very partial restorations, till A.D. 262 when it was sacked and burned by the Goths: but it appears to have been to some extent restored afterwards, and its cult no doubt survived till the Edict of Theodosius closed the pagan temples. Its material was then quarried extensively for the construction of the great cathedral of St John Theologos on the neighbouring hill (Ayassoluk), and a large Byzantine building (a church?) came into existence on the central part of its denuded site, but did not last long. Before the Ottoman conquest its remains were already buried under several feet of silt.

The organization of the temple hierarchy, and its customs and privileges, retained throughout an Asiatic character. The priestesses of the goddess were rrap6Evoc (i.e. unwedded), and her priests were compelled to celibacy. The chief among the latter, who bore the Persian name of Megabyzus and the Greek title Neocorus, was doubtless a power in the state as well as a dignitary of religion. His official dress and spadonic appearance are probably revealed to us by a small ivory statuette found by D. G. Hogarth in 1905. Besides these there was a vast throng of dependents who lived by the temple and its services - theologi, who may have expounded sacred legends, hymnodi, who composed hymns in honour of the deity, and others, together with a great crowd of hieroi who performed more menial offices. The making of shrines and images of the goddess occupied many hands. To support this greedy mob offerings flowed in in a constant stream from votaries and from visitors, who contributed sometimes money, sometimes statues and works of art. These latter so accumulated that the temple became a rich museum, among the chief treasures of which were the figures of Amazons sculptured in competition by Pheidias, Polyclitus, Cresilas and Phradmon, and the painting by Apelles of Alexander holding a thunderbolt. The temple was also richly endowed with lands, and possessed the fishery of the Selinusian lakes, with other large revenues. But perhaps the most important of all the privileges possessed by the goddess and her priests was that of asylum. Fugitives from justice or vengeance who reached her precincts were perfectly safe from all pursuit and arrest. The boundaries of the space possessing such virtue were from time to time enlarged. Mithradates extended them to a bowshot from the temple in all directions, and Mark Antony imprudently allowed them to take in part of the city, which part thus became free of all law, and a haunt of thieves and villains. Augustus, while leaving the right of asylum untouched, diminished the space to which the privilege belonged, and built round it a wall, which still surrounds the ruins of the temple at the distance of about a quarter of a mile, bearing an inscription in Greek and Latin, which states that it was erected in the proconsulship of Asinius Gallus, out of the revenues of the temple. The right of asylum, however, had once more to be defended by a deputation sent to the emperor Tiberius. Besides being a place of worship, a museum and a sanctuary, the Ephesian temple was a great bank. Nowhere in Asia could money be more safely bestowed, and both kings and private persons placed their treasures under the guardianship of the goddess.

The City. - After Wood's superficial explorations, the city remained desolate till 1894, when the Austrian Archaeological Institute obtained a concession for excavation and began systematic work. This has continued regularly ever since, but has been carried down no farther than the imperial stratum. The main areas of operation have been: (I) The Great Theatre. The stage buildings, orchestra and lower parts of the cavea have been cleared. In the process considerable additions were made to Wood's find of sculptures in marble and bronze, and of inscriptions, including missing parts of the Vibius Salutaris texts. This theatre has a peculiar interest as the scene of the tumult aroused by the mission of St Paul; but the existing remains represent a reconstruction carried out after his time. (2) The Hellenistic Agora, a huge square, surrounded by porticoes, lying S.W. of the theatre and having fine public halls on the S. It has yielded to the Austrians fine sculpture in marble and bronze and many inscriptions. (3) The Roman Agora, with its large halls, lying N.W. of the theatre. Here were found many inscriptions of Roman date and some statuary. (4) A street running from the S.E. angle of the Hellenic Agora towards the Magnesian gate. This was found to be lined with pedestals of honorific statues and to have on the west side a remarkable building, stated in an inscription to have been a library. The tomb of the founder, T. Julius Celsus, is hard by, and some fine Roman reliefs, which once decorated it, have been sent to Vienna. (5) A street running direct to the port from the theatre. This is of great breadth, and had a Horologion half-way down and fine porticoes and shops. It was known as the Arcadiane after having been restored at a higher level than formerly by the emperor Arcadius (A.D. 395). It leaves on the right the great Thermae of Constantine, of which the Austrians have cleared out the south-east part. This huge pile used to be taken for the Artemision by early visitors to Ephesus. Part of the quays and buildings round the port were exposed, after measures had been taken to drain the upper part of the marsh. (6) The Double Church of the Virgin "Deipara" in the N.W. of the city, wherein the council of 431 was held. Here interesting inscriptions and Byzantine architectural remains were found. Besides these excavated monuments, the Stadion; the enceinte of fortifications erected by Lysimachus, which runs from the tower called the "Prison of St Paul" and right along the crests of the Bulbul (Prion) and Panajir hills; the round monument miscalled the "Tomb of St Luke"; and the Opistholeprian gymnasium near the Magnesian gate, are worthy of attention.

The work done by the Austrians enables a good idea to be obtained of the appearance presented by a great Graeco-Roman city of Asia in the last days of its prosperity. It may be realized better there than anywhere how much architectural splendour was concentrated in the public quarters. But the restriction of the clearance to the upper stratum of deposit has prevented the acquisition of much further knowledge. Both the Hellenistic and, still more, the original Ionian cities remain for the most part unexplored. It should, however, be added that very valuable topographical exploration has been carried out in the environs of Ephesus by members of the Austrian expedition, and that the Ephesian district is now mapped more satisfactorily than any other district of ancient interest in Asia Minor.

The Turkish village of Ayassoluk (the modern representative of Ephesus), more than a mile N.E. of the ancient city, has revived somewhat of recent years owing to the development of its fig gardens by the Aidin railway, which passes through the upper part of the plain. It is noteworthy for a splendid ruined mosque built by the Seljuk, Isa Bey II., of Aidin, in 13 7 5, which contains magnificent columns: for a castle, near which lie remains of the pendentives from the cupola of the great cathedral of St John, now deeply buried in its own ruins: and for an aqueduct, Turkish baths and mosque-tombs. There is a fair inn managed by the Aidin Railway Company.

BIBLIOGRAPHY.-E. Guhl, Ephesiaca (1843); E. Curtius, Ephesos (1874); C. Zimmermann, Ephesos im ersten christlichen Jahrhundert (1874); J. T. Wood, Discoveries at Ephesus (1877); E. L. Hicks, Anc. Greek Inscr. in the Brit. Museum, iii. 2 (1890); B. V. Head, "Coinage of Ephesus" (Numism. Chron., 1880); J. Menadier, Qua condicione Ephesii usi sint, &e. (1880); Sir W. M. Ramsay, Letters to the Seven Churches (1904); O. Benndorf, R. Heberdey, &c., Forschungen in Ephesos, vol. i. (1906) (Austrian Arch. Institute); D. G. Hogarth, Excavations at Ephesus: the Archaic Artemisia (2 vols., 1908), with chapters by C. H. Smith, A. Hamilton Smith, B. V. Head, and A. E. Henderson. (D. G. H.)

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From Ancient Greek Ἔφεσος (Ephesos), Ephesus).

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  1. A city of ancient Anatolia, in what is now Turkey.

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the capital of proconsular Asia, which was the western part of Asia Minor. It was colonized principally from Athens. In the time of the Romans it bore the title of "the first and greatest metropolis of Asia." It was distinguished for the Temple of Diana, who there had her chief shrine; and for its theatre, which was the largest in the world, capable of containing 50,000 spectators. It was, like all ancient theatres, open to the sky. Here were exhibited the fights of wild beasts and of men with beasts. (Comp. 1Cor 4:9; 1Cor 9:24f; 1Cor 15:32.)

Many Jews took up their residence in this city, and here the seeds of the gospel were sown immediately after Pentecost (Acts 2:9; Acts 6:9). At the close of his second missionary journey (about A.D. 51), when Paul was returning from Greece to Syria (Acts 18:18ff), he first visited this city. He remained, however, for only a short time, as he was hastening to keep the feast, probably of Pentecost, at Jerusalem; but he left Aquila and Priscilla behind him to carry on the work of spreading the gospel.

During his third missionary journey Paul reached Ephesus from the "upper coasts" (Acts 19:1), i.e., from the inland parts of Asia Minor, and tarried here for about three years; and so successful and abundant were his labours that "all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks" (Acts 19:10). Probably during this period the seven churches of the Apocalypse were founded, not by Paul's personal labours, but by missionaries whom he may have sent out from Ephesus, and by the influence of converts returning to their homes.

On his return from his journey, Paul touched at Miletus, some 30 miles south of Ephesus (Acts 20:15), and sending for the presbyters of Ephesus to meet him there, he delivered to them that touching farewell charge which is recorded in Acts 20:18ff.

Ephesus is not again mentioned till near the close of Paul's life, when he writes to Timothy exhorting him to "abide still at Ephesus" (1 Tim 1:3).

Two of Paul's companions, Trophimus and Tychicus, were probably natives of Ephesus (Acts 20:4; Acts 21:29; 2 Tim 4:12). In his second epistle to Timothy, Paul speaks of Onesiphorus as having served him in many things at Ephesus (2 Tim 1:18). He also "sent Tychicus to Ephesus" (2 Tim 4:12), probably to attend to the interests of the church there. Ephesus is twice mentioned in the Apocalypse (Rev 1:11; Rev 2:1).

The apostle John, according to tradition, spent many years in Ephesus, where he died and was buried.

A part of the site of this once famous city is now occupied by a small Turkish village, Ayasaluk, which is regarded as a corruption of the two Greek words, hagios theologos; i.e., "the holy divine."

This article needs to be merged with EPHESUS (Jewish Encyclopedia).
This article needs to be merged with Ephesus (Catholic Encyclopedia).
This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Simple English

Ephesus (Ancient greek Ἔφεσος; Turkish Efes) was an ancient roman city on the west coast of Anatolia. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The Apostle Paul is said to have addressed an epistle to the Christians of the city., and it is now known as the Epistle to the Ephesians in the New Testament.


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