Roman Agora, Ephesus

Roman Agora, Ephesus


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The Commercial (Lower) Agora of Ephesus was linked to the harbour by the Arcadiane, and stood close to its junction with the Marble Street, just to the south-west of the theatre. With an almost square plan, the Tetragonos Agora - whose ancient name, meaning the Square Market, has been confirmed by the inscriptions - was built for commercial purposes. It had impressive dimensions as its sides were 111 meters long. The Commercial Agora had three main gates, enabling access from the north onto Harbour Street, the south-east, and the west. The most impressive and best-preserved of these gates is the so-called Gate of Mazaeus and Mithridates on the south-eastern side, very close to the Celsus Library.

This trade area was established in Ephesus in the Hellenistic times, in the 3rd century BCE, as evidenced by the western gate fragments in the Ionic order. Its location was carefully selected, close to the harbour, over a spacious area. As the land was not completely flat there, the ground must have been levelled when it was constructed.

However, the place where the agora was created had been in use for a much longer time. Interestingly, the excavations carried out since 1987 on the western side of the Commercial Agora brought to light the evidence of an early settlement, belonging to Archaic Ephesus, now lying six metres below the ground. The archaeologists hypothesize that these could be the traces of the Smyrna quarter of the city, mentioned by Strabo: "[. ] for the Ephesians were fellow-inhabitants of the Smyrnaeans in ancient times, when Ephesus was also called Smyrna. [. ] Smyrna was an Amazon who took possession of Ephesus and hence the name both of the inhabitants and of the city".

The archaeologists revealed five successive building phases, reaching back to the 8th century BCE. These buildings were erected on stone foundations with clay walls, evolving from single-room structures, into large residential houses. They were abandoned by the mid-6th century BCE, possibly because of the rising sea level. In the 6th century BCE, a pottery kiln was erected within these ruined residences. The industrial activities in the western part of the agora continued until the early 4th century BCE. On the opposite, eastern side of the agora, the excavations revealed a graveyard from the period of 6th to 4th centuries BCE.

The Commercial Agora was surrounded by colonnaded porticoes, significantly enhanced during the Roman times. The agora was restructured many times, for the first time in the 1st century BCE, when it got its square shape. The Hellenistic Agora, excavated in 1977, was three meters lower than the current ground level. The archaeologists found a warehouse from the 3rd century BCE in the southwestern corner, a stoa behind it, and the colonnades near the western gate.

The modifications to the plan of the agora were introduced during the reign of Emperor Augustus. By that time, the stoas surrounding the agora had two floors, as indicated by the remains of the staircases discovered in several places. Behind the colonnades, there were around 100 rooms that mainly served as shops but were also used as workshops, warehouses, and meeting places for guild associations. The colonnades surrounding the Agora on four sides were decorated with hundreds of statues of orators, philosophers, athletes, and officials. Only their foundations have been preserved, including the inscriptions that provide valuable information about the social life in Ephesus. The Augustan agora was severely damaged by an earthquake around 23 CE. It was quickly reconstructed and was in operation 20 years later when the statue of Emperor Claudius was sponsored by the Roman merchants.

Not all merchants and artisans who used to work in the Commercial Agora remain anonymous. Possibly the most famous of them is St. Paul who worked there with Priscilla and Aquila in their tentmaking and leatherworking business. Their history is mentioned in the Acts: "There [in Corinth] he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. [. ] and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them." It must have been a lucrative enterprise as the Romans used leather products widely -- from the clothing such as heavy raincoats worn by the soldiers, through harnesses and shields, to footwear. Asia Minor was one of the chief sources of leather for the Romans who needed enormous quantities of this material.

St. Paul also got in trouble there as he criticised the local silversmiths who sold the shrines of Artemis. St. Paul denounced their activity as idolatry and, as a result, was forced to leave the city hastily. The closeness of the Commercial Agora to the harbour may have even been the reason why St. Paul avoided visiting Ephesus on the way to Jerusalem, as described in the Acts 20:16: "Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost."

During the reign of Emperor Nero, a two-storied double Doric basilica, 150 meters long, was added on the eastern side of the Commercial Agora, along the Marble Street. It was originally intended as a justice court. It is now known as the Hall of Nero, because of the inscription that dedicated this building to Artemis, Nero, his mother Agrippina, and the Ephesians. The basilica was later modified, and its front, facing Marble Street, was closed off, leaving only a small entrance on the northern side.

Extensive restorations of the Commercial Agora were carried out in the times of Emperor Caracalla, at the beginning of the 3rd century when new two-aisled stoas were erected. The agora was damaged by an earthquake again, in the late 4th century CE, and then it was repaired during the reign of Emperor Theodosius I. In this restoration, all the main structural elements of the square were repaired, utilizing the architectural pieces collected throughout Ephesus. In the 6th century CE, the northern stoa of the agora was rebuilt as a massive retaining wall, supporting the artificial hill behind it. The agora remained in use until as late as the 7th century CE, keeping its general plan. However, it lost its original function and was used as a space for workshops, such a glass-makers.

So-called horologion, a combination of solar and water clock, stood at the centre of the Agora. In its original sense, an horologion from the Greek word meaning "the hour-teller" was any device for keeping time, such as a sundial or the Tower of the Winds in Athens that was also a combination of sundials and a water clock. In the case of the horologion of Ephesus, it was discovered as the foundations of the building, measuring some 10 to 6 meters. The archaeologists assumed that it belonged to the horologion on the basis of late Hellenistic inscriptions. However, later studies demonstrated that this structure was from a much later period of the 6th century CE.

This text is a fragment of a guidebook to Ephesus: "The Secrets of Ephesus".


Ephesus

Located within what was once the estuary of the River Kaystros, Ephesus comprises successive Hellenistic and Roman settlements founded on new locations, which followed the coastline as it retreated westward. Excavations have revealed grand monuments of the Roman Imperial period including the Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre. Little remains of the famous Temple of Artemis, one of the “Seven Wonders of the World,” which drew pilgrims from all around the Mediterranean. Since the 5 th century, the House of the Virgin Mary, a domed cruciform chapel seven kilometres from Ephesus, became a major place of Christian pilgrimage. The Ancient City of Ephesus is an outstanding example of a Roman port city, with sea channel and harbour basin.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Éphèse

Située dans l’ancien estuaire du Caystre, Ephèse comprend des établissements successifs formés sur de nouveaux sites tandis que la côte se déplaçait vers l’ouest. L’implantation hellénistique et romaine a suivi ce déplacement. Les fouilles ont révélé de grands monuments de la période de l’Empire romain, comme la bibliothèque de Celsus et le grand théâtre. Il ne reste que peu de vestiges du célèbre temple d’Artémis, l’une des « sept merveilles du monde » qui attirait des pèlerins de tout le bassin méditerranéen. A partir du Ve siècle après J.-C., la Maison de la Vierge Marie, une chapelle cruciforme surmontée de coupoles située à sept km d'Ephèse, est devenue un important lieu de pèlerinage chrétien. La cité antique d’Ephèse est un exemple exceptionnel de cité portuaire avec un canal maritime et un bassin portuaire.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Éfeso

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

エフェソス
Efese

Efese bestaat uit opeenvolgende Hellenistische en Romeinse nederzettingen. Het is gelegen aan de voormalige monding van de rivier de Kaistros. De nederzettingen verplaatsten zich naar nieuwe locaties, omdat de kustlijn zich terugtrok in westelijke richting. Opgravingen hebben belangrijke monumenten uit de Romeinse keizertijd aan het licht gebracht, waaronder de bibliotheek van Celsus en het grote theater. Van de beroemde tempel van Artemis resteren slechts brokstukken. Deze tempel, een van de Zeven Wereldwonderen, trok pelgrims uit het hele Middellandse Zeegebied. Vanaf de vijfde eeuw na Chr. trokken veel christelijke pelgrims naar het Huis van de Maagd Maria, een overkoepelde kruisvormige kapel zeven kilometer vanaf Efese. De antieke stad Efese is een uniek voorbeeld van een Romeinse havenstad met een kanaal naar de zee en een binnenhaven.

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Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

Within what was once the estuary of the river Kaystros, a continuous and complex settlement history can be traced in Ephesus beginning from the seventh millennium BCE at Cukurici Mound until the present at Selçuk. Favourably located geographically, it was subject to continuous shifting of the shore line from east to west due to sedimentation, which led to several relocations of the city site and its harbours. The Neolithic settlement of Cukurici Mound marking the southern edge of the former estuary is now well inland, and was abandoned prior to settlement on the Ayasuluk Hill from the Middle Bronze Age. Founded by the 2nd millennium BCE, the sanctuary of the Ephesian Artemis, originally an Anatolian mother goddess, became one of the largest and most powerful sanctuaries of the ancient world. The Ionian cities that grew up in the wake of the Ionian migrations joined in a confederacy under the leadership of Ephesus. In the fourth century BCE, Lysimachos, one of the twelve generals of Alexander the Great, founded the new city of Ephesus, while leaving the old city around the Artemision. When Asia Minor was incorporated into the Roman Empire in 133 BCE, Ephesus was designated as the capital of the new province Asia. Excavations and conservation over the past 150 years have revealed grand monuments of the Roman Imperial period lining the old processional way through the ancient city including the Library of Celsus and terrace houses. Little remains of the famous Temple of Artemis, one of the ‘seven wonders of the world’ which drew pilgrims from all around the Mediterranean until it was eclipsed by Christian pilgrimage to the Church of Mary and the Basilica of St. John in the 5th century CE. Pilgrimage to Ephesus outlasted the city and continues today. The Mosque of Isa Bey and the medieval settlement on Ayasuluk Hill mark the advent of the Selçuk and Ottoman Turks.

Criterion (iii): Ephesus is an exceptional testimony to the cultural traditions of the Hellenistic, Roman Imperial and early Christian periods as reflected in the monuments in the centre of the Ancient City and Ayasuluk. The cultural traditions of the Roman Imperial period are reflected in the outstanding representative buildings of the city centre including the Celsus Library, Hadrian’s Temple, the Serapeion and Terrace House 2, with its wall paintings, mosaics and marble panelling showing the style of living of the upper levels of society at that time.

Criterion (iv): Ephesus as a whole is an outstanding example of a settlement landscape determined by environmental factors over time. The ancient city stands out as a Roman harbour city, with sea channel and harbour basin along the Kaystros River. Earlier and subsequent harbours demonstrate the changing river landscape from the Classical Greek to Medieval periods.

Criterion (vi): Historical accounts and archaeological remains of significant traditional and religious Anatolian cultures beginning with the cult of Cybele/Meter until the modern revival of Christianity are visible and traceable in Ephesus, which played a decisive role in the spread of Christian faith throughout the Roman Empire. The extensive remains of the Basilica of St. John on Ayasuluk Hill and those of the Church of Mary in Ephesus are testament of the city’s importance to Christianity. Two important Councils of the early Church were held at Ephesus in 431 and 449 CE, initiating the veneration of Mary in Christianity, which can be seen as a reflection of the earlier veneration of Artemis and the Anatolian Cybele. Ephesus was also the leading political and intellectual centre, with the second school of philosophy in the Aegean, and Ephesus as a cultural and intellectual centre had great influence on philosophy and medicine.

The serial components contain sites which demonstrate the long settlement history of the place, each making a significant contribution to the overall Outstanding Universal Value. Together the components include all elements necessary to express Outstanding Universal Value and the property is of adequate size to ensure the complete representation of the features and processes which convey the property’s significance.

Authenticity

The component properties retain authenticity in terms of location and setting, form and design. The remains at Cukurici Mound retain authenticity in terms of materials and substance. The other two component properties have all been subject to stone robbing in the past and subsequently to varying degrees of anastylosis, reconstruction and stabilisation using modern materials. Recent interventions have rectified damage caused by earlier inappropriate materials where possible and now make use of reversible techniques.

Protection and management requirements

The property is protected by Decisions of the Izmir Regional Conservation Council as empowered by the National Law for the Conservation of Cultural and Natural Property no. 2863, 23 July 1983, as amended. The Conservation Council has overall responsibility for the urban and archaeological sites within the property and buffer zone that are declared First Degree Archaeological Sites. Some areas within the buffer zone are protected as a Third Degree Archaeological Site and others are protected as an Urban Conservation Area. The legislative protection of the entire buffer zone should be raised to the highest level.

The Supervision and Coordination Council controls the implementation of the management plan for the serial property prepared by Selçuk Municipality with input from the Advisory Council. The Management Plan includes an Action Plan covering conservation, visitor management and risk and crisis preparedness among other activities. It will specifically include the research and conservation programmes for the overall property with provision for findings to be integrated into future management, education and interpretation and the extension of the monitoring system to relate to the inventory/database of the property and provision for impact assessments of all new management planning proposals including visitor management, infrastructure, landscaping, and transport/coach park proposals.


Tetragonos Commercial Agora

With an almost square plan, the Tetragonos Commercial Agora – whose ancient name is confirmed by the inscriptions – was built for commercial purposes. The square, surrounded by colonnaded porticoes, was created in the 3rd century B.C. over a large flat area, but was restructured a number of times, recycling the existing decorative architectural elements, starting from the first Imperial Age and up until the 4th century A.D.

It was entered, from the west side, through a monumental gate, built after 23 A.D. as an access propylaeum, with a double, richly decorated Ionic portico, and two side avant-corps framing a wide staircase.

© Photo credits by Richard Martin under CC-BY-2.0

Two other gates opened onto the northern and southern sides of the square. On the southern side, access was through a triple-entrance gate, similar in structure to the Roman arches of triumph, today completely restored: the Gate of Mazaeus and Mithridates.

Once again we find the donation of public buildings by private persons: the Latin inscription on the attic, in bronze letters, is dedicated in 4 B.C. to the emperor Augustus, the empress Livia, Marcus Agrippa, the emperor’s brotherly friend and son-in-law, and to his daughter Julia, by two of Augustus’s former slaves, Mazaeus and Mithridates.

Do you want to know more about the history of Ephesus and Pergamon?

Check out our guidebook to Ephesus and Pergamon, with detailed history and Past & Present images of their greatest historical and archaeological sites.


Roman Agora, Ephesus - History

Part 1: introduction and history

Ephesus had two agoras (gathering places or market places), the Upper State Agora or Public Agora (Eleuthera Agora) and the Lower Commercial Agora (Tetragonos Agora).

The Upper Agora, in the Upper City, was in the city's administrative precinct, with a group of official buildings such as the council meeting place (the Bouleuterion or Odeion) and law courts.

Like the Lower Agora, it was first built during the Hellenistic period, and completely redesigned during the Roman period. As was usual in Greek and Roman cities, a number of monuments, statues and inscriptions, and practical constructions such as water fountains, were set up around the agora over the centuries.

To the north of the agora were the Upper Gymnasium, the Bouleuterion and the Prytaneion. Between the latter two bulidings stood the "Temenos" (τήμενος, sanctuary), a colonnaded courtyard in which stood an altar or two small temples (see gallery page 10).

The agora square was surrounded by stoas (roofed colonnades) on all four sides. Along the north side, the long, narrow Roman Basilica Stoa replaced a Hellenistic single-aisled stoa.

In the centre of the west side of the square itself was a small peripteral temple, thought to have been dedicated either to Divus Julius and Dea Roma, Augustus or Isis (see below).

On the south side (see next page) was a Hellenistic gate of the 2nd or 1st century BC. On the southwest corner stood the monumental Hydrekdocheion ("Water Palace"), also known as the "Fountain of Gaius Laecanius Bassus".

The foundations and fallen columns of the temple on the Upper Agora square.

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Roman Agora, Ephesus - History

ISBN 978-3-7001-7062-4
Print Edition
ISBN 978-3-7001-7803-3
Online Edition

Forschungen in Ephesos 15/1
2013, 270 Seiten mit 101 Tafeln, 29,7x21cm, broschiert
€ 110,00

Tamás Bezeczky
is Senior Research Fellow at Institut für Kulturgeschichte der Antike der ÖAW

Most of the 621 amphorae discussed in the book come from the Ephesian Tetragonos Agora with lesser amounts from a range of sites both within the town and beyond. The work begins with a brief historical background providing the reader with an idea of the context of the material under study. This is followed by a detailed description and analysis of the archaeological context of each of the eight sites at which material was found, with a particular focus on the stratigraphic context (contribution by Peter Scherrer). Chapter 3, concerning the Ephesus and Cayster Valley Food and Amphora Production, provides evidence (petrology and epigraphy) for the existence of an Ephesian amphora production extending between the Hellenistic and Late Roman periods: since these types are widely distributed they offer a touchstone for characterizing the distribution of Ephesian agricultural products across the Mediterranean. The main body of the book is a type-by-type description of all the seventy amphora types encountered during the study. This part focuses upon form, chronology, contexts at Ephesus, epigraphy (stamps), origins, contents, distribution, fabric (and petrology), and a catalogue of identified pieces. The different types of amphorae present at Ephesus are subdivided into the Late Hellenistic, Early Roman, Mid-Roman and Late Roman periods, providing us for the first time with an idea of the main periods of amphora-based commercial activity at Ephesus, as well as of the relative importance of the different production areas in the commercial life of the city. The book is then rounded off by a discussion of the petrology by Roman Sauer (Chapter 7), and is complemented by appendices on two different classes of stamped amphorae (Appendices I and II) and an extensive bibliography. Gedruckt mit Unterstützung des Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF).

Im vorliegenden Werk werden 621 Amphoren bzw. -fragmente vorgestellt und ausgewertet, die zum Großteil vom Handelsmarkt (Tetragonos Agora) in Ephesos stammen. Darüber hinaus finden aber auch Funde aus der übrigen Stadt sowie ihrer näheren Umgebung Berücksichtigung. Die Publikation beginnt mit einer kurzen Einführung in den geschichtlichen Hintergrund des untersuchten Materials. Auf diese folgen eine genaue Beschreibung der Fundstellen sowie eine detaillierte Analyse unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Stratigraphie (unter Mitwirkung von Peter Scherrer). Ein Kapitel, das sich mit der Amphoren- und Nahrungsmittelproduktion in Ephesos und dem Kaystrostal beschäftigt, untermauert den Nachweis einer lokalen Amphorenproduktion zwischen der hellenistischen und der spätrömischen Periode durch petrographische und epigraphische Studien. Die weite Verbreitung dieser Amphoren erlaubt im Übrigen konkrete Aussagen zum Handel mit landwirtschaftlichen Produkten aus Ephesos im gesamten Mittelmeerraum. Im Zentrum der Untersuchungen stehen aber detaillierte Studien zu den zahlreichen Amphorentypen, wobei besonderes Augenmerk etwa auf die Form, den Inhalt, epigraphische Evidenzen (Stempel) und auch das Material gelegt wird. Ein umfassender Katalog der identifizierten Stücke ist angeschlossen. Durch die chronologische Einordnung der verschiedenen Amphoren (späthellenistische, früh-, mittel- und spätrömische Perioden) gelingt es zudem, erstmals auch ein Bild der kommerziellen Amphorenproduktion in Ephesos sowie der Bedeutung der verschiedenen Produktionsorte im Wirtschaftsleben der Stadt zu zeichnen. Das Werk wird durch petrologische Studien von Roman Sauer vervollständigt und bietet außerdem in zwei Appendizes Vergleiche mit anderen gestempelten Amphoren sowie eine ausführliche Bibliographie.

The Amphorae of Roman Ephesus


ISBN 978-3-7001-7062-4
Print Edition
ISBN 978-3-7001-7803-3
Online Edition

Send or fax to your local bookseller or to:

Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften
Austrian Academy of Sciences Press

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The Amphorae of Roman Ephesus

ISBN 978-3-7001-7062-4
Print Edition
ISBN 978-3-7001-7803-3
Online Edition

Forschungen in Ephesos 15/1
2013, 270 Seiten mit 101 Tafeln, 29,7x21cm, broschiert
€ 110,00

Tamás Bezeczky
is Senior Research Fellow at Institut für Kulturgeschichte der Antike der ÖAW

Most of the 621 amphorae discussed in the book come from the Ephesian Tetragonos Agora with lesser amounts from a range of sites both within the town and beyond. The work begins with a brief historical background providing the reader with an idea of the context of the material under study. This is followed by a detailed description and analysis of the archaeological context of each of the eight sites at which material was found, with a particular focus on the stratigraphic context (contribution by Peter Scherrer). Chapter 3, concerning the Ephesus and Cayster Valley Food and Amphora Production, provides evidence (petrology and epigraphy) for the existence of an Ephesian amphora production extending between the Hellenistic and Late Roman periods: since these types are widely distributed they offer a touchstone for characterizing the distribution of Ephesian agricultural products across the Mediterranean. The main body of the book is a type-by-type description of all the seventy amphora types encountered during the study. This part focuses upon form, chronology, contexts at Ephesus, epigraphy (stamps), origins, contents, distribution, fabric (and petrology), and a catalogue of identified pieces. The different types of amphorae present at Ephesus are subdivided into the Late Hellenistic, Early Roman, Mid-Roman and Late Roman periods, providing us for the first time with an idea of the main periods of amphora-based commercial activity at Ephesus, as well as of the relative importance of the different production areas in the commercial life of the city. The book is then rounded off by a discussion of the petrology by Roman Sauer (Chapter 7), and is complemented by appendices on two different classes of stamped amphorae (Appendices I and II) and an extensive bibliography. Gedruckt mit Unterstützung des Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF).

Im vorliegenden Werk werden 621 Amphoren bzw. -fragmente vorgestellt und ausgewertet, die zum Großteil vom Handelsmarkt (Tetragonos Agora) in Ephesos stammen. Darüber hinaus finden aber auch Funde aus der übrigen Stadt sowie ihrer näheren Umgebung Berücksichtigung. Die Publikation beginnt mit einer kurzen Einführung in den geschichtlichen Hintergrund des untersuchten Materials. Auf diese folgen eine genaue Beschreibung der Fundstellen sowie eine detaillierte Analyse unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Stratigraphie (unter Mitwirkung von Peter Scherrer). Ein Kapitel, das sich mit der Amphoren- und Nahrungsmittelproduktion in Ephesos und dem Kaystrostal beschäftigt, untermauert den Nachweis einer lokalen Amphorenproduktion zwischen der hellenistischen und der spätrömischen Periode durch petrographische und epigraphische Studien. Die weite Verbreitung dieser Amphoren erlaubt im Übrigen konkrete Aussagen zum Handel mit landwirtschaftlichen Produkten aus Ephesos im gesamten Mittelmeerraum. Im Zentrum der Untersuchungen stehen aber detaillierte Studien zu den zahlreichen Amphorentypen, wobei besonderes Augenmerk etwa auf die Form, den Inhalt, epigraphische Evidenzen (Stempel) und auch das Material gelegt wird. Ein umfassender Katalog der identifizierten Stücke ist angeschlossen. Durch die chronologische Einordnung der verschiedenen Amphoren (späthellenistische, früh-, mittel- und spätrömische Perioden) gelingt es zudem, erstmals auch ein Bild der kommerziellen Amphorenproduktion in Ephesos sowie der Bedeutung der verschiedenen Produktionsorte im Wirtschaftsleben der Stadt zu zeichnen. Das Werk wird durch petrologische Studien von Roman Sauer vervollständigt und bietet außerdem in zwei Appendizes Vergleiche mit anderen gestempelten Amphoren sowie eine ausführliche Bibliographie.


Ephesus and the church

Paul saw Ephesus as such a key city that he spent three years there, with the result that ‘all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord’ (Acts 19:10, 26). He established Ephesus as his regional apostolic base, and it became a major centre of the Christian faith. Sadly, it seemed to sit back on its laurels eventually, and the first love and passion of the church had waned by the late first century AD (Revelation 2:1-7).

The Church of the Virgin Mary According to church tradition (confirmed at the Council of Ephesus in AD 431) Mary, the mother of Jesus, spent her later years in Ephesus, under the care of John to whom Jesus had entrusted her (John 19:25-27). The site of this church was the first ever dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Early church tradition links John the Apostle with Ephesus and it is said that he spent his final years here. When he wrote Revelation, he was in exile on Patmos (Revelation 1:9), which was a tiny island some 50 miles south-west of Ephesus, so it is entirely possible. According to other early church traditions, Jesus’ mother Mary also ended up here, having been entrusted to John’s care by Jesus (John 19:25-27).

Ruins of the Basilica of Saint John who spent three years in Ephesus, accompanied by Mary. Tradition says he wrote his gospel here. Excavations show that if the Basilica were reconstructed it would be the seventh largest cathedral in the world.

Several church councils were held here in the first five centuries AD, including the important Council of Ephesus of AD 431. But as the River Cayster silted up, Ephesus ceased to be a port and its importance diminished. Several earthquakes led to the city being gradually abandoned, and its stones were gradually taken away for buildings elsewhere, leaving only the ruins that are there today. It seems Artemis wasn’t so great after all!


Ancient Ephesus city

Ancient Ephesus in Turkey is full of buildings erected mainly during the Roman era. A tour in Ephesus gives people the opportunity to have a view to the daily life of the ancient habitants of the city which had grown to one of the most important centres of the Roman and even the Byzantine Empires. The ancient buildings that have survived nowadays are described below.

The Magnesia Gate had been built to the side of the road that connected Ephesus with Magnesia. It consisted of three openings two of which (the side ones) were used by pedestrians while the middle one was used for horses and chariots.

The Girls&rsquo Gymnasium has been named after the female statues that adorned it during ancestry. The Gymnasium of Ephesus was located near the Magnesia Gate, on Pin Mountain and it was built in the 2nd century AD, by (according to an inscription) Flavius Damianus and his wife Vedia Phaedrina.

A big part of the vaulted segments of the Varius Baths of Ephesus are in a pretty good condition even nowadays. The baths were firstly built during the Hellenistic era and then enlarged during the Roman and the Byzantine Times.

The Odeion of Ancient Ephesus was financed by a wealthy citizen named Vedius Antonius. It has a semi-circular shape, just like a small theatre.

The Prytaneion was an administrative building consisted of a courtyard, on the front side and a large hall to the back. Hestia&rsquos sacred flame had been placed in the middle of the yard, which was guarded by the priests of the goddess, known as Curettes, as the flame should never go out.

The Market Basilica was a 160 m long arcade, to the north of the State Agora. Initially, it consisted of Ionic order columns, dividing the arcade into three naves.

The State Agora was mainly used as a political centre were governmental discussions were carried out. A large number of graves, dating back to the 6th-7th centuries BC, a stone road and an archaic sarcophagus of terracotta were brought to light during excavations to the northeast of the Agora of Ephesus.

This monument was a memorial to Memmius, son of Caius and grandson of the dictator Sulla. It was built in Ephesus during the 1st century AD by Augustus.

Named after the Curetes (the priests who took care of the flame of the Prytaneion of Ephesus), also known as Embolos, it was one of the three main streets of Ephesus. Curetes street connected Gate of Hercules with the Library of Celsus.

It was built in the 1st century (probably 97 AD) by a rich family of ancient Ephesus, that of Offilius Proculus, who wanted to pay honors to Sextillius. Erecting buildings devoted to the Romans was common for the Ephesians in order to be in good relations with the Roman Empire.

Just like the Polio Fountain, the Domitian Temple had been dedicated to a Roman Emperor. Domitian was the first Emperor who allowed Ephesians erecting such monuments to the Romans and it was a great honor for the city of Ephesus.

The Fountain of Trajan was built to the north side of Curetes Street, in the 2nd century AD and it was dedicated to the emperor Trajan. The pool of the fountain had been adorned with statues of Aphrodite, Dionysus, Satyr and the family of the Emperor.

Named after a Christian woman who took over the restoration of the Baths in the fourth century AD, they were initially built in the 1st century. Scolastica Baths were located along Curetes street and they consisted of three levels however two of them have collapsed.

It is one of the most well-preserved and beautiful buildings of ancient Ephesus and it is located along Curetes Street. It was constructed in the beginning of the 2nd century AD and reconstructed in the 4th century by Theodosius in honor to his father (General Theodosius).

The Latrines were the public toilets of the Ephesus city and entrance fees were necessary to use them. Actually, they were a part of Scolastica Baths and they were situated next to the Temple of Hadrian.

These houses were built on the slope of Korressos hill opposite the Temple of Hadrian in Ephesus. They were also known as the houses of the rich people of Ephesus and they consisted of two storeys of rooms surrounding yard.

The Brothel of Ephesus was located at the crossing point of the Marble and Curetes streets. There were two entrances one from each street and the building consisted of two floors.

The Library was built by Gaius Julius Aquila to honor his father Julius Celsus Polemaenus, General Governor of the roman province of Asia, in 135 AD, designed by the architect Vitruoya. It was one of the largest libraries of the ancient world and it could host more than 12,000 scrolls.

It is a colossal Gate built by two slaves in order to pay honors to Augustus and his family because he had set them free. It was used as the south gate of the Commercial Agora.

The Marble Street was the main street of the city, connecting the Magnesian Gate (south) with Korressos Gate (north). The south side of the street led to the Temple of Artemis.

The Market Square, also known as the Agora or Commercial Market, was the commercial centre of the city. It was located along the right side of the Marble Street (directing from the Great Theatre to Celsus Library).

The Great Theatre was built on the foot of Panayir mountain and its façade faced the Harbour street, in the first century AD and later on it was renovated by several Roman Emperors. It is considered to be the most imposing and the most impressive structure of Ephesus city.


What is the significance of Ephesus in the Bible?

Ephesus was the capital city of a Roman province in Asia. Ephesus was a significant center of trade, located near a harbor at the mouth of the Cayster River in western Asia Minor. The city lay in a long, fertile valley. Major roads connected Ephesus to all the other significant cities in Asia Minor.

Ephesus was known for its amphitheater, the largest in the world, designed to hold up to 50,000 spectators. Ephesus was also the location of the great temple of Artemis, or Diana, built in 550 BC. This temple, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was “425 ft. long and 220 ft. wide each of its 127 pillars which supported the roof of its colonnade was 60 ft. high” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia). Much Ephesian industry was related to this temple. Craftsmen sold shrines and household images of the goddess that worshipers could take with them on long journeys. The Ephesians were proud of their religious heritage and its accompanying legends (Acts 19:35).

Ephesus is mentioned often in Scripture. Paul journeyed to Ephesus during his second missionary trip and stayed there for two years so that “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10). Ephesus was a prime site for evangelizing the whole province, due to the city’s accessibility and prominence in the region. It was in Ephesus that Paul and his companions were dragged into the massive amphitheater where for two hours the mob shouted, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians” (Acts 19:23&ndash31). Despite the strong objections to the gospel, many Ephesians came to faith in Christ through the faithful ministry of Paul and his companions. A church began there, and a few years later, Paul wrote to them a letter that we now call the book of Ephesians. Four hundred years later, Ephesus was the site of a major church meeting known as the Council of Ephesus.

Ephesus was the setting for many New Testament events:

&bull God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, such that even handkerchiefs and aprons touched by him healed sickness and cast out demons (Acts 19:11).
&bull Paul wrote the epistle of 1 Corinthians.
&bull The seven sons of Sceva, Jewish exorcists, attempted to imitate Paul’s power and were attacked by demons because the demons did not recognize their spiritual authority (Acts 19:13&ndash16).
&bull Many new believers “who had practiced magic arts brought their books and burned them in front of everyone” (Acts 19:19, BSB). The total value of the sorcery books they destroyed was 50,000 silver pieces.
&bull Priscilla and Aquilla discipled Apollos (Acts 18:24&ndash26).
&bull Timothy had his first pastorate (1 Timothy 1:3).
&bull It’s thought that the apostle John and Jesus’ mother, Mary, lived in Ephesus after Jesus returned to heaven (see John 19:26&ndash27).
&bull Paul may have faced wild beasts in the amphitheater (1 Corinthians 15:32).
&bull Jesus directed to Ephesus one of His seven letters in the book of Revelation (Revelation 2:1&ndash7).

Jesus’ letter to the church at Ephesus contains Jesus’ famous rebuke: “You have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4). The believers at Ephesus, struggling beneath the weight of a godless and immoral culture, had maintained the letter of the law but had lost the Spirit of the law (see Romans 2:29). Jesus commended them for their hard work, perseverance, rejection of false teaching, and hatred of sin. But He was grieved that they had become routine in their service for Him rather than serve Him with the passion they once had. Their actions were there, but their hearts were not.

Jesus’ words to the believers in Ephesus should challenge all servants of the Lord. It is easy to get caught up in the busyness of ministry, church work, or volunteering and not realize our passion for the Lord has cooled. We are no longer propelled into service by love, but by some other selfish or worldly motivation. We may think God doesn’t mind, as long as we are outwardly obeying, but He does mind. It hurts Him, and it violates the greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” (Mark 12:30).

Jesus gave the church at Ephesus time to repent, and He gives us time as well. Every moment we resist His call to humble ourselves and return to our first love is one more moment that we forfeit the love, joy, and peace He offers (1 Peter 5:6 Galatians 5:22&ndash23). Jesus was so concerned about the church at Ephesus that He dictated a letter through the apostle John (Revelation 1:1&ndash2). And He is so concerned about the church of today that He made certain that letter was preserved for us (Revelation 1:3 22:18&ndash19).


Roman Agora, Ephesus - History

Alexander the Great ( link ) became king of Macedon in 336, and almost immediately set out to conquer the Persian Empire. He took Ephesus without a fight. Alexander did not put his portrait directly on the coins he issued, but the young Herakles that does appear on the obverse of his silver coins certainly has features that resemble other portraits of Alexander. He had good relations with Ephesus, and offered to rebuild the Temple of Artemis, which had burnt down on the day of his birth he was politely refused.


The Commercial Agora ( tetragonos agora ) of the city
built by Lysimachus.

During this period Ephesus issued an important series of Rhodian standard tetradrachms in the years between c.405 - 325BCE. The names of the magistrates responsible for the coinage were presented on the reverse ( 11 , 19 ).

Between 319 and 302 BCE Ephesus was ruled by Antigonos Monophthalmos and his son Demetrios Poliorketes. They probably minted at Ephesus, according to E. T. Newell, though neither the name of the city nor its symbol appear on their coins.

In 295 BC Ephesus was finally captured by Lysimachos, a former bodyguard of Alexander the Great, who defeated Antigonus at the Battle of Ipsus. Lysimachos didn't put his own portrait on his coins, however, but that of Alexander ( 42 ). Lysimachos re-founded Ephesus, and renamed it in honor of his second wife Arsinoe ( 20 ) when the Ephesians wouldn't move from around the Temple of Artemis back to Mt. Pion, he stopped up the waterways until they had to move to avoid the floods. Lysimachos also killed his heir, son of his previous wife, apparently for the benefit of Arsinoe. This prompted his former ally Seleucus I to invade, and Lysimachos was killed in 281.

After Lysimachos' death, Ephesus fell into the hands of varying Seleucid and Ptolemaic rulers. In 202 BC it was captured by Antiochus the Great. On his defeated in 190 BC at the battle of Magnesia, the Romans presented Ephesus to Eumenes, the king of Pergamon. During the second century BC Ephesus minted a long series of Attic standard drachms, with the magistrates name on the reverse ( 12 ).

The Attalid rulers initiated an important new coinage around 166 BCE– the cistophoroi (named from the cista mystica – the sacred chest from the cult of Dionysos which was shown on the coins). Ephesus began minting cistophoroi around 138 BCE ( 21 ).

The last Attalid, Attalus III, willed his kingdom to Rome in 133 BCE, and from that point on Ephesus became part of the Roman province of Asia.


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