Here we are, standing in front of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World!
Did you know the Great Pyramids are the only Ancient Wonder still standing? If you want to visit the other six wonders, you come to places like this and try to imagine what they might have looked like, or you go to a museum and admire the few bits that were “saved” by enterprising archaeologists of the past couple centuries.
The column you see in my pictures is everything that remains of the wonder know as The Temple of Artemis. Originally built around 550 BCE, the temple was burned down three times and rebuilt twice. By the time the Goths sacked it and burned it down in 268 CE, the area’s population had become predominantly Christian, so that the pagan shrine was left in ruins. Most of its stones and columns were taken away to become parts of other local construction projects, including St. John’s Basilica, local farm houses, and even the Hagia Sophia, all the way up in Istanbul.
The column seen standing in the photo is the stacked up bits that archaeologists found during excavations in the late 1800s. The bits don’t properly match, but they are all that remains of the temple in its original location.
Is your imagination failing you? Here we go.
To see the other bits recovered during the excavation, one can visit the Ephesus Museum located in the nearby town of Selçuk. Namely, this beauty:
The statue of “the Great Artemis” is beautifully preserved from sometime in the 3rd century BCE. She’s also fascinating because she is a really unusual mixture of traditional Greek theology (the goddess Artemis, who was a virgin huntress) and local fertility cults (notably that of Cybele). In no other parts of the world did Artemis (Diana, in the Roman pantheon) take on this role.
And now it seems only fair that, having done a tour of the pagan temple, we do a tour of the Christian one that followed on its heels (and was built using an awful lot of its stones).
Legend has it that the Apostle John spent the last years of his life in Ephesus, as did Jesus’ mother Mary, whom he had given into John’s care before he died. Local Christians had constructed a small church in his honor very early, but when Christina emperor Justinian I learned that it was John’s burial place, he had a much bigger, more magnificent church built there.
And then Dustin’s camera ran out of batteries, so we’re a little short on other detailed shots. Anyway, a sixth-century basilica is all well and good, but I wanted to see the really old stuff. Tune in next time for a tour of the actual city of Ephesus.