Ephesus was ruled by the Lydian king, Kreisos, in the mid 6BC. The city reached the “Golden Age” and became a good model to the Antic World in culture and art, as well. As the detailed excavations have not completed yet, apart from the Artemis, the remains of that age haven’t been revealed.
Later, Ephesus was dominated by Persians. As Ephesians did not join the “Ionian Rebellion” against Persians, the city was saved from destruction. The rebellion resulted in the loss of Persian. Alexander the Great won Persians and the Ionian cities got their independence in the year of 334. Ephesus was in great prosperity during the times of Alexander the Great Until the arrival of Alexander the Great, Ephesus was consisted of two governing systems, democratic and oligarchic. But the oligarchic system was violated with the coming of a new ruler, and a rebellion existed in Ephesus.
There were three entrances to Ephesus; The Magnesian Gate (on the road the house of Mother Mary), the Koressos Gate (at the back of the Stadium) and the harbor.
Engineer and architect J.T Wood discovered the Magnesian gate around 1869 during his search for the Temple of Artemis. The original building was possibly erected in the Doric order with a passageway 3.70m wide and an almost square courtyard on the city side.
This building was actually a bath-gymnasium complex, erected in about the 2C AD.
It lay immediately north of the Magnesian Gate. There was a lecture hall (palaestra) at the entrance. During the excavations, the statues of healing god Asclepius, Aphrodite, Dionysus, Hygeia, Pan were found enriching here. They are in Izmir Archaeology Museum today.
There were enormous bathing halls in the centre of the structure, surrounded on three sides by vaulted halls for physical exercise, games and for strolling after the bath.
Early Christian Basilica
A church was built over the Hellenistic city wall to the east of the lecture hall in the late 4th or 5th century.
Then it was converted into a three-aisled basilica with narthex and arcades. Most of the floor surface was covered with decorative mosaics. The church was abandoned after the fire in 7C AD.
St Luke’s Grave
Apostle or Evangelist Luke is the author of the Gospel of Luke, the companion of the Apostle Paul (Phil 1:24, 2 Tim 4:10-11). He was born in Antioch, studied Greek philosophy, medicine, and art in his youth. He came to Jerusalem where he came to believe in Lord Jesus. He and Cleopas met the resurrected Lord on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24).
In addition to his Gospel, St. Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles. Luke was 84 years old when the wicked idolaters tortured him for the sake of Christ and hanged him from an olive tree in the town of Thebes, in Boethia. He was the patron of the medical profession. He was reported to be a fine painter and is also patron of artists, painters, sculptors, craft workers and lacemakers.
His symbol was the bull, the third symbolical beast mentioned by Ezekiel (1:10), which is a symbol of Christ’s sacrificial and priestly office, as pointed out by St. Irenaeus.
In Ephesus, there was a circular structure which was described as the grave of St Luke because of the bull carved into the door.
Bath of Varius Ephesus
The ruins to the east of the Basilica belong to the bath of Varius, dating to the Roman period. The construction dates to the 2nd century A.D and the mosaics in the 40 meters long corridor dates to the 5th century.
It is built of cut blocks of marble. It has three sections, frigidarium (cold water), tepidarium (warm water) and caldarium (hot water). The excavations have not been completed yet.
The agora on the southern part of the Basilica is the State Agora, and was built in the Roman Period in the first century B.C. This agora was used not for commerce but for business, it played an important role as a meeting place for the governmental discussions. During the excavations in the northeast corner of the Agora were found a great number of graves from the 7th-6th centuries B.C and a stone-paved road, and a archaic sarcophagus of terra cotta.
From this it is understood that in the archaic period this part of the Agora was used as the necropolis of Ephesus. There is a water reservoir at the corner of the Agora, which played an important role in Ephesus. Its water was brought to the city through the Pollio Aqueduct, the remains of the Pollio Aqueduct can be seen 5 kilometers away, along the Selçuk-Aydin highway.
The agora is 160×73 meters, with stoas on three sides and a temple in the center, dating from the 1st century A.D The temple was dedicated to Isis, surrounded by ten columns on the long side and 6 on the short side. It was collapsed during the reign of Augustus and was not re-built again, as Emperor Augustus’ dislike of anything Egyptian. On the facade of the Temple, there were group of statues describing the legend of Odysseus and Polyphemos which are now displayed in the Ephesus Museum.
It is a typical Roman Basilica in Ephesus. It is 160 meters long, and located on the northern part of the state agora and has a nave and three-aisles. The Ionic columns in the basilica are adorned with bulls’ head figures dating to the 1st century A.D.
The basilica was used for stock exchange and commercial business. Meetings of the law courts were also held there in the basilica. It has three gates opening onto a stoa leading to the Bath of Varius. The statues of Augustus and his wife Livia were found at the east end, and now they are displayed in Ephesus Museum. So we can understand that the Basilica was rebuilt for the last time during the reign of the Emperor Agustus. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the middle of the Fourth Century AD.
This building has the shape of a small theatre with the stage building, seating places and the orchestra.It had double function in use. First it was used as a Bouleuterion for the meetings of the Boulea or the Senate. The second fuction was the Odeum as a concert hall for the performances.It was constructed in the 2nd century A.D by the order of Publius Vedius Antonius and his wife Flavia paiana, two wealthy citizens in Ephesus.
It had a capacity of 1500 spectators. It had 3 doors opening from the stage to the podium. The podium was narrow and one meter higher than the orchestra section. The stage building was two-storeyed and embellished with columns.The podium in front of the stage building and some parts of the seating were restored. The Odeon used to be enclosed with a wooden roof.
Two councils administrated Ephesus. These were Demos or the parliament which was open to the public was taken place in the great theatre and the Bouleia which gathered in this small theatre. The members of the boulea were chosen from the aristocratic class of Ephesians. The most important decisions and city matters were discussed here.
Domitian Temple gave this area its name. It was the first temple to be built in the name of an emperor (81 – 96A.D.) and located next to the Domitian Square . The Polio Fountain and Memmius Monument stands opposite of each other.
The Polio Fountain was situated on its left side of this temple. Water brought by aqueducts is distributed from this fountain by a branching system of baked clay pipes. Richly decorated sculpture from the Hellenistic period was excavated there. The sculpture depicts Odysseus while he was blinding Polyphemus (cyclops) in order to escape from his cave.
Memmius Monument was a memorial which was dedicated to Memmius, son of Caius and grandson of Sulla.
Behind the basilica is the Prytaneion, where religious ceremonies , official receptions and banquets were held. The sacred flame symbolizing the heart of Ephesus was kept constantly alight in the Prytaneion. The construction of the building dates to the 3rd century B.C, during the reign of Lysimachos, but the ruins of the complex dates to the Augustan age.
The four-cornered pit in which the sacred fire is burned is a relic from the reign of Lysimachos. The front of the building is four columns, beyond the columns is a courtyard surrounded by a portico, and on the north is the center of the building, the ceremonial hall, and its side rooms. The eternal flame was here in the center of the ceremonial hall, the red color on the floor determined the location of the flame. Towards the back, there was a large area with wooden roof, the base of an altar is still recognizable today.
The double columns on the corners of the hall held up the wooden roof. During excavations, archeologists found 2 artemis statues, which are now presented in Ephesus museum.
Temple of Domitian
Located to the south end of the Domitian Street, it is the first structure in Ephesus known to be dedicated to an emperor. It was built on a high and wide terrace set by 50×100 meters in size, on vaulted foundations. The northern size of the terrace seems to be two-stories high, reached by stairs. The stairs are still visible today.
The temple, built in pro-style plan, had eight columns on the short side and thirteen columns on the long side, and four additional columns in front of the cella. At the northern side there was an u-shaped altar, which is now displayed in Izmir museum.
It was in the reign of Domitian that an emperor gave permission to built an Emperor Temple; that is the permission to be the ‘neocoros’ for the first time, which was a great honor for a city.
When the unpopular emperor was killed by his servant, public quickly took vengeance and erased his name from many inscriptions. However in order to not lose its neocoros status , the Ephesians re-dedicated the temple to Vespasian, the father of Domitian.
Fountain of Pollio
The Pollio Fountain was located to the south of the State Agora, across the Odeon. It was built in 97 A.D by the rich Ephesian C.S.Pollio and his family.
The water was brought to the fountains of Ephesus from three main sources through aqueducts and distributed from fountains by a branching system of baked clay pipes. The sources were Kencherios (42km) at Kuşadası, Çamlık village stream of Marnas (15km), and the Cayster River (20km).Water was free of charge by the city in the public fountains. Also they provided refreshment in hot summer days for the streets.
It has a high arch facing the temple of Domitian. It is known to be decorated with a number of statues. One of these statues is the Head of Zeus which is on display in the Ephesus Museum today. Some of these statues were thought to be taken from the Isis Temple, probably after an earthquake, to repair the fountain. The statue group of Odysseus and Polyphemus , that once were on the basin, are now displayed also in Ephesus Museum.
Hercules Gate located towards the end of the Curetes Street, it was called the Hercules gate because of the relief of Hercules on it. It was brought from another place in the fourth century AD to its current place, but the relief on it dates back to the second century AD.
Only the two side of the columns remain today and the other parts of it have not been found. The relief of the flying Nike in the Domitian Square is thought to also be a part of this gate.
The Heracles Gate narrowed the access to the street, preventing the passage of vehicles.We can understand that from the Fourth Century, the street had become a pedestrian area.
In these reliefs Heracles was depicting with the skin of the Nemean lion in myhtology. The Nemean lion had been terrorizing the area around Nemea, and had a skin so thick that it was impossible to kill it. Finally he wrestled the lion to the ground, eventually killing it by thrusting his arm down its throat and choking it to death. Heracles was the god of power and strength.
It is one of the three main streets of Ephesus between The Hercules Gate till to the Celsus Library.This street took its name from the priests who were called as Curetes later.Their names were written in Prytaneion.
There were fountains, monuments, statues and shops on the sides of the street. The shops on the south side were two-storied. Ephesus had many earthquakes, in which many structures including the Curetes Street were damaged. These damages especially on the columns were restored by the new ones, but after the earthquake in the 4th century, the columns were replaced by the other ones brought from different buildings in the city. The differences between the design of the columns can be seen today. The street has its appearance from the 4th century.
There were also many houses on the slope.These were used by the rich of Ephesians.Under the houses there were colonnaded galleries with mosaics on the floor were located in front of the shops with a roof to protect the pedestrians from sun or rain.
Ephesus terrace houses are located on the hill, opposite the Hadrian Temple. Also called as “the houses of rich”, important for the reason give us information about family life during the Roman period. They were built according to the Hippodamian plan of the city in which roads transected each other at right angels.
There are six residential units on three terraces at the lower end of the slope of the Bulbul Mountain. The oldest building dates back into the 1C BC and continued in use as residence until the 7C AD.
Ephesus terrace houses are covered with protective roofing which resembles Roman houses. The mosaics on the floor and the frescos have been consolidated and two houses have been opened to the public as a museum.
They had interior courtyards (peristyle) in the center, with the ceiling open. They were mostly two-storied, upper stores have collapsed during time. On the ground floor there were living and dining rooms opening to the hall, and upstairs there were bedrooms and guest rooms.
The heating system of the terrace houses were the same as that in baths. Clay pipes beneath the floors and behind the walls carried hot air through the houses. The houses also had cold and hot water. The rooms had no window, only illuminated with light coming from the open hall, so that most of the rooms were dim. The excavations of the terrace houses started in 1960. The restoration of the two of the houses have been finished and can be visited today.
Scholastica Baths was built in the First Century and restored in the Fourth Century by a rich Christian lady called Scholastica. On the left of the eastern entrance, you can see her statue without head.
The original structure was thought to have been three-storied but by the time the upper two stories collapsed. The baths have two entrances, one from the Curetes Street, which is the main entrance, and the other from the side street. When you enter you see first the dressing room (apodyterium) with ten cabins,then cold room (frigidarium) with its pool,and then the warm room (tepidarium) to relax, and finally the hot room (caldarium) with its developed heating system.The second floor was used for massage and scrubbe as a therapy.
It was used not only to bathe but also to socialize and discuss the topics of the day.The importance of discussing in the bath is well-known and effective developing of Roman philosophy.
The custom of Roman baths was continued during the Byzantine era and with the arriving of the Turks reached its heyday. During the times of the Ottomans, it won another dimension.It is recommend you to visit one of the traditional Turkish Bath to feel this culture.
Temple of Hadrian
Temple of Hadrian is one of the best preserved and most beautiful structures on Curetes Street. It was built before 138 A.D by P. Quintilius and was dedicated to the Emperor Hadrian, who came to visit the city from Athens in 128 A.D The facade of the temple has four Corinthian columns supporting a curved arch, in the middle of which contains a relief of Tyche, goddess of victory. The side columns are square. The pedestal with inscriptions in front of the temple, are the bases for the statues of the emperors between 293-305 CE, Diocletian, Maximian, Constantius I, and Galerius; the originals of the statues have not been found yet.
Inside the Hadrian Temple above the door, a human figure, probably Medusa stands with ornaments of acanthus leaves. On both sides there are friezes depicting the story of the foundation of Ephesus – Androklos shooting a boar, Dionysus in ceremonial procession and the Amazons. The fourth frieze portrays two male figures, one of which is Apollo; Athena, goddess of the moon; a female figure, Androkles, Herakles, the wife and son of Theodosius and the goddess Athena. The friezes that are seen today are copies, and the originals are displayed in Ephesus Museum.
Emperor Hadrian was one of the Five of Good Emperors. The Five Good Emperors is a term that refers to five consecutive emperors of the Roman Empire— Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. The term is first coined by the political philosopher, Niccolò Machiavelli in 1532. Publius Aelius Hadrianus was born on 24 January AD 76, probably at Rome, though his family lived in Italica in Baetica. Emporor Trajan was his cousin. Hadrian was schooled in various subjects particular to young aristocrats of the day, and was so fond of learning Greek literature that he was nicknamed Graeculus (“Little Greek”).Hadrian was active in the wars against the Dacians and reputedly won awards from Trajan for his successes. Due to an absence of military action in his reign, Hadrian’s military skill is not well attested, however his keen interest and knowledge of the army and his demonstrated skill of administration show possible strategic talent.
Hadrian appears to have been a man of mixed sexual interests. The Historia Augusta criticizes both his liking of goodlooking young men as well as his adulteries with married women.It is belived that he tried to poison his wife. When it comes to Hadrian’s homosexuality, then the accounts remain vague and unclear. Most of the attention centres on the young Antinous, whom Hadrian grew very fond of. Statues of Antinous have survived, showing that imperial patronage of this youth extended to having sculptures made of him. In AD 130 Antinous accompanied Hadrian to Egypt. It was on a trip on the Nile when Antinous met with an early and somewhat mysterious death. Officially, he fell from the boat and drowned.
Hadrian died in 138 on the tenth day of July, in his villa at Baiae at age 62. However, the man who had spent so much of his life traveling had not yet reached his journey’s end. He was buried first at Puteoli, near Baiae, on an estate which had once belonged to Cicero. Soon after, his remains were transferred to Rome and buried in the Gardens of Domitia, close by the almost-complete mausoleum. Upon the completion of the Tomb of Hadrian in Rome in 139 by his successor Antoninus Pius, his body was cremated, and his ashes were placed there together with those of his wife Vibia Sabina and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138. Antoninus also had him deified in 139 and given a temple on the Campus Martius.
Octagon was a vaulted burial chamber placed on a rectangular base with the skeleton of a 15 or 16 year old woman in a marble sarcophagus. According to an interpretation Octagon was a monument to Ptolemy Arsinoe IV, the youngest sister of the famous Cleopatra VII,was murdered in Ephesus in 41 BC.
Arsinoe IV (ca. 68/67 – 41 BC) was the fourth daughter of Ptolemy XII Auletes, sister of Ptolemy XIII and Cleopatra VII, and one of the last rulers of the Ptolemaic dynasty of ancient Egypt. When their father died, he left Ptolemy and Cleopatra as joint rulers of Egypt, but Ptolemy soon dethroned Cleopatra and forced her to flee Alexandria.
When Julius Caesar arrived in Alexandria in 48 BC and sided with Cleopatra’s faction, Arsinoe escaped from the capital with her mentor Ganymedes and joined the Egyptian army under Achillas, assuming the title of pharaoh. When Achillas and Ganymedes clashed, Arsinoe had Achillas executed and placed Ganymedes in command of the army. Ganymedes initially enjoyed some success against the Romans, negotiating an exchange of Arsinoe for Ptolemy, but the Romans soon received reinforcements and inflicted a decisive defeat on the Egyptians.
Arsinoe was transported to Rome, where she was forced to appear in Caesar’s triumph. Despite usual traditions of prisoners in triumphs being strangled when the festivities were at an end, Caesar spared Arsinoe and granted her sanctuary at Ephesus. Arsinoe lived in the temple for many years, always keeping a watchful eye for her sister Cleopatra, who saw her as a threat to her power. Her fears proved well-founded; in 41 BC, at Cleopatra’s instigation, Mark Antony ordered her executed on the steps of the temple. She was given an honorable funeral and a modest tomb.
Celsus Library is one of the most beautiful structures in Ephesus. Celcius Library was built in 117 A.D. Celsus Library was a monumental tomb for Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the governor of the province of Asia; from his son Galius Julius Aquila. The grave of Celsus was beneath the ground floor, across the entrance and there was a statue of Athena over it. Because Athena was the goddess of the wisdom.
The scrolls of the manuscripts were kept in cupboards in niches on the walls. There were double walls behind the bookcases to prevent the them from the extremes of temperature and humidity. The capacity of the library was more than 12,000 scrolls. It was the third richest library in ancient times after the Alexandra and Pergamum.
The facade of the library has two-stories, with Corinthian style columns on the ground floor and three entrances to the building. There is three windows openings in the upper story. They used an optical trick that the columns at the sides of the facade are shorter than those at the center, giving the illusion of the building being greater in size.
The statues in the niches of the columns today are the copies of the originals. The statues symbolize wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), intelligence (Ennoia) and valor (Arete). These are the virtues of Celsus. The library was restored with the aid of the Austrian Archaeological Institute and the originals of the statues were taken to Ephesus Museum in Vienna in 1910.
There was an auditorium ,which was for lectures or presentations between the library and the Ephesus Marble Road, was built during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian.
Gate of Mazeus
The Gate of Mazeus with three passage ways at the right of the Celsus Library was built in 40 A.D by the slaves Mazeus and Mythridates for their emperor, Augustus, who gave them their freedom.
The passages are vaulted, the front side of the vault facing the Celsus Library is made of black marble, while the other side is white. A Latin inscription with inlaid letters made of bronze is still visible on one side of the structure. Part of the inscription states: “From the Emperor Caesar Augustus, the son of the god, the greatest of the priests, who was consul twelve and tribune twenty times; and the wife of August Livia; the son of Lucus, Marc Agrippa who was consul three times, Emperor, and tribune six times; and the daughter of Julio Caesar Augustus, Mazeus and Mythridates to their master and the people.”
The small area in front of the gate was used as an auditorium. The steps around the gate, in front of the library and the round pedestal were used as seats. In Byzantine Period, the walls in the small area were built when the city walls were reduced in length.
Being the most important trade center of Ephesus, Agora was built in the third century B.C in the Hellenistic Period, but the ruins date from the reign of Caracalla (211-217 C.E)
It is in the form of a square, each side 110 meters, and surrounded completely by columns. The Agora has 3 gates, one from the front of the theatre on the northeast, the other one opening to the harbor on the west and the third one from the Celsius Library. The north side of the Agora is left open, and the other three sides are surrounded by a portico, in which there are rows of shops. At the center of the Agora was a sundial and a water-clock
Ephesus Marble Road is the road starting form the great theatre to the Celsus Library, which is the portion of the sacred way that leads past Panayir dagi to the Temple of Artemis. The construction of the marble road dates to the 1st century A.D, and it was rebuilt in the 5th century. The western side of the road is enclosed by the agora wall, and on the wall is a higher platform, which was constructed during the reign of Nero. It was built over the wall, for pedestrians.
On the marble road, there are some drawings believed to be an advertisement of the Brothel. This advertisement is known as the first advertisement in history. There is a footprint on the advertisement, one finger showing the library, and other showing the brothel. The known explanation of this sign is that the footprint shows that one should turn at that point; the woman’s head symbolizes the women waiting in the Brothel and the heart shows that the women are eager for love. The busts and statues of the important people were erected along the road, and the letters from emperors were carved into the marble blocks to let people read.
Ephesus theatre is the most magnificent structure in Ephesus ancient city. The Ephesus Great Theatre is located on the slope of Panayir Hill, opposite the Harbor Street, and easily seen when entering from the south entrance to Ephesus. It was first constructed in the Hellenistic Period, in the third century BC during the reign of Lysimachos, but then during the Roman Period, it was enlarged and formed its current style that is seen today.
It is the largest in Anatolia and has the capacity of 25,000 seats. The cavea has sixty six rows of seats, divided by two diazoma (walkway between seats) into three horizontal sections. There are three sections of seats. In the lower section, Marble pieces, used for restoration, and the Emperor’s Box were found. The seats with backs ,made of marble, were reserved for important people. The audience entered from the upper cavea.
The stage building is three-storied and 18 meters high. The facade facing the audience was ornamented with relieves, columns with niches, windows and statues. There are five doors opening to the orchestra area, the middle one of which is wider than the rest. This enhanced the appearance of the stage, giving it a bigger, monumental look.
The Ephesus theatre was used not only for concerts and plays, but also for religious, political and philosophical discussions and for gladiator and animal fights.
The building is situated at the eastern end of the Arcadian Street. It is one of the Ephesian bath-gymnasium building. The form of its palaestra (place of exercise) with a tribune shows that it had a specific function. The bathing section has been partially excavated and so inaccessible.
There were lobbies, warm bathing pools, frigidarium, recreation rooms and halls for training.
The Ephesus Stadium was located to the south of the Vedius Gymnasium. The spectators’ seats on the south was resting on the slopes of the Mount Pion (Panayir dag). The seats on the northern section were placed on the heightened vaulted galleries. There was a monumental entrance gate to the Stadium on the west. Its last shape was mainly given and enlarged during the Roman Emperor Neron’s reign in the 1st century A.D. As all Roman stadiums from the classical era, it was planned in a U-shape then.
But none of the pieces of seating tiers were kept. They were used the restorations of the other buildings in Ephesus and also in the construction of the Basilica of St. John.
It was first built in the Hellenistic Age. It was purely used for ceremonies and sports activities. But during the 3rd and 4th centuries other than the sports activities and ceremonies, gladiator and wild animal fights became very popular especially in Roman Period. It is known that certain families, such as the Vedius, owned gladiator schools. Also Christians were persecuted here and were thrown to the lions. So when Christianity became the official religion of Romans in 413 AD. they destroyed it and built the Persecution Gate also as a symbol of these sufferings.
Vedius Gymnasium is easily seen when entering the Ephesus city from the south entrance. The construction of the gymnasium dates around the second century AD, funded by Publius Vedius Antoninus and his wife Flavia Papiana. They dedicated the gymnasium to Goddess Artemis and to Emperor Antoninus Pius. In Ephesus, gymnasiums were the schools for young people in which one could take lessons for art, sports, literature, drama and speech. The most important and beautiful of these gymnasiums was the Gymnasium of Vedius. The entrance of the gymnasium is on the east, and when entering there is a palaestra (courtyard), surrounded by columns. The hall of emperors is also on the east, with statues and floors covered with mosaics.
The gymnasium included a bath, with a tepidarium, a caldarium, and a frigidarium. There was a pool at the frigidarium, with the statue of the god of the River Kaistros in the north end, pouring water into the pool from the amphora that the god was leaning on. Today, the statute is displayed in Izmir Museum.