|Start Slide Show|
The area surrounding Ephesus was already inhabited during the Neolithic Age, about 6000 BC. 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 BC) was discovered close to the ruins of the basilica of St. John. This was the period of the Mycenaean Expansion when the Achaioi settled in Ahhiyawa during the 14th and 13th centuries BC. Scholars believe that Ephesus was founded on the settlement of Apasa (or Abasa), a Bronze Age-city noted in 14th century BC Hittite sources as in the land of Ahhiyawa. The city of Ephesus itself was founded as an Attic-Ionian colony in the 10th century BC on the Ayasuluk Hill, three kilometers from the center of antique Ephesus. 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. 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. 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. Pausanius mentions that the temple was built by Ephesus, son of the river god Caystrus, before the arrival of the Ionians. Of this structure, scarcely a trace remains. About 650 BC, 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. About 560 BC 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. Croesus made the populations of the different settlements around Ephesus regroup 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. They were defeated by the Persian army commander Harpagos in 547 BC. 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 remained the same. 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 BC), an event which instigated the Greco-Persian wars. In 479 BC, the Ionians, together with Athens and Sparta, were able to oust the Persians from Anatolia. In 478 BC, 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. 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. In 356 BC the temple of Artemis was burned down, according to legend, by a lunatic called Herostratus. The inhabitants of Ephesus at once set about restoring the temple and even planned a larger and grander one than the original. When Alexander the Great defeated the Persian forces at the Battle of Granicus in 334 BC, 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 BC, Ephesus in 290 BC 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. After Lysimachus had destroyed the nearby cities of Lebedos and Colophon in 292 BC, 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 BC. 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 BC. 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 BC. As a result, Ephesus came under the rule of the Attalid king of Pergamon Eumenes II (197-133 BC). When his grandson Attalus III died without male children of his own, he left his kingdom to the Roman Republic. 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 BC 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 BC. 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. When Augustus became emperor in 27 BC, 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. 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. The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (Diana), 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. 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. 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. Emperor Flavius Arcadius raised the level of the street between the theatre and the harbor. The town was 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. (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, it was a small village. The Byzantines resumed control in 1100. 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. 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 harbor of Ayasuluğ (the present-day Selçuk, next to Ephesus). Ayasoluk became an important harbor, from where the navy organized 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. Nearby Ayasuluğ was renamed Selçuk in 1914.
Identifier: 116, Last Accessed: 2017-07-25 11:18:03
Copyright: © A. O. Newberry & Co. 2007-2017
All rights reserved.
Last Modified: Fri Jul 29 2016 09:10:20.