Ephesus, Turkey

Ephesus (/ˈɛfəsəs/;Greek: Ἔφεσος Ephesos; Turkish: Efes; ) was an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia, three kilometres southwest of present-day Selçuk in İzmir Province, Turkey. It was built in the 10th century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. During the Classical Greek era it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC

The city of Ephesus was founded, according to Eusebius, in 1045 BC by Athenian and other Ionian colonists at the outfalls of the river Caystrus, close to two low elevations, the mount Preon or Lepre Akte and the mount Pion. The development of the city was fast and was related to the cult of Artemis, which in its local Ephesian version incorporated elements from the cult of Cybele. However, the real cause of its development, which culminates for the first time in the 6th century BC, was its financial strength. This strength was mainly based on the key commercial role of the city, since it connected the Aegean world with the Asia Minor inland area and consequently with the Orient in general.
During the Archaic Period philosophy and poetry flourish in the city, with artists like Heraclitus, Callinus and Hipponax. In the Classical Period Ephesus is an important art centre with painters like Zeuxis and Parhassius, while it attracts the most important sculptors of the Greek world, such as Polyclitus, Cresilas and Praxiteles. And if the fact that Alexander the Great passed from Ephesus proved to be the main reason for the Ephesians to declare their independence and their economic prowess, Lysimachus was the one who defined the city's character in the Hellenistic Period, with the large fortification works, the settlement and the city-planning expansion of the city.
At this period the city started to distinguish itself throughout the Mediterranean and could be compared only with Alexandria and Antioch. In the Roman Period the city's size increased extremely and became the second largest city in the empire after Rome. It was the favourite city of many emperors, as testified by the favorite treatment it received and the intensive building activity. Ephesus, an important centre of letters and sciences, is also the homeland of the doctors Soranus and Rufus. The city was one of the first centres of Christianity and one of the Seven Churches of Asia according to the Apocalypse. An indication of this special importance of the city to Christianity and to the cult of Virgin that replaced the one of Artemis, was the fact that the Third Ecumenical Council convened there.
Gradually Caystrus, through illuviation, blocked the city's harbor, depriving it of its most vital economic function and condemning it to decline. Later, when the Arabs arrived and afterwards the Seljuk Turks.

Ancient Ephesus was once a thriving port city but silting of the harbour from the deposits carried by the Cayster River caused the port to progressively move seaward. The retreating harbour presently six miles from the city ruins, meant that shipping was no longer tenable and as trade ships preferred Smyrna, so too did the Ephesians move out and eventually the magnificent city was fully abandoned.The first settlements of Ephesus were made by the Ionians in the 11th century BC, when Androcles (from Athens), established a coastal town which was located 1.5 kilometers away from Artemis’s Temple. According to legend, he had been advised to establish a city at the place which would be shown to him by a fish and a boar. During Androcles’s reign, Ephesus became a member of the Ionian League and his descendants ruled the city for a long period. As years passed, Ephesus grew to a prosperous city and it was turned to a trade and banking centre thus ruled by rich merchants. This attracted the interest of the king of Lydia, Kroisos, with whom Ephesus had already commercial relations. Lydians conquered Ephesus and made the habitants to the inland close to the Temple of Artemis. The Lydians ruled Ephesus until the Persian Wars when the Persians took it over. However, Alexander the Great set the city free in 334 BC and after his death it was ruled by Lysimachus, a descendant of Alexander the Great.As the city was located by the river Kaystros (nowadays known as Kucuk Menderes river) which cut off the outlet to the sea with alluvial sand, it created a marshy earth which in turn created an unhealthy environment for the population of Ephesus. Lysimachus decided to transfer the city to the valley situated between the mountains Koressos and Pion (nowadays known as Bulbul and Payir). He also fortified the city with a wall 9 km long. He named the new city after his wife, Arsinoe. The city grew again in a rich trade centre and several public buildings such as stadiums, gymnasiums, theatres etc were erected in it.
After Lysimachus’s death, the city was ruled by the Egyptians and the Syrians and it was conquered by the Romans in 190 BC. Ephesus was ruled by the Romans indirectly, through Pergamum and started blooming during the Augustan Empire era. It became the capital of the Asian province of the Roman Empire and it grew to the most important trading centre of Minor Asia, inhabited by 250,000 people. Most of the monuments, that have survived nowadays, date pack to the prosperous period.
The Goths invaded the city in 263 Ad and they destroyed both the city and the temple of Artemis. Ephesus declined since then and even though it was rebuilt, it never regained its old splendor.
During the Byzantine era, Ephesus was a very important city (5th-6th centuries AD). A big part of the city was rebuilt by Constantine I. In 614 AD the city was destroyed again due to an earthquake. Continuously, the harbor of the city turned to a marshy are once preventing the inhabitants from accessing the sea and carry on their trading activities. The harbor decline and the Arabic invasions made the population to move towards a hill where they would be protected. As they had no more a connection with the sea, the city declined and it was turned to a small village, occupied by the Turks in 1390.
Finally, the city was abandoned during the 15th century as there was no possibility to regain its past flourishing.
Temple of Artemis
The temple of Artemis is known as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. It has been built in the areas of Ephesus on a flat area which has over the centuries turned into a swamp. If you visit Ephesus today, you can only see the ruins of the foundations of this marvelous construction of the Hellenistic Age, entirely made of marble and full of sculptured columns' capitals and shafts. The most beautiful remaining of this temple are today exhibited in the London British Museum. The oldest remaining found date back till the 6th century BC.
 The new Artemis has been rebuilt in the 2nd century BC. Located on top of the previous one, it had tremendous dimensions: 127 columns of each 17,5 meters high. Unfortunately this one has also been destroyed by fire, reconstructed and again demolished by earthquakes, rebuilt and at last looted by Goths one year later.
The statue of many-breasted Artemis was the symbol of the temple but also of abundance, hunting and wild life. The genuine statue of Artemis, removed during the fire, is today exhibited in the Selcuk Museum. Many copies of this statue found during the latest excavations date back from the Roman period.

The Commercial Agora ( tetragonos agora ) of the city
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). It consisted of three large gates, one to the north, one to the west and one to the south.

The southern gate of the Agora was that of Mazeus and Mithridates which led to the Library of Celsus. There was a two-storey Doric style stoa with columns to the eastern side of the Agora and a row of shops behind it, where food and other manufactured goods were sold.  A water clock and a sundial had been placed in the middle of the square structure which was surrounded by colonnades along all the four sides of it. Moreover, a portico had been constructed along the east, the west and the south side of the Agora which contained two rows of shops.

The Agora was built by Lysimachus yet a lot of changes were made to it during the reign of Augustus.