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Temple of Artemis in Ephesus

The history of the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus is full of majestic and tragic events. The appearance of the building can only be judged by reconstruction based on the foundations and a few small fragments. But even that was enough to discover many interesting facts about one of the 7 wonders of the world.

The territory of ancient Greece almost coincides with the borders of the modern state, but some parts have now receded to other countries. This is what happened to Ephesus; now it belongs to Turkey. The ancient city was founded on the shores of the Aegean Sea, it was gradually shallowing, taking with it its former glory and prosperity. But at the height of the city’s prosperity, they erected a temple, the equal of which in size and beauty no one had ever seen. Later archeological excavations, during which numerous ruins of ancient buildings were discovered, brought world fame. Scientists identified the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus from the only surviving column.

The Great Temple of the Ancient World

Artemis was worshipped as the patroness of hunting, animals, family relationships, and fertility. Pregnant women and women in childbirth pleaded with her for help. It is symbolic that the site for the temple was chosen not far from the ancient sanctuary dedicated to the Carian goddess of fertility.

The first buildings were of wood. They were constantly destroyed by earthquakes, burned by fires, and rendered unusable by the humid climate and wood pests. After numerous attempts to preserve the building, it was decided to erect a large, luminous temple for the revered goddess.

History of the Temple of Artemis

The most famous craftsmen of the time were engaged in the construction. The architect Hersiphron was invited to the city from Knossos. He created the project that began construction of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, which later became the wonder of the world.

The construction of one of the most majestic temples took a long time and, of course, one human life was not enough. The next to go on to build the temple of Artemis at Ephesus was the architect’s son Metagenes, followed by the architects Demetrius and Peonite.

The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus - the wonder of the world

It was not possible to fully recreate the look of the temple, the interior decoration can only be judged by the remaining descriptions and it is no longer possible to determine whether it is fact or fiction. It is known that the base was 105 m long and 51 m wide. The number of columns supporting the vault reached 127, the height of each was 18 m. The entrance was accessed by wide steps, the portico was decorated with intricately carved bas-reliefs. The central part was surrounded by a double row of columns with carved capitals.

The main material was marble, which was also used to cover some of the interior rooms. The ceilings and part of the decorative elements were made of wood. The central point of the temple was a pedestal with a statue of the goddess 15 meters high, inlaid with precious stones and gold plates.

The statue of amazing beauty was another reason why the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus is ranked among the Seven Wonders of the World.

The construction and decoration was the work of outstanding masters of antiquity:

  • relief of the columns – Scopus;
  • The decoration of the altar part is Praxiteles;
  • paintings and frescoes – Apelles.

Each of them put a piece of their soul into their creation, so the temple was not just a wonder of the world – it was admired by everyone who happened to visit it or even look at the majestic building from a distance. The temple of Artemis of Ephesus became a worthy place for the veneration of the goddess.

It took a long time to find a place to build. Residents and craftsmen learned from the bitter experience of the collapse of previous structures, approached the issue creatively. It was taken as an axiom that in and around the city there are regular strong soil fluctuations. So they should be extinguished. Through calculations, it was concluded that swampy terrain is less susceptible to sudden shocks. This is how the ruins of an ancient temple were found, on the site of which they began digging a pit.

In order to create a solid foundation that dampens vibrations, the pit was filled with coal and wool, laying them in layers. In the process of construction there were many difficult situations, but they were successfully resolved thanks to the ingenuity of the builders.

Interesting facts about the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus

Many people participated in the construction, some helped financially, others contributed their skills, and others suggested new technical solutions. Together they erected a unique building for those times, which gradually became the center of political and cultural life of the city.

The priests gave immunity on the temple grounds, provided one came unarmed.

Temple of Artemis in Ephesus - interesting facts

There are several legends surrounding the construction of the building. Given the Greeks’ predilection for all kinds of mystical events, this is not surprising.

  1. It is believed that the marble in the vicinity was found with the help of rams. Two males got into a fight and one tapped his horns on the rock, revealing a marble chip. The problem of material for building and cladding was solved.
  2. It took a long time to solve the problem of transporting the columns. Their size and weight pressed the wagons deeply into the sandy surface. They were lined with wood, with bars hammered into the ends. Then the oxen dragged the columns to the foot of the building.
  3. Otherwise it is difficult to explain the phenomenon of the installation of the columns in a perfectly vertical position, as well as the laying of the threshold stone beam, except by the intervention of Artemis.
  4. The horizontal slabs, the architraves, had to be laid so as not to damage the capitals of the columns. Again took an unconventional approach, first laying some on foot. The architraves pressed the sand with their weight, it gradually fell out, and the slabs gently fell into place.
  5. In addition to the statue of the goddess, the interior contained a unique painting depicting Alexander the Great in the image of Zeus with a sword – lightning in his hand. And the skill of the artist was such that it seemed as if the tip went beyond the picture, and the eyes of the hero followed the movement of the visitors.
  6. It is recorded in the historical chronicles that Croesus donated a considerable amount of money for the construction.

Destroying the Temple – In Pursuit of Glory

You can assert yourself in many ways. Some paint brilliant paintings and create sculptures. And others go the way of destruction. Such was the case with the Temple of Artemis of Ephesus. Its grandeur and luxury attracted the attention of Herostratus. Having no other talents, he set fire to the building in order to become famous in the ages as the greatest destroyer. The interior rooms burned completely because there were a lot of wooden elements. The columns and vaults are blackened and sooty. It turned out that the building has stood for about 200 years. Built in 550 BC in 356 it was destroyed for the first time.

The perpetrator did not hide, but proudly proclaimed his act, explaining that in this way he wanted to leave a memory of himself in history. The residents were so enraged by the vandalism that they decided to permanently erase his name from the lists and never remember him. Herostratus was brought up again because of the writings of the historian Theopompus, where he mentioned who burned the temple of Artemis in Ephesus. History has preserved the name of Herostratus, but not as a hero, but as the greatest fool who destroyed one of the wonders of the world.

Temple of Artemis in Ephesus - Turkey

The temple, like a phoenix, was reborn in even greater splendor. The deteriorated marble slabs were removed and replaced by others, and the interior rooms were filled with works of art, statues, and precious vases donated by noble visitors from neighboring countries. The citizens and guests of Ephesus once again came to the foot of the hill.

In 3 Stat. B.C. The reconstruction was completed, financed by Alexander the Great. The grateful citizens of the city expressed their gratitude by commissioning Apelles to paint a portrait of the great general and placing it in the central area near the statue of the goddess.

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus surpasses the Parthenon in size, and in the number of engineering designs and the richness of the interior is deservedly on a par with other wonders of the ancient world. Unfortunately, it was destroyed again and shared the fate of the Colossus of Rhodes and the Hanging Gardens of Semiramis, leaving only its memory.

Where is the Temple of Artemis and how to get there?

The supposed view of the temple can only be seen in the picture, the location of the temple also remained a mystery. The outlines of the coastal zone and the boundaries of the countries have long changed, and one can wander endlessly in search of the ancient indications. It was an accident that helped discover the ruins of the building. In 1869 the English archaeologist Wood, after analyzing the annals, found approximate indications about the place of Ephesus. Knowing in which city the temple of Artemis was located, it was not difficult to outline the terms of the search, and a year later a large expedition went there. Their prey were several small fragments.

In the 20th century it was possible to excavate the foundations, restore part of the column and discover among the later elements the remains of the first structure burned by Herostratus.

Temple of Artemis in Ephesus - Turkey

To visit the place where the temple of Artemis of Ephesus stood, you have to get to the settlement of Selcuk and get out on the road to Kudashasi, a little further is the lower entrance to the ancient city.

It takes 15-20 minutes to see the site, as only the column and the colorful story are left of the glittering temple, which is like a fairy tale. But the flow of tourists does not dry up, all want if not to touch the miracle, then at least to visit the place where it existed.

Location on the map

Temple of Artemis in Ephesus on the map of Turkey

If we focus on modern geography, the temple of Artemis is in Turkey, Ephesus would now belong to this country and was near the town of Selcuk in the south of Izmir. But in ancient times it was ancient Greece. Many centuries ago Ephesus was large and rich, there was a lively trade, and ships from neighboring countries met at the wharf. Now the city with the temple of Artemis has become a ghost of the past, only archaeological excavations and the memory of generations have not allowed them to disappear for good.

Video overview of the Temple of Artemis

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