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About Ephesus, Ephesus An altar

The one attraction that made Ephesus famous among the cities of antiquity was her Temple of Artemis (Roman Diana), one of the seven wonders of the world. It measured 180 by 360 feet and had columns on the order of 70 feet high. It was this temple that Demetrius the Ephesian silversmiths referred to when he stirred up his colleagues: And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may count for nothing (Acts 19:27, RSV). Paul and his friends had brought the gospel to town and the image makers were in trouble: Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable company of people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. (Acts 19:26, RSV). The Ephesian goddess was actually a form of the Asian mother goddess and had little but the name in common with Greek Artemis and nothing in common with Roman Diana. She was a goddess of fertility and was believed to be the source of fecundity in man and beast and vegetation. As such, her worship was sensuous and orgiastic.

Altar of Artemis Found From the very beginning of the archaeological quest, investigators were searching for the altar of the temple. Strabo, the Greek geographer, recorded that the alter associated with the fourth-century structure was filled with statues by Praxiteles, a statement which made the Austrian excavators particularly eager to find it. But not until 1965 did a deep trench dug on the west side of the temple bring to light some of the foundations that belonged to the classical altar. In the course of further investigations, additional information emerged about the earlier Archaic altar and even the early structures beneath it; but with each new find, new problems also arose, and very recent excavations have both illuminated these problems and posed fresh, intriguing dilemmas.

Situated remarkably close to the seas ancient shoreline, there is a fresh-water spring, which seems to have served as a sacrificial place, possibly as early as the tenth century B.C. when the area was invaded BSP 4:1 (Winter 1975) p. 17 by seafaring Greeks. This sites proximity to the seashore may explain why the Greeks chose it. In any event, there are also remains of an ancient road which leads to the spring, and there are indications that a seventh-century cult was located by it. Around the middle of the seventh century, the Ephesians built a small naiskos, or shrine, on this road, and in the course of excavations charred bones of animals burnt for sacrifice were found together with small votives and pottery sherds.

Several ivories were also uncovered. One, the lower part of a female, may be a fragment from a statuette of a priestess or a goddess, for it has parallels with several statuettes discovered by Hogarth. Another is an ivory ram with a cross-like incision, which was probably once attached to some larger object; indeed, it may have served originally as inlay on a throne together with several pieces of furniture decoration. Additional finds include a faience.

1. Harbor Street 8. Hillside houses. 15. Trajan's Fountain. 22. Freshwater pipes.
2. Theater  9. Public toilets  16. Curetes Street. 23. The Fountain of Pollio.
3. Commercial Agora.   10. Latrina  17. Hercules Gate. 24. Prytaneon.
4. Library of Celsus. 11. Scholastica Baths  18. Memmius Monument. 25. Odeon.
5. Gate of Mazeus and Mithridates  12. The Mosaic - Paved sidewalk  19. Temple of Domitian. 26. Isis Temple.
6. Marble Street  13. Entrance Scholastica Baths. 20. An altar. 27. Stage Agora.
7. Brothel  14. Hadrian's Temple. 21. The list of Curetes. 28. Baths of Varius.


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