Ephesus

Ephesus

Ephesus was an important commercial port city on the Aegean Sea in the West Coast of Turkey. Its history goes back to 7000 years. The size and exact date of Ephesus is still under investigation. Excavations and restorations are still ongoing. However, with the help of archeology science, there are many other studies. Behaviors at various periods in Ephesus, social life, eating habits, diseases, causes of death, epidemics, changes in structures, repairs, plants used in food, meats, spices are revealed by the work on the bones. In addition, used coins, building materials, food and cooking utensils, tombs, houses, ornaments, warehouses, restaurants and shops, weapons and most importantly the inscriptions are undergoing a detailed examination. In recent years, topographic surveys have gained importance especially in the harbor area, which has been permanently blocked and replaced by alluviums brought by the Kucuk Menderes River.

So what makes Ephesus so special? 

Ephesus is called the city where the legendary Amazons were founded, just like the neighboring city of Izmir (Smyrna). The Queen of Amazon, who founded Izmir, is known as Esmirna and the Queen of the Amazon who founded Ephesus is known as Apasa. In the Hittite inscriptions, Ephesus is referred to as Aspawa. Ephesus is also referred to as the honeybee city, and if there is a portrait of Artemis on one side of the ancient coins, there is also a honeycomb on the other.  Because a beehive was made up of a feminine community, and ruled by a queen. Same as a beehive there was a queen who ruled Ephesus, which was founded by the Amazons, and the community consisted of female warriors.

In addition, the indigenous peoples of Anatolia, Luwis, Carians and Leleges were living in Ephesus. 3000 years ago when the Greeks left Greece and migrated to the coasts of Western Anatolia, they met with these locals in Turkey's Aegean Region. Of course, there were great battles. In the end, the Greeks established Ionian cities, which we can describe as 12 city-states. Among these, Miletus and Ephesus were the most important.

If we accept the first Ephesus to be established by the Amazons, the location is on the Ayasuluk hill today; we can say that the second Ephesus was founded by the Greek King Androklus. The location of this second Ephesus, which was founded 3000 years ago, is now the site of the Temple of Artemis. This Greek Goddess, the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo, was a symbol of both the Mother Goddess and the virgins. She was the goddess of both hunters and animals. For the goddess Artemis, Ephesians built 5 Temples. The first temple was built 2800 years ago in its present location. The temple that was built for Artemis is the largest temple in the world. Then the Romans called Artemis as Diana.

The foundation of Third Ephesus dates back to 2300 years. The reason why Ephesus was established in other places is that alluviums brought by Menderes River turn the ports into swamps and make them unusable. This marsh triggered malaria disease throughout history and led to mass deaths in Ephesus throughout history. Returning to the foundation of the third Ephesus; after the death of Great Alexander, 5 Macedonian soldiers, who were his followers and generals, divided the Alexander Empire into five separate administrative regions. There were even King of Egypt and King of Syria amongst them. Ephesus was taken General Lysimachus and changed the name of Ephesus to Arsinoe, the name of his wife. 

It is the third Ephesus where the Ephesus tours made today. Lysimachus migrated people from other places to here, and even force them to settle in Ephesus to create a city. But 20 years later, these five great commanders of Great Alexander are beginning to fight with each other. As a result, General Seleukos, who settled in Syria and was the King of the Syria, was defeated in battle and Lysimachus died during the war. Thus, Ephesus becomes a part of the Syrian Kingdom which lasts about 70 years. 2200 years ago, the kingdom of Pergamum removed the Syrian Kingdom from Ephesus and Western Anatolia with the support of the Romans. Ephesus connected to the king of Pergamum for a while, then 2100 years ago it becomes the capital of the Romans in Asia Minor. Ephesus, which was a Roman city since then, has been transformed into a rich and perfect city by returning to its old days. The ruins, streets and artifacts that have been visited and admired today are being built in the Roman period that lasted 700 years. As always, Ephesus had a very important commercial port also in the Roman period. It was a shining star in ancient times with its trade and agriculture-based economy. Ephesus was an important episcopal and Christian center in the Byzantine period. During the Pagan period, the Temple of Artemis served as a famous and rich pilgrimage city.

It is the third Ephesus where the Ephesus tours made today. Lysimachus migrated people from other places to here, and even force them to settle in Ephesus to create a city. But 20 years later, these five great commanders of Great Iskandar are beginning to fight with each other. As a result, General Seleukos, who settled in Syria and was the King of the Lysimachus, was defeated in battle and Lysimachus died during the war. Thus, Ephesus becomes a part of the Syrian Kingdom which lasts about 70 years. 2200 years ago, the kingdom of Pergamum removed the Syrian Kingdom from Ephesus and Western Anatolia with the support of the Romans. Ephesus connected to the king of Pergamum for a while, then 2100 years ago it becomes the capital of the Romans in Asia Minor. Ephesus, which was a Roman city since then, has been transformed into a rich and perfect city by returning to its old days. The ruins, streets and artifacts that have been visited and admired today are being built in the Roman period that lasted 700 years. As 
always, Ephesus had a very important commercial port also in the Roman period. It was a shining star in ancient times with its trade and agriculture-based economy. Ephesus was an important episcopal and Christian center in the Byzantine period. During the Pagan period, the Temple of Artemis served as a famous and rich pilgrimage city.

The move of the capital to Constantinople, today's Istanbul, Arab influences, and the transformation of the port into a swamp and the disease of malaria have greatly affected Ephesus. The rich city of Ephesus once turned into a small Christian settlement 1200 years ago, and many places of Ephesus were abandoned and a small city in the harbor area was established.

With the arrival of the Turks in the region, the city of Ephesus has changed hands between the Turkish Principalities and Byzantium many times over 1000 years ago. Finally, 700 years ago, Ephesus is in the hands of the Turks. The city of Ephesus once again becomes rich in social and commercial life. In the period of Aydınoğulları and then in the Ottoman period, it became an important city. In this period, which can be called the Fourth Ephesus period, the city center is at the top of Ayasuluk. However, before the Turks came here the important reconstruction activities was started on Ayasuluk Hill of Ephesus. In particular, the Byzantine Castle and the Saint John Basilica show the great power of that period. As soon as the Turks arrived, they built the 645-year-old Isa Bey Mosque, which is still the largest and the oldest mosque in the region, at the skirts of Saint John's Basilica. Again a lot of mosques, hamams, and tombs are being built in that period. The goods produced in Ayasuluk are sold to China, Iran, 
Spain and Italy. Besides Turks and Byzantines, Armenians, Jews, Venetians and Genoese people live here in this period.

However, following the conquest of Istanbul, the Ottoman gave more importance to Istanbul and Europe. The fact that İzmir stands out as a port city and that the river turns the harbor into a swamp again and triggers malaria, leads to the end of the fourth Ephesus. It becomes a small abandoned settlement again.

However, the discovery of Ephesus goes back 150 years ago. The efforts of the European archaeologists to find this important city, the Temple of Artemis, the House of Virgin Mary and their researches attract attention here again. First the British and approximately 125 years after the Austrians, get permission from the Ottomans, then from the Republic of Turkey founded in 1923, to continue their excavations. Today, being an important tourist city and taking the name of Selcuk as the fifth Ephesus, this place became an important tourist destination and gained its importance in history since the early 1900s.

Today, one of the largest ancient cities of the world has been revealed. 2 million people from all over the world by air, land and sea every year come to see Ancient Ephesus and its surroundings such as the House of the Virgin Mary House, Artemis Temple, Saint John’s Basilica, Isa Bey Mosque, Seven Sleepers Cave, Sirince Village, The Byzantine castle of Selcuk and Ephesus Archaeological Museum.

Located just 20 km from Ephesus and Turkey's modern coastal resort city of Kusadasi, has a port for cruise ships and also the international airport which is in Turkey's third largest city called Izmir is in an hour drive distance from Ephesus. So there is an easy access for the visitors who wish to see Ephesus and its surroundings. 

This amazing ancient city of Ephesus located in Turkey's Aegean Region, is just 5 minutes away from the Aegean Sea  awaits its visitors with all of its grandeur and mystery.

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