Friday, September 07, 2012

7 Wonders of the Ancient World The Temple of Artemis at...

Let me set the scene, Ancient Ephesus, one of the greatest harbours on the Eastern Aegean, served as a major link on the chief line of communication between the East and Greece and Rome. It was the gateway to the East for the West. Any Roman governor of the Asia province was bound to first land in Ephesus when he entered his office.

Now days, Ephesus lies several miles from the coast, as the gulf that lead to it has silted up, in Turkey.

Ephesus, as well as a great port, was a religious centre in the ancient world. Near the hill of Ayasaluk lies the site of the great Temple of Artemis, or Diana as she was called by the Romans. The temple once stretch c. 2 km above the city centre however, even the very site of it remained hidden for centuries, buried deep beneath the soil of the plain.

The temple of Artemis was built, and rebuilt several times. The remains visible from its excavation are from its 4th century BC temple. This was built to replace the 6th century temple, which had had columns built by Croesus, King of Lydia (Herodotus tells us, and pieces of column bearing his name have been found. Its great when ancient literature matches the archaeology). This temple was burned down by a man named Herostratus the night Alexander the Great was born. He was said to have done this in the hope of achieving everlasting fame however the Ephesians issued a decree forbidding the mention of his name for all time. Furthermore, they sold treasure and the columns of the old temple to raise funds for a final, spectacular temple on the site. They made the base of this c. 2.7 m higher than the previous temple in an attempt to prevent flooding. The final temple was eventually ransacked and destroyed by the Goths in 263 AD.

The 4th century BC temple was named as a Wonder of the World, partly due to it sheer size, but also because of its beautiful and lavish decoration both inside and out. It’s more unusual features were the use of sculpted column drums on some columns, each nearly 20 ft. in circumference and 6 ft. high. It attracted thousands of pilgrims in antiquity.

The temple was excavated by Mr. Wood in 1870, however the remains were scanty. This was due to the temple being used as a quarry in later centuries and its stone reused in other buildings. This lack of evidence has lead to much debate over the architecture of this vast structure.

Via Ancient Peoples - 7 Wonders of the Ancient World The Temple of...