Ephesus History

In the world in which we live every object and every event which we see or which we cannot see with the eye has a name. It is through these names that they retain a place in our memory. We remember by them, we call by them, and we think by them. When we ask ourselves what these names mean we are faced with a variety of questions which need to be answered.

While some of these names are related to legends coming to us from the depths of history, others remind us of events which have given people fear or love, and still others may be the names of important persons. Some of these questions remain unanswered, no work by any grammarian having brought any success, while for others we can very clearly and easily find out what they are and where they derive from. Sometimes conflicts arise.

To give some examples, Aphrodisias comes from Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty; Athens from Athena, the protective goddess of the city; and Alexandria from the name of the king of Macedonia, founder of the city. As for Ephesus, it has come through history to our day without interruption except for a few instances. Thus, although in 289 BC Lysimachus, a general under Alexander the Great, named the city he built between the mountains of Coressus (Bülbül) and Fion (Panay?r) after his wife Arsinoe, it was changed back to Ephesus after the death of Lysimachus. A second change took place in the Christian era concerning the hill which lies today within the boundaries of the present Selçuk and upon which stand the church of St. John and a fortress: it was named "Hagios Theologos” after St. John who was very sacred for Christians. This hill was later called "Altuslocus", Alasaluck" and “Ayasuluk” which is still the present name of the hill.

Map of Ephesus in Late Antiquity   Site Map of Ephesus

It should be made clear that in spite of the efforts of a great number of grammarians, it has not been possible to state with certainty where the name "Ephesus” derived from and what it meant. Some researchers say that the city was founded by the Amazons and that the name Ephesus was the name of an Amazon queen. Etymology remains unsatisfactory in this area. Some other researchers maintain that the name derives from "Apasas", the name of the city built by the Hittites in West Anatolia. Still others have written that it derives from the word "Apis” meaning a bee. Indeed, Ephesus was a city which had a bee for its emblem. Also, early Ephesian coins had bees on them. The bee with its qualities of honey – producing and stinging has an important place in mythology. Aristaeus, son of Apollo and the god of hunting and valleys learned apiculture from the nymphs and taught it to human beings. The bee is also related with Artemis of Ephesus. The bee is defined as the symbol of abundance. Maybe Ephesus was the city of a goddess of bees, which is of course also an hypothesis.


Towards the end of the 13th century BC the Greek peninsula was invaded by the Dorians coming from the north. The invasion extended as far as the south of the peninsula. Settlements were completely destroyed. The indigenous people living in the region (the Achaeans) could not stand the pressures of the Dorians and they sailed into the Aegean Sea in ships under the command of Androclus, son of King Codrus of Athens and famous for his heroic feats. Sailing by the island of Samos and the Aegean islands, they founded settlements on the coast of West Anatolia. These settlements were cities such as Miletus, Smyrna, Colophon and Ephesus. Thus, they constituted together with the native the foundation of Ephesus. One of these is that it was founded by women fighters, the Amazons. Cybele, the oldest goddess of Anatolia, as far as we know, appears in Catalhoyuk as a mother goddess beginning from 7000 BC onwards. Artemis of Ephesus is also a mother goddess. The Amazons also had a maternal appearance. The 5th century BC statues of Amazons decorating the Artemis Temple at Ephesus were probably for this reason there. On the other hand, according to the statements of Strabo and Pausanias, Androclus of Athens was the founder of the city. A related story is as follows: "Androclus, son of Codrus of Athens, who wanted to migrate to Anatolia consulted the oracle of Apollo about the city he was going to found there.

The oracle told him that people of the region the Ionic element. The development and culture resulting from this union was very different from the Dorian culture existing in the Greek peninsula. The new people of Ionia were of an active, bold, noble and lively character. But we will see, in the course of time, this fine attitude turn into intrigues because of political interests.

There are several opinions regarding a fish and a boar would show him the site where the city was to be built. When Androclus went ashore with his troops, the soldiers lit a fire to cook fish. The fire expanded and a boar ran out from the bushes. Seeing this, Androclus remembered the words of the oracle, jumped on his horse and running after the boar killed it. And on this site he founded the city of Ephesus. (This myth is represented in the frieze of the Temple of Hadrian.

This site is said to be the northern slope of Mount Pion overlooking the harbour. When Androclus came ashore in the bay of Ephesus, he met the indigenous peoples of Caria and Lydia, and the Lelegs. These people lived aroundAyasuluk and the Artemiseum, and on the slopes facing each other of the mountains of Coressus (Bülbül) and Pion (Panay?r) and also on the northern slopes of these mountains. Lydians were the resident folk living in the area between the rivers of Hermus (Gediz) and Maeander (Büyükmenderes), who were of Indo-Germanic origin and who spoke Hittite-Luvi. Carians, a mixture of the indigenous people and the Hittites who later came to the area,lived to the south of the Lydians. Lelegs, according to Pausanias, were a people of the myths and probably one of the oldest folks of Anatolia.

Herodotus mentions a Hittite relief on the road from Ephesus to Phocaea. A rock-relief of warriors reminiscent of Hittites can be seen at Karabel on the present day road of Torbal? Kemal Pa?a between Ephesus and Sardis. And the fact that a bronze group of Hittite origin dated back to the 13th century BC was found in the area to the east of the Gymnasium of Vedius in Ephesus makes us think that Hittites might have once lived in the region. Could these bronze pieces be considered an indication of the city of Apasas? Ceramics belonging to the 2000s and which can be dated back to the Bronze Age, found in the eastern slopes, of the hill of Ayasuluk during excavations and restorations conducted in 1990 by the directorate of the Museum of Ephesus in the Church of St. John and surroundings, takes the Ephesian history known to us up to now about 500 to 800 years further back. Excavation is at present going on in the same area.

After Androclus, his descendants ruled the city in aristocratic monarchy. Because the Temple of Artemis drew large masses here and because there existed a maritime trade extending to inner regions, this small settlement quickly developed and grew. It should be remembered that in those times the Ionians and the Greeks had no important maritime power. The sea was dominated by the Phoenicians. In the 8-6th centuries BC the Greek colonization waves swept the Phoenicians from the Aegean. Up to that time, the Ionians were also in commercial relations with them. After the fall of the Hittite Kingdom in the 1200s BC they had close relationships with Phyrigians of Indo-Germanic origin who had founded kingdoms in Anatolia because Ephesus was a port of landing for goods heading for the Greek peninsula.

These economic relations played a great role in the development of Ionia and Ephesus. Together with economic development also a superior culture was created. As in those days cities were always open to attack by external powers, a necessity was felt to surround them by walls. Great competition existed among these cites which were in fact city- states. In the 9th century BC Ionians brought the Dorian tribes in western Anatolia under their domination and formed a league, and they elected a basileus to head it. This league had no political influence, it had only religious significance. The centre of the league was Panionion on the mountain of Mycale (Be?parmak). In that era, an important happening took place in Ionia which continued to be affective to this day. We have no knowledge about the person who performed it. This important person created from the Phoenician alphabet which consisted solely of consonants a new alphabet comprising vowels and which could thus be read and written easily. The Iliad and the Odyssey repeated verbally up to then were put into written form by Homer. The birthplace of this renowned person is said to be Smyrna, however, cities such as Cyme, Colophon and Ephesus were cities in which he had lived or had been a guest of their basileus.


In the first half of the 7th century BC King Gyges of Lydia assembled his armies in order to invade his western neighbours, the Ionian cities, with a view to opening Sardis, the capital of Ionia, to the sea. He captured such cities as Miletus, Magnesia, Smyrna and Colophon. But in the 675s an attack by the Cimmerians (a Thracian and Persian people) stopped this invasion. The Cimmerians attacked Anatolia from the Caucasus, they destroyed the Phrygian Empire, then, advancing in waves they captured Lydia and its capital Sardis, and in 652 BC they attacked Ephesus. The Ephesians, although they defended the city heroically, were not able to resist the attack of the Cimmerians.

A poet by the name of Callinus stopped the invaders from pillaging the city of Ephesus by reciting poetry for them. The Cimmerians, although giving up invading the city, destroyed the Temple of Artemis. And they left certain traces in Ephesus, although little. The ivory statuette of a ram displayed in the Artemis Hall of the Museum of Ephesus is a Cimmerian work from that period. With the destruction of the Temple of Artemis, restlessness began to show up in the city. In the end the Basitites who ruled the city were removed. Thus, towards the end of the 7th century BC Pythagoras began his tyranny in Ephesus. Pythagoras had a despotic, tyrannni- cal and pitiless personality. In his cruelty he condemned the people who had taken shelter in the Temple of Artemis to hunger, thus leading them to commit suicide. When hunger and epidemic diseases began taking hand of the city Pythagoras consulted his oracles. The oracles told him to construct tombs for those who were killed and a temple for the goddess Artemis. Thus, in the beginning of the 6th century BC the Temple of Artemis was rebuilt.

I n the first half of the 6th century BC Melas and Pindaros became the tyrants of Ephesus. Melas was the son-in-law of King Alyattes of Lydia and the father of Pindaros who succeeded him. In 560 BC the 35-year old King Croesus of Lydia, son of Alyattes, attacked Ephesus. From what we learn from Herodotus' history the Ephesians stretched a cable from the Temple of Artemis to the city walls. Thus, the city remained within the sacred area. Croesus attacked at first, and when there was a breach in the walls of the city, Pindaros, the tyrant of Ephesus, asked for a meeting with King Croesus of Lydia. As Croesus feared the gods he obeyed Artemis and stopped the attack. He asked Pindaros to stop ruling. He did not harm the city and sealed an agreement of friendship. As with other cities which he had conquered, Croesus set a tax on Ephesus, thus including it under Lydian rule. In order to gain the sympathy of Artemis and of the Ephesians, he made presents of golden statues of calves and capitals with reliefs to the Temple of Artemis. He increased the population of the city by enforcing the people living in the region of Mount Pion to live around the Artemiseum. Only the port was left in old Coressus. Following the fall of the tyranny Croesus invited a nobleman by the name of Aristarchus from Athens which was the centre of the colonies to come to Ephesus. He handed the rule of the city over to him. This personality who was provided with great power made reforms for a form of government tending towards democracy. In the new city of which the population augmented because of these reforms, he formed “guilds".

The beginning of the end came for the kingdom of Lydia when Croesus, burning with the passion of ruling and the fire of conquering, declared war on his powerful neighbour in the east, the Persians. The result of the war was the occupation of Sardis by the Persians and the end of Croesus.


Victories gained by Persians against Lydians brought bad days to the Ephesians. When Cyrus came to Ionia with his commanders Harpagos and Mazares, he occupied the Ionian cities by sacking and pillaging them. Thus, in Ephesus once again tyranny came to rule. The 6th century BC brought only evil to Ionia and Ephesus. The gold wealth of Sardis came into the possession of the Persians, near the island of Lade in front of the harbour of Miletus nearly the whole of the Ionian maritime fleet was destroyed. The cities were ravaged and destroyed. Revolts against the pressures of the Persians were put to an end. During the revolt, Ephesus had cautiously remained behind. It had adopted an egoistic policy of waiting to see to which side the victory would move. In the course of history we will often meet with this particularity of Ephesian rulers. This policy of Ephesus did not remain without reward. The city and the Temple of Artemis were not harmed. And Ephesus was looked upon favourably by the Persian king.

In those days Miletus was the most important city of Ionia. A centre of art, literature and science, it was also the centre of a large colonization and at the same time, because of international trade relationships, was a rich city. Whereas Ephesus was quite behind. Did the desire of the Ephesians to remain afloat in times of danger possibly result in augmenting the creative power of its people, thus providing them with a character of capability to go on Hving? Had the Ephesians not already in the 7th century BC stopped Cimmerian attacks by reciting poetry to them and saved their city from disaster? Indeed, in this period too, developments in art and cultural events followed one another. Around 576 BC the Temple of Hera in Samos, the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus and the Temple of Apollo in Didyma were constructed. The Doric order was developed in the Greek peninsula and the Ionic order in the islands and in West Anatolia.

In the 6th century BC philosophies of nature and the myths began to be explained according to physical principles. Subjects relating to the creation of stars and of the world and the origin of all substances were explained physically. Thus, the first doubts concerning religion began to show up and the idea of a single god was propagated. Myths were denied. Among the first big names such as Thales,Anaximander and Anaximenes of Miletus and Xenophanes of colophon there is also Heracleitus of Ephesus. Heracleitus (540-480 BC) believed that fire had an important property. He therefore claimed fire to be an essential element. (Fire disappeared, air came into existence; the going out of existence of the air created the water.) He believed that in every event and in everything there was a continuous evolution and change. He also thought that everything that affected the
senses was both existent and non-existent at that moment (that is to say that it immediately stopped existing and changed into another existence). Heracleitus did not like the way of life of the Ephesians nor did he like the form of government of the city. Therefore, most of the time he tried to avoid crowds and he had the particularity of telling people in the face of their faults in harsh words when necessary. The following anectode relating to this is quite interesting. Heracleitus was one day playing a game of osse- lets near the Temple of Artemis. When Ephesians gathered around him and watched in astonishment he said to them: "Why are you looking on, you immoral people? Or is doing this not better than to govern the state with you people by gossiping?"

The rulers of the city were acting egotistically and in their own interests, thus causing a lack of organization of union in Ionian cities. This situation had negative effects on military matters and on external politics. This lack of organization and discipline probably resulted from fear of the mighty Persian army. However, in 500 BC a revolt began under the leadership of Aristagoras, the tyrant of Miletus. Carians and Lycians also joined in this revolt. An aid of 25 ships had come from Athens and Eretria. The whole Ionian fleet which had anchored in the vicinity of Ephesus reached the city of Sardis through the valley of Cayster and invaded the city.

The revolters burned and destroyed and pillaged the city until nothing was left standing. This was the first time that they had come together in an action against the Persians. However, this revolt did not last very long. The Persians captured Ionia again. In 494 BC the Ionian fleet was defeated and burned by the Persians in the vicinity of the island of Lade in front of Miletus. The people who were the worst off by this war were those of Miletus and of Chios (Sak?z). The inhabitants of Chios took refuge on the shores of Mycale (Karine), and walking by night they came to Ephesus. When they arrived in Ephesus it was the time of the feast of Thermophoria which was held in the months of October and November and in which only married women participated. Ephesians, when they saw at night the armed people of Chios, killed them all, thinking them to be brigands come to assault their women.

In 479 BC the Persian commander Mardonius occupied Athens and its surroundings, but he was defeated by the allied forces and killed in Plataea and his armies had to retreat. This event provided for Athens a first step to power. In 478 BC it founded together with its allies the "Attic- Delian Sea League". The sense of responsibility felt by Athens for this league caused it to undertake the leadership of the league. And this provided the basis for the increase of the political and economic power of Athens and for its rise in culture. In 450 BC Pericles came to rule the state and he became the leader of the Attic-Delian League. The tolerance and self-assurance of the early times turned into conceit. Thus, they abused of this role of leadership. They increased the contributions of the other member-cities of the league. This caused the rival city of Sparta to act for its own wishes and interests. The Peloponnesian War caused the downfall of the superior culture of the Classical Age.

The domination of the Persians ended for Ephesus when it joined the Attic- Delian Sea League in 467 BC. But this time the hegemonia of Athens began. Ephesus paid to the League 7,5 talents in 453 BC, 6 in 444 BC and 7,5 in 436 BC. During the Peloponnesian War which lasted between 431 and 404 BC the Ephesians acted accordingly as to who would win the war. At first, Athens was favoured. For 16 years Ephesus took its place by the side of Athens. This situation changed when Governor Tissaphernes of Sparta conquered Ephesus and thus Sparta began weighing heavier in the balance, so that in 415 BC Ephesus, left Athens' side and made a pact of friendship with Sparta. The Athenian commander Thrasyllus, in order to regain possession of the city, anchored his heavily armed ships in Coressus (the harbour of Ephesus) and marched with his soldiers towards the city. But they did not want the city to be sacked.

The Ephesians took anvantage of this slow advance to complete their military preparations and attacking the Athenians they forced them to retreat. In 407 BC the Spartans came to the harbour of Ephesus with 70 ships, and when they sank 22 Athenian ships the rest of the Athenian fleet fled to Algispotamai. In 405 BC the Athenians concluded a truce with the Spartans and left Ephesus to the Spartans, Victorians of the war. In their gratefulness the Ephesians placed statues of Spartans in the Temple of Artemis. In later times, during the wars undertaken by Spartans against the Persians, Ephesus began serving as an important war base. In the spring of 396 BC King Agesilaus of Sparta came to Ephesus. Me made his war preparations here. During that time Ephesus was overrun by soldiers. A military government took the place of the oligarchy. The city became like a garrison.

Everywhere soldiers disturbed people. They frequently pillaged the valley of Cayster. Because of these the citizens had become pessimistic. And economically too the city weakened considerably. Just at about this time the Athenians destroyed the Spartan fleet in the vicinity of the island of Cnidus. Ephesus immediately became hostile towards Sparta. What else could be expected, any way? In 391 BC the city became friends again with Sparta. Ephesus was given to the Persians following an agreement made in 386 BC between Admiral Antalcidas of Sparta and King Artaxerxes II of Persia. Thus, this was the third sovereignty of Persians over Ephesus. Moreover, during this period a still more unlucky event for Ephesians happened.

The most sacred temple of Artemis in Ephesus was burned in 359 BC by a psychopath who wanted to go down in history. He was caught after the fire and confessed while being beaten that his motive had been to make his name immortal, naturally, the penalty for such deeds was death without further interrogation. Thus, in the end he had reached his aim. This situation was an abyss for Ephesians, both religiously and economically. The temple had burned down, cult statues, offerings and the treasures of the temple were destroyed. The rebuilding of the temple was begun, but because of lack of finance the work advanced slowly. Rumour went around in the city that the Persians had usurped the temple money. The women of Ephesus donated their personal belongings and jewellery to the temple for it to be finished without further delay. Another important event had taken place the night the temple burned. This was the birth of Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia. Hegesias of Magnesia also indicates that it was because the goddess Artemis had left the temple to be midwife for the mother of Alexander that she had not been able to stop the fire.


With Alexander a better era began for Ephesus. In 334 BC Alexander the Great set foot in Asia with his soldiers at Hellespontus (the Dardanelles). The Macedonian and Persian armies met at Granicus (Biga Çay?). The invincible Persian cavalry was defeated by Alexander's forces. Alexander, the winner of this battle, occupied Sardis and came to Ephesus after a journey of four days. Me captured the city without any bloodshed, as the Greek mercenaries who heard that the Persians had been defeated took possession of the two Persian men-of-war anchored in the harbour of Ephesus and fled the city. It was thus that Alexander entered Ephesus in 334 BC with no casualties and no resistance. Alexanders first action was to bring back to the city those who had been sent away because of him. Me put an end to the oligarchy, and brought in the democratic system. He said that he wanted to meet all expenditures for the construction of the Temple of Artemis which had burned down on the night when he was born. But according to the words of an Ephesian whose name we do not know who said that "it would not be becoming for one god to aid another god” made Alexander give up this wish of his. He expanded the area of refuge of the temple. Perhaps Alexander wanted to make himself immortal through this temple, as he had wanted that an inscription in his name be put in it. He ordered that the taxes which were paid previously to the Persians be paid from now on to the priests of Artemis. Alexander the Great, as the beginner of a new era, destroyed the military power of Sparta. With the democratic order which he brought, religion began to lose its domination over the people. Some people even became atheists. Philosophers like Plato and Aristotle attempted to find out the truth about the facts of life. Alexander the Great died at the age of 33 in Babylon in 323 Be. A kingdom was broken up. His successors fought each other pitilessly in order to divide his heritage among themselves. Ephesus was playing politics once again in order to take its place near the most powerful. This opportunistic attitude was probably a result of the desire to keep standing and to continue to exist. It also led to a lack of self government.

The kingdom of Alexander was divided into several parts. Seleucus began to* rule in Syria, Ptolemy in Egypt, Antigonus in Macedonia and Greece, and Lysimachus in Thrace. Lysimachus was an important commander of Alexander. Ephesus was captured by Antigonus in 319 BC.In 303 Lysimachus went into action against Antigonus. Lysimachus sent his commander Prepelas to Ionia. Ephesus was besieged and occupied. All the ships in the harbour were burned. Antigonus called his son Demetrius to Anatolia for help. And Ephesus was recaptured by him. After a short while Lysimachus joined his army with that of Seleucus Micator. These fought against the armies of Antigonus at Ipsus in Phrygia in 301 BC. Antigonus was defeated and killed. His son Demetrius fled with the defeated army into the sheltering boundaries of the Temple of Artemis of Ephesus. In 299 BC Lysimachus captured western Anatolia completely. He married Arsinoe, the daughter of his old friend King Ptolemy of Egypt. He reconstructed the city between the mountains of Coressus and Pion.  And he named the city Arsinoe, after his wife. He forced the people living around the Artemiseun to migrate to populate this new city, as the harbour had become marshy with the alluvium carried by the Cayster River. The sea had receded. The newly constructed city was close to the sea. In spite of this, the people did not want to move there. This must have been because of the effect of propaganda from the feelings of the conservatives about new things and the religious people about not leaving the vicinity of the Temple of Artemis. At a conference which took place in the Museum of Ephesus in September 1990 the Head of the Austrian Institute of Archaeology Hofrat Prof. Dr. Qerhard Langmann, basing his speech on information obtained from his excavations in the Agora of Ephesus which are still going on at present, mentioned the following interesting points. In his excavations Prof. Dr. Langmann had found ceramics dating from before Lysimachus (proto geometric). In adddition, he indicated that the site of this new city was a cemetery. Therefore we can say that the people insisted in not going to the new city out of respect for the dead. That those who were forced to go built a wall between the settlement area and the cemetery is also a present topic of discussion.

Then , one day, Lysimachus was very lucky. That day the city had had a lot of rain. Lysiamchus had the sewers of the city stopped up. When the city was inundated, the people were forced to go to the newly constructed city between the mountains of Coressus and Pion. The new city was surrounded by walls. Many people from cities in the region, such as Colophon and Lebedus, were also forced to migrate into this city. As a result, the population of the city increased. New constructions were erected. A modern port was built. The slopes began to be covered with houses. Public buildings were constructed. The Ephesians were not happy with these goings on. Many of them wanted Seleucus Nicator. In 281 BC Lysimachus and King Seleucus fought a battle in the valley of Corupedium to the east of Magnesia. Lysimachus was killed in the battle. Those Ephesians who were partisans of Seleucus revolted in the city. And Seleucus occupied the city easily. Lysimachus' wife Arsinoe fled the city and saved herself with difficulty. Arsinoe was renamed Ephesus. In 278 BC Anatolia was invaded by warrior Galatians coming from Thrace. Galatians extended as far as the valley of Hermus. Ionia was saved from Galatian invasion when in 275 BC Antiochus I defeated them. Antiochus won great esteem in Ionia and was given the title of Soter (saviour). In later years, his son Antiochus II who succeeded him in 262 BC came into conflict with King Ptolemy of Egypt, and in order to keep the Ionian cities against him, he declared democratic autonomy in Ionia. In 247 BC Antiochus II was poisoned by his wife Leodike in Ephesus. (According to an hypothesis,the Belevi monumental Tomb, standing to the northeast of Ephesus at the fifteenth kilometre of the present Selçuk-Tire highway, belongs to him.) Antiochus II's son Seleucus II succeeded him in 247 BC. He spent his reign fighting Egypt. Although cities like Miletus, Ephesus and Pergamum promised help, when Seleucus II crossed the Taurus Mountains and marched towards Syria, King Ptolemy III of Egypt came with his fleet to the Ionian coast and captured it. Later in time, Seleucus II and his brother Antiochus came into bad terms with each other which caused a fight between them. It was Antiochus who won the battle. In Ephesus Antiochus III was free of anxiety towards the Romans as he believed that in a probable war Romans would not be able to enter Anatolia. The Romans sent ambassadors to Ephesus. Among these was also the renowned soldier Cornelius Scipio Africanus. The negotiations were not successful. War started. When in the end Antiochus III was defeated by the Romans in Magnesia ad Sipylum, Ephesus was taken over by them.

The Romans made Antiochus III sign a very severe peace treaty. The Roman soldiers spent the winter in Ephesus. The city became overrun by soldiers. Disturbances and uneasiness began to take place in the city. In 133 BC the Romans left by agreement the rule of Ephesus to the Kingdom of Pergamum. The last king of Pergamum, Attalus III, who was by character a lover of science and research and who appreciated a calm and quiet life died the same year (133 BC). And he put into effect an event unprecedented in history up to that date. He bequeathed the Kingdom of Pergamum to Rome. Thus Ephesus was also attached to Rome.


The heritage of the Kingdom of Pergamum was in the end not without difficulties. Aristonicus revolted against the Romans for the inheritance of Attalus, son of Eumenes II born from an Ephesian prostitute. And he fought them. For three years Rome tried to put an end to this revolt. And in the end it did. As a result, Aristonicus was kept a prisoner in Ephesus until his death. Ephesians had in this war, as in previous periods, taken sides with the powerful Romans. Naturally, this was not left without reward. And as a result, poverty and debts ended. Manius Aguilius came from Rome with ten high-grade officers as consul in Ephesus. Aguilius strengthened the relations between Ephesus and Rome. He designated Ephesus as the beginning of the King's road. A great number of tradesmen began rushing into Ephesus by land and sea. Welfare had gone up but the Roman taxmen (Publicane) were making unjust profit from the city. And they had become quite rich. In 104 BC the Ephesians asked Rome for help to stop this arbitrary behaviour.

The task of the agent was undertaken by Artemidorus, the great geographer and orator of the period. Whereupon the Roman senate took sides against the tax collectors who had to take refuge in the shelter area of the Temple of Artemis. And in their gratitude the Ephesians erected a statue to honour Artemidorus. Events of this kind decreased the loyalty of Ephesus towards Rome and turned it into hatred. King Mithradates of Pontus who had been nourished on the idea of a great Asian kingdom took profit of this attitude in 88 BC.

The Ephesians immediately opened their doors to him. When Mithradates felt himself securely in place in Ephesus, he gave orders for absolute death penalty for those who spoke Latin in Ephesus. All the Ephesians who had a grudge against the Romans immediately obeyed this order. First of all, they destroyed the Roman statues of honour in the city and they attacked the Romans. As Mithradates was of a severe character he acted quite harshly in the city and in the end he appointed a military governor to Ephesus. This situation did not last long.

Three years later the Roman consul and army commander Sulla started action to revenge the Romans and captured back the places occupied by Mithradates. In his anger and wish of revenge he fined Ephesus to 20 000 talents. He killed all the Pontic soldiers in the city. Sulla returned to Rome in 84 BC and became dictator there. With the departure of Sulla, the pirates in the Aegean had begun to give fright to the city. Because of fear Ephesus adopted a neutral attitude towards Rome. Maybe it was more reasonable to be as before with the powerful. With this reasoning a beautiful monument was built in Curetes Street to honour C.Memmius, Dictator Sulla's nephew. After Rome annihilated the pirates in the Mediterranean and the Aegean, industry, agriculture and trade began to flourish in Ephesus. In 51 BC the orator and artist Cicero came to Ephesus as the Proconsul of Rome and gave a conference. After Cicero, Julius Caesar gathered the Asian governors together in Ephesus and he also gave a conference. After which event he invaded Gallia (Gaul) and became a proconsul. In 44 BC Julius Caesar was stabbed in Rome. Mis two murderers, Brutus and Cassius, took refuge in Ephesus. In 39 BC Antonius (Mark Antony) came to Ephesus in order to finance his military expenditures. The Ephesians who knew his interest in the festivities of Dionysus organized a welcoming ceremony in which they dressed the women as Maenads and the men as Satyrs. Queen Cleopatra of Egypt had also come with Antonius. Thus, the Egyptian religion, the cult of Isis and Serapis, came to Ephesus. In 33 BC in which year his relations with Octavius were getting bad, Antonius came to Ephesus again with Cleopatra. Together with the 200 ships given by Cleopatra the number of ships in his fleet rose to 800. He collected soldiers and completed his preparations. He fled to Egypt when defeated in the sea battle in the out- waters of Athens which he fought against Octavius, once his army mate and brother-in-law and now his worst enemy. When in the following year Octavius came to Egypt and besieged Alexandria, Antonius and Cleopatra fell into despair and committed suicide (31 BC).

In 27 BC at the age of 33 Octavius was given the title of Augustus by the Roman Senate. And he was declared emperor. Under him internal disorders were calmed. During this period Ephesus began to gain in importance. Also a period of peace which was to last for about a hundred years began. In this period matters of state were rearranged. Persons who had been consuls in Asia were sent as governors. The population of Ephesus had risen to about 200 000 as the capital of the Roman province of Asia. The great historian of the period, Aristeides, defined Ephesus as "Asia's greatest centre of trade and banking". During this time the city was decorated with valuable works of art. After Augustus, Tiberius (14-37 AD) came to power. In his period, in 17 AD there was a violent earthquake in Ephesus. And although this event destroyed the city on a big scale, it regained its beauty through widespread reparations. The importance of Ephesus increased daily. The city became rich. The 1st and 2nd centuries AD were the brightest period of Ephesus.

Many of the structures we see in Ephesus today belong to this period, structures such as, the theatre, gymnasium, library and stadium. The renowned orator Aristeides defined Ephesus as "the general bank of Asia and the place of refuge for those in need of credit". In this period, the area within the walls built by Lysimachus was completely filled up with buildings. The earthquakes of 41 and 54 AD also harmed the city considerably. In 60 AD Proconsul Marcus Aefulanus saved the harbour from becoming marshland. Very important persons also became governor to Ephesus.

Emperor Hadrian came in 123 AD to Ephesus. He visited the Aegean islands and went to Rhodes on a yacht provided by the Ephesians. In the spring of 129 AD Hadrian came for a second time to Ephesus, this time by sea from Athens. He stayed a while there. He saved the harbour of the city which was filling up with the alluvium carried by the Carster River. He opened a new bed for the river. In 138 AD, Emperor Antoninus Pius who had previously been governor in Ephesus succeeded Hadrian. He declared Ephesus "the very first and the biggest metropolis of Anatolia". The Vedius Gymnasium in Ephesus was built during the reign of this emperor and it was dedicated to him. When, in 268 AD, the Temple of Artemis of Ephesus was, because of the riches of the previous period of peace, in its most magnificent period, it was burned down, destroyed and sacked by the Qoths arriving from the north. In this period, Christianity began to address large audiences in Ephesus. And later on, when stronger, the city became after Jerusalem and Antioch the third important centre of Christianity. The ideas of St. Paul who had come to Ephesus in 54 AD had reached their purpose. The third general council of the church organized by Emperor Theodosius was held in 431 AD in the church of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus. In 449 AD, this council was held a second time in the church of the Virgin Mary of Ephesus through the great efforts of the followers of the Archbishop of Alexandria, St. Cyril. The doctrine called "Monophysitism" had been accepted by force at this meeting. This doctrine is defined in history as "the brigandage of Ephesus". It was the identification of the Virgin Mary as the mother of God Jesus.

Participants of both meetings spoke of the sad state of lodgings in Ephesus and of the air pollution in the city. In this period, the harbour and its surronundings were filling up with alluvium and becoming marshy. The mosquitoes generated by the marshland were causing epidemic diseases like malaria. Because of these reasons, the harbour was gradually losing its importance, and unhealthy living conditions were causing the city to diminish day by day. The city had started to move slowly to the hill of Ayasuluk on which stood the tomb of St. John.

The earthquakes of 358-365 and 368 AD had also caused considerable damage to the city. Arab forces on campaigns to attack Istanbul in the 7th century AD on the way back attacked Ephesus among other cities of Ionia, and destroyed and burned down and pillaged everywhere. In the third campaign to Istanbul Caliph Suleimans commander Mesleme spent the winter of 716-717 AD in Ephesus. In this period, walls were built for protection from the Arabs, walls which ran parallel to the Harbour Street and which left such important buildings as the Celsus Library and the Agora, constituting the centre of the city, outside. The population was decreasing day by day. The harbour was turning into marshland. The malaria epidemic was becoming more intense everyday. Tradesmen were going to other ports. And the people had decided to live on the Ayasuluk Hill. In the 10th century AD the city had completely moved to Ayasuluk Hill.


The fact that the city built around the church of St. John was surrounded by walls in the 7th century to protect it against attacks from outside is an indication that the city of Ephesus had completely moved to that hill. Part of the walls restored in our day date from that period. Beginning from the 1 1th century AD the name of the city also is Known as "Hagios Theologos", a sacred name for Christians. In later times, because of faulty pronunciation this name appears as "Alto-luogo" meaning high place in Italian. After the arrival of the Turks it was adapted to Turkish and called Ayasuluk.

When we give a brief look at the Turkish period, we see that in the 1 1 th century Sakabey made attacks on Smyrna and its surroundings and captured these areas but could not have a lasting hold on them. This changing of hands went on for about two hundred years as a Turkish-Byzantine struggle. At the time of the Turks' arrival in the region the city on Ayasuluk Hill was a small settlement. Under the Turks the area began to revive. An efficient mutual trade atmosphere was soon created by the mostly animal products produced by the Turks and the industrial products produced by the people already living there.

While these friendly relationships were going on, the Moguls began invading Anatolia from the east in 1243, and the Byzantines took more care in protecting Thrace and the Balkans. Therefore the Seljuks had to remain peaceful for a long time. The Seljuk Turkish princes who could thus act at ease away from control founded independent principalities under their own name in the areas they lived in. In 1304 the Ayasuluk and Tire region was conquered by Sasa Bey, the son-in-law of Mente?e Bey; however, in 1308 Aydinoglu Mehmet Bey, a commander of the Principality of Germiyano?lu, captured the area and founded in his fathers name the Principality of Aydinoglu. As in previous periods, the region began gaining in importance again in the period of Aydinoglu Mehmet Bey. Shipyards were founded on the coast and a strong fleet was created against external attacks. Umur Bey who succeeded Mehmet Bey also continued friendly relations with Byzantium. The Albanian revolt undertaken against Byzantium in 1337 was put to an end by the aid of Umur Bey. Also in 1346 Osmano?lu Orhan Bey married the daughter of the Byzantine ex-vizier Emperor John Cantacuzenus with the consent of Umur Bey.

In 1348 Venetians who were busy in maritime trade constructed big warehouses on Cayster and on Ayasuluk for the expedition of goods like silk, cloth and leather to Europe. In 1365 with the coming into rule of Isa Bey the capital was moved to Ayasuluk. There are many buildings dating from that period (see the Isa Bey Mosque, the Isa Bey Baths, the Dome). The city developed in a short time. The harbour became active as in previous times. The people prospered. When Y?ld?r?m Beyaz?t, after coming into rule in the Principality of Osmanli, started to organize the unification of the Turkish principalities in Anatolia, the once friendly relations between the principalities of  the Mosque of Isa Bey, entrance Ayd?no?ullar? and Osmanli turned into hostility. This unfriendly relation and the changing of hands went on from 1389 to 1426 at which date Ayasuluk was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire completely and definitely. After this, in spite of the fact that it had a strong fortress, Ayasuluk went into decline as the epidemic diseases caused by marshland increased and the harbour filled up with alluvium. Smyrna began to gain in importance in this period. The 17th century traveller Evliya Çelebi mentions that there were about a hundred houses in the city. Ayasuluk which had declined into a small village began to revive in the beginning of the present century due to roads and railways constructed at that time, but its population was about 1000 in the 1927 population census, and 4025 in 1935. The locality is now called by the name of Selçuk given in 1914.


The city of Ephesus was from centuries back to this day in a state of ruins spread over a very large area. Among* these, the remnants above land of buildings such as the harbour baths and the theatre gave an idea of the splendour of the city. In 1446 a person named Cyriacus from Chios came to Ephesus and searched for the site of the Temple of Artemis with a view to taking possession of the treasures of the temple, but, for all his efforts he could not find it. This problem was only solved in 1869 by John Turtle Wood. The English engineer John Turtle Wood who was working in the construction of the izmir-Aydin railway, a result of the big industrial evolution of the last century, became interested in the ruins in Ephesus while at work in the region. Thereupon he began to search for the site of the Temple of Artemis which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

In May 1863 the English Government received authorization from the Turkish authorities and began research work. In 1866 excavations began in the Harbour Baths, the Theatre and the Odeum. All the excavators had in mind the idea of finding the site of the Temple of Artemis. Although many artifacts were found these findings did not satisfy the excavators. Then one day John Turtle Wood who knew Greek and Latin found among others an inscription which was written by a Roman by the name of C. Vibius Salutaris to honour Artemis. In this inscription there was a definition of the sacred road used in ceremonies made in the name of Artemis.

After one and a half years of research done in the direction of this inscription the surrounding wall of the temple built in 6 BC during the time of the Roman emperor Augustus was found for the first time. And on the last day of 1869 the marble floor of the temple was hit. In 1871 the first columns with relief belonging to the temple were found. While excavations were going on in this way, in 1874 they were stopped because very few pieces of work were found. During this time very many valuable pieces of work were carried to London by warships belonging to the British naval Forces.
Professional excavations were begun in 1895 scientifically by Austrian archaeologists. In 1893 the Austrian Ministry of Culture and Education commissioned Prof. Otto Benndorf to do a widespread excavation. And the Professor chose Ephesus. Prof. Otto Benndorf began excavations in Ephesus on May 20th, 1895 which were continued until 1913 by the Austrian archaeologist R. Heberdey. Within that period the British Museum also sent a team headed by the archaeologist David George to Ephesus to participate in the excavations.

In the excavations carried out in 1904-1905 information relating to the 6th century BC temple was brought to light as well as valuable objects such as personal ornaments and statuettes of bronze, ivory and gold.In 1907 excavations were begun on the Agora, the Marble Street, the Curetes Street and the Church of the Virgin Mary, and in 1908 on the Odeum and the Water Palace. In 1911 research was undertaken on the Stadium. And in 1913 excavations on the Temple of Serapis were begun but then interrupted due to the war.

During the war, in 1921-1922, the Greeks did excavation in the Church of St. John, headed by a person by the name of G.A. Sotirius. Eight years after the end of the war, in 1926, Joseph Keil, the director of the ?zmir Branch of the Austrian Institute of Archaeology began the work again. He gave weight to excavations on the Seven Sleepers, the Vedius Gymnasium, the Harbour and the baths. Between 1931 and 1935 the architect Max Theues and the archaeologist Camillo Praschniker joined Josepn Keil's team and the excavation of the Belevi Monumental Tomb was undertaken. In the autumn of 1935 the excavations were interrupted a second time. In 1954 F. Milltner began the work again for the Austrian Institute of Archaeology. He conducted the excavations around the Odeum and the Municipal Palace (the Prytaneum) for the most part and in 1956 he found the most important Artemis statues of Ephesus in the Municipal Palace. As well as conducting the excavations in a systematic way with modern equipment, F. Miltner also did the restoration of the Temple of Hadrian in 1957. Following the death of F. Miltner in 1959 F. Eichler, the director of the Austrian Institute of Archaeology, took over the work and continued it until 1968. In the course of this period the State Agora, the Basilica, the Isis Temple, the Laecanius Bassus Fountain and the Archaic Necropolis which formed a complex were revealed and excavation on the houses on the slopes was begun. In 1965 the architect Anton Bammer joined the team and began work on the Temple of Artemis and he continues to work at it. In 1968 Hermann Vetters was appointed director of the Austrian Institute of Archaeology. The same year he undertook the task of directing the excavation. During the twenty years that he stayed at this job he ensured the continuance of the excavations by means of organization and knowledge of excavation techniques, with particular attention and priority given to the excavation and restoration of the houses on the slopes. A second important event of this period was the beginning of the restoraton of the Celsus Library in 1970. This building which we look at with admiration today in Ephesus was completed in 1978. The Hofrat Prof. Dr. Gerhard Langmann, head of the Austrian Institute of Archaeology has been directing the excavation since 1988.
Apart from these works excavation and restoration have been continued by the Museum of

Ephesus without interruption since 1970. The work includes:
•    Excavation and restoration of the Church of St. John and surroundings,
•    Restoration of the Church of the Virgin Mary,
•    Excavation and restoration of the 14th century Turkish baths,
•    Excavation and restoration of the street considered the beginning of the King's Road which goes northwards from the corner where the Marble Street and the Harbour Street cross,
•    Restoration of the Hellenistic fountain in front of the Theatre,
•    Restoration of the walls of the west façade of the Theatre.

In 1990 the municipality of Selçuk paid a great courtesy to this work. With the money set aside from the municipality's budget, excavation and restoration on the Odeum and the Prytaneum were begun.


In our day the very first place which the name of Ephesus" makes us think of is the area covered with ruins situated in the valley between the Mountains of Bülbül (Coressus) and Panay?r (Pion). The excavations which have been going on for 125 years have revealed that for 4 thousand years the city was concentrated in localities not far from each other. The little hill to the west of the Vedius Gymnasium is known to be the site selected by Androclus, the founder of the city. Altnough early findings were discovered on this hill none could be dated back to the 10th century which is known as the era in which Androclus lived. In the summer of 1954 a tomb from the Mycenaean period was discovered accidentally during works undertaken for a park in front of the processional door of the Church of St. John. These artifacts which are exhibited today in the hall of the tombs of the Museum of Ephesus were introduced to the world of science as belonging to the 15- 14th centuries BC and it was thought that the earliest history of Ephesus began at this period. However, hand made rough ceramics uncovered in the summer of 1990 to the east of Ayasuluk fortress between walls made of sun-dried bricks and layers of burned material have been dated back to the beginning of the 2nd millenium. Thus, the known history of Ephesus has gone back five hundred years earlier. The Mycenaean findings belong only to a tomb. It is not yet known whether there was a settlement there. However, the existence of settlements belonging to this period on either side of Ephesus along the shore makes one think that the existence of a Mycenaean settlement around the hill on which the tombs stand may be possible. Also, the thesis that Mycenaean settlements concentrated on islands close to the shore or on peninsulas weakly connected to the coast, and the fact that Ayasuluk Hill was a peninsula in the Mycenaean period make it seem probable that there may have been a Mycenaean settlement here.

It is known that Lysimachus, a commander under Alexander, who came to rule in Ephesus in the beginning of the 3rd century BC, forced the Ephesians who lived around the Temple of Artemis to move into the city he had rebuilt between the mountains of Coressus and Pion. Scarcely any remains belonging to this city could be revealed. Accepting that the Temple of Artemis following a very old tradition was erected on top of the hill and that in the present day it remains 8 metres below the surface of the land, we can say that the city surrounding it must lie 15-maybe 20- metres deeper. As this area which lies within the boundaries of the present day district of Selcuk is only about 8 metres above sea level, deep borings are impossible.

Quite probably Emperor Lysimachus had founded the city between the moutains of Coressus and Pion with the purpose of making it the capital of his empire. But his life was spent in wars and the capital never materialised. He had to be content with naming the city after his much beloved wife Arsinoe, but this name was soon dropped also and the name Ephesus which was based on an ancient tradition was adopted again.

Before the empire shared by the successors of Alexander came into the hands of Lysimachus, the latter had naturally seen Alexandria in Egypt, Piraeus in Greece, and Priene and Miletus near Ephesus, and had greatly admired in these cities the straight streets and side streets of which one could see one end from the other. He therefore ordered his achitects to build a city with a grid plan (an hippodamic plan) of which the early examples were seen in Priene and Miletus, and the first implementation was executed by Hippodamus of Miletus. The plan was applied in all its rigidity on the undulating land. Streets and side streets crossing each other at right angles planned beforehand were applied as they were on the ground without paying heed to slopes, valleys or glens. Terraces were made between narrow side streets and thus space for settlement was provided. Religious and social buildings were erected at important crossroads. The construction of the city took more than two hundred years. Magnificent new buildings were added during the reigns of the Emperors Augustus and Hadrian. In 17 AD an earthquake destroyed a considerable part of the buildings. The city was reerected by the orders of Emperor Tiberius. The Emperor's decree for aid and reconstruction was put into the form of an inscription and stood on the most important place of Curetes Street to thank him. A little more than three hundred years later another earthquake (355) destroyed Ephesus. The Ephesians had begun to reconstruct the fallen buildings at a great pace when the earthquake of 358 struck them once again. The restoration of the now also economically weakened city was quite difficult.

However, the Ephesians began to reerect some of the fallen buildings. But Ephesus, though unconquered by wars and always proud of its beauty and riches, suffered still another earthquake in 365. At a time when money- and power-based relations with neighbouring cities had lost their warmth as a result of the weakening of the central rule and the great deterioration in the economy, the Ephesians began the restoration of their city for a last time. The material from the magnificent buildings destroyed was used for new constructions. Columns and pavements of the main street were made of various kinds of cheap material which were not harmonious. Religious quarrels, and the decline of trade because of the almost complete silting up of the harbour quickened the fall of the city. In the 6th century the population was too reduced to defend the extensive city walls. Therefore new walls were constructed and their extent was reduced. Even then, it was difficult to protect the city against brigands attacking from land and sea.

The Ephesians returned again to Ayasuluk Hill where they had originated in the beginning of the 2nd millenium, and the fortress they built on the hill enabled them to live yet a while longer. In the 13th century the Turks, seeing that there was not even a village in the present day Efes, settled directly in the fortress on the hill of St. John. The traveller Ibni Batu who came to the region at the end of that century records that there were Venetian and Genoese consulates in Ephesus and that it was a bishopric. During the period of the Seljuk Turks Ephesus was called Ayasuluk and came to life again. The city of this period developed on both sides of the hill.


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