Temple of Serapis

Coming out of the west gate of the Agora, a stepped road on the left led to the temple. This road is not excavated at present. Of the shops to the south of the Agora, the one farthest out was the second road leading to the temple. This is the road used today.

Roman religions did not promise a life after death. Egyption religions inferred reincarnation. Therefore Egyptian religions were also estemed in Ephesus. A temple of Isis was constructed in the Upper Agora and a Temple of Serapis in the vicinity of the Mercantile Agora lower down.

The Temple of serapis consisting of a naos and a pronaos was in the form of a typical prostyle. It was built of large blocks of marble of which the weight would be 40-50 tons at first sight. This is a most significant particularity of Egyptian religious buildings. The monolithic columns with Corinthian capitals had a diameter of 1.5 metres. The door of the edifice had two wings and was very wide. As the opening and closing of such big and heavy doors would be difficult, rollers were placed under them. The trace in the form of an arc visible on the stylobate was produced by the movement to and fro of the roller.

It is understood that in front of the building there was a courtyard of a length of 160 metres with columns on the sides. The unfinished state of certain construction materials here and in the close vicinity of the edifice show that the Temple of Serapis was not completed.

Trades relations between Egypt and Ephesus had begun before the Hellenistic period and many works of art were brought to Ephesus from Egypt. The foundation of Alexandria togeher with the beginning of the Hellenistic period brought the relations between Egypt and Ephesus to a climax. And although these relations were restricted during the reign of the Emperor Augustus they were revived in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Depicted in a treaty document on display in the Musuem of Ephesus was a wreath with on one side the greatest goddess of Ephesus, Artemis, and on the other the greatest god of Egypt, Serapis. The god and the godess must have been witnesses to the treaty.

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