The Prytaneum

This is the building at the west end of the Odeum and of which a part of the thick columns have been reerected. The Prytaneum was the edifice where the executive council (Prytanes) ruling Ephesus had their meetings, ate their meals, received official guests and honoured them. It was also called the municipality building. The head of the executive committee was called the Prytan and was selected from among the elite families of Ephesus. He had also to be rich because he would pay for most of the expenditures relating to the city from his own budget. The Prytan's essential task was to watch over the cults in the city, to organize the ceremonies and to continue the social life of the city. Furthermore, he had to see that the sacred hearth of Hestia situated in the middle of the building was kept burning perpetually. This hearth was kept alive representing all the hearths in Ephesus.

The square shaped area made of darker stones in the hall of the building is the place of the sacred hearth. The famous statues of Artemis on display in the Museum of Ephesus were found buried in the Prytaneum. It is understood that at the time of the Iconoclasts the Prytaneum was destroyed but that the destroyers did not dare touch the statues of Artemis.

The Prytaneum, with its façade of six thick columns, had the aspect of a Doric temple. There were double columns in the corners of the main hall in the middle of which stood the sacred hearth. The surrounding buildings served the functions of the Prytaneum.

The inscriptions on the columns are the lists of names of the Curetés. The order of priests called the Curetés who were formerly in the temple of Artemis were later given a place in the Prytaneum.
The Prytaneum was built in the 1st century BC. Restoration is going on at present.
 

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