Ancient Greek city of Asia Minor, near the mouth of
the Menderes River, in what is today West Turkey, South of Smyrna (now Izmir).
One of the greatest of the Ionian cities, it became the leading seaport of the
region. Its wealth was proverbial.
The great temple of Artemis, or Artemis, called by the
Romans the temple of Diana, was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the
World. From c.100 B.C. to c. A.D. 100 Ephesus was the world capital of the slave
The city was sacked by the Goths in A.D. 262, and the temple was destroyed. The
seat of a church council in 431, Ephesus was abandoned after the harbour silted
up. Excavations (1869-74) of the ruins of the temple brought to light many
artefacts. Later excavations uncovered important Roman and Byzantine remains.
In a Christian version of a widespread story, martyrs immured in a cave near
Ephesus during the persecutions by Decius (c.250). Long afterward, in the 5th
cent., they awoke (as from sleep) and were taken before Theodosius II, Roman
emperor of the east. Their story reassured the emperor, who had been wavering in
his faith. The youths returned to their cave, to sleep again until Judgment. The
story, thought to be of Syrian origin, was popularized by Gregory of Tours.
The site is large. In fact, Ephesus contains the largest
collection of Roman ruins East of the Mediterranean. Only an estimated 15% has
been excavated. The ruins that are visible give some idea of the city's original
splendour, and the names associated with the ruins are evocative of its former
life. The theatre dominates the view down Harbour Street which leads to the long