Ephesus tour

History of EPHESUS

According to tradition, the founder of Ephesus was Androklos, one of the sons of the legendary King Kodros, though Lelegians and Carians inhabited the area earlier. Like the other Ionian settlements, the city must have been colonised by the 10thcentury B.C. at the latest. On reaching this spot, the Greeks found that the mother goddess Kybele held sway as chief deity, as in almost every part of Anatolia. In order to placate the indigenous peoples, they adopted a policy of syncretism and introduced the worship of Artemis and Kybele in the same deity. The original settlement is thought to have been established 1,200m. west of the Artemision, at the port of Koressos. In the beginning Ephesus was ruled by kings, then by an oligarchy of aristocrats and later by tyrants. During the first half of the 7thcentury B.C., the Cimmerians seized Ephesus, and it only began to develop about the middle of the same century. Towards the middle of the 6thcentury it came under the sovereignty of Lydia. Judging by the columnae caelatae Kroisos presented to the temple, cordial relations existed between Lydia and Ephesus. However, the Ephesians had to leave their strongly fortified city in the port of Koressos and settle in the neighbourhood of the Artemision. As this second settlement lies below water level today, it has not been possible to excavate any remains except those of the temple of Artemis. After the death of Alexander, Ephesus, together with the whole of Ionia, fell into the hands of Lysimachos, who had the foresight to re-establish the city on the northern slopes of Mt. Koressos (Bülbüldağ) and on the southern and western slopes of Mt. Pion (Panayırdağ) within a large area enclosed by a city wall having a height of 10 m. and a perimeter of 9 km. The stretch of wall exhibiting fine stone craftsmanship seen today on the side of Bülbüldağ, i.e., Mt. Koressos, is part of the city wall still standing Lysimachos ensured the growth of population in Ephesus by forcing the people of Kolophon and Lebedos to reside there. Indeed, in a short space of time Ephesus became the most densely populated city in Anatolia. In Hellenistic times, Ephesus was administered by the Seleucids and after 190 B.C. was governed by the Pergamene kings. Ephesus came under the joint rule of the Kingdom of Pergamon and the Romans and, till 133 B.C. like the other cities in Asia Mino, was heavily taxed during the time of Julius Caesar; but in Augustus’s reign, there began a period lasting two hundred years during which Ephesus passed through its most glorious and happy times. According to Aristeides, who lived about 150 A.D., Ephesus was the most prosperous commercial centre of that time and controlled the banking affairs of the whole of Western Anatolia. The city of Ephesus was ancient history for strife and upheaval, lasting throughout the 3rdcentury A.D. and subsequently to the middle of the 4thcentury, Ephesus entered into a second golden age which continued until the Justinian era (527- 565 A.D.). With the rapid expansion of Christianity in the area, many important and beautiful buildings came into being. The castle at Ayasoluk and the church of St. John within it were erected during this period. Ephesus reached a further period of prosperity in the Seljuk era during the 14thcentury. In this time, the city occupied the area where the Ayasoluk Castle and the present-day town of Selçuk now stand. With the rise of the Ottomans, the city began to decline and has survived as the small county town of Selçuk.

The British archaeologist J.T. Wood undertook the first excavation at Ephesus in 1869, when the Artemision was discovered. He was succeeded from 1895 – 1913 by Austrian scholars, who found remains of the city dating from Hellenistic and Roman times as a result of their extensive digs on the slopes of Mt. Koressos (Bülbüldağ) and Mt.Pion (Panayirdağ). The Austrians continued to bring to light this richest and best preserved of the ancient cities in Turkey both after the First World War, with Josef Keil in charge of the project, and also following the Second World War, when Franz Miltner directed operations. 

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