Biblical Ephesus: Harbor Street and Artemis Temple

April 16, 2010

The main street providing access from Ephesus’ harbor to the city is known as the Harbor Street, also the Arcadian Way, after Emperor Flavius Arcadius (reigned A.D. 395-408).  When Paul boarded a ship from Ephesus, or landed at Ephesus and then went into the city, this is the street he would have used.

Harbor Street Ephesus. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Not much is left of the temple of Artemis, what was at one time one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  A lone column remains, with a stork’s nest on the top.  You can see somewhat of the basic rectangular outline of the temple in our photo.

Artemis Temple. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

In the Ephesus Museum one may see some of the Artemis’ statues, such as the one in this photo:

Artemis Statue. Ephesus Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.


Ephesus: Library and Agora

April 15, 2010

One of the more impressive sites at Ephesus is the Celsus Library.  It was originally built in A.D. 110, by Consul Gaius Julius Aquila, in honor of his father, Gaius Julius Celsu Polemaeanus, governor of Asia A.D. 105-107.

Some suggest that the school of Tynannus may have been located to your left (Acts 19:9).
Next we look at the commercial agora (market place), where the craftsmen, including silversmiths and others, would have had their shops.
Apparently it would have been in this area, for example, where Demitrius the silversmith worked.  Luke tells what happened in Acts 19:
24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought a great deal of business to the craftsmen. 25 He gathered these together, along with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity comes from this business. 26 And you see and hear that this Paul has persuaded and turned away a large crowd, not only in Ephesus but in practically all of the province of Asia, by saying that gods made by hands are not gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that this business of ours will come into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be regarded as nothing, and she whom all the province of Asia and the world worship will suffer the loss of her greatness.” (NET)
One lesson which continues to be reinforced as we visit biblical sites is the reliability of the scriptures.  Always remember that the Bible deals with real people, real places, and real events.  The Bible is fact, not fiction!

Scenes from Ephesus

April 14, 2010

As you continue further on Curetes Street, across from the Domitian Square, you see the Memmius Monument. This four sided victory arch was erected by Gaius Memmius, son of Caius and grandson of Sulla, as a memorial of Sulla’s military victory over Mithridates. Mithridates, king of Pontus, had 90,000 troops, while Sulla’s forces numbered only 30,000. The Battle of Chaeronea (in Greece) took place in 86 B.C.  We include this info not because it is directly related to the Bible, but to remind us that numerous struggles and upheavals were occurring as God was working out the unfolding of His plan, as the “fullness of time” for Jesus to come was approaching (Gal. 4:4).

Memmius Monument. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Another structure of interest is the Trajan Fountain, dedicated to the emperor Trajan (reigned A.D. 98-117).  The fountain was built  A.D. 102-104. For what it’s worth, Michael Grant writes, “Trajan was a tall and well-built man, with an air of serious dignity enhanced by early greyness” (The Roman Emperors, p.75).

Trajan Fountain. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

One more Ephesus photo for today is the Hadrian Temple. Emperor Hadrian reigned A.D. 117-138.

Hadrian Temple. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The “Second Revolt” (A.D. 132) of the Jews took place during Hadrian’s reign.  Michael Grant observes,

For Hadrian, whose cosmopolitan outlook was unsympathetic to Jewish separatism, had established a Roman colony and temple in Jerusalem, now renamed Aelia Capitolina after his own Aelian family; and this foundation caused great anger among the Jews, who in 132 broke into open insurrection under an inspiring leader, Simeon Bar Kosiba (nicknamed Bar Kochba, ‘son of a star’).  The rebels took Jerusalem and issued their own coinage, and it took three years to overcome their uprising.  During this period the emperor visited Judaea, once if not twice, and he is likely to have been present when Jerusalem finally fell in 134.  The surviving militants were rounded up at Bethar the following year, and severe measures of reprisal included a total prohibition of circumcision. (ibid.79).


Ephesus Curetes Street

April 11, 2010

We continue to share some photos from the biblical city of Ephesus, the focal point of Paul’s 3rd journey, and one of the seven churches of Asia addressed by the Lord through the Apostle John in the book of Revelation.

When you travel to Turkey in March as my group just did, you take some risk of rain and cold, and we had some of both the first portion of our trip.  On the other hand, usually the sites are not as crowded.  Ephesus is one of the most frequented sites in Turkey, and can be very crowded at times.  Our photo of Curetes Street gives you a good view without throngs of people.

Ephesus Curetes Street. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Curetes Street received its name for the inscriptions  naming the curetes, that is, the priests, of Artemis.  Fountains, monuments, statues and shops would have lined the street.  The street itself measured 11 meters wide.  In the distance in our photo you can see the Celsus Library.

In yesterday’s post we mentioned how Ephesus was named as the Neokoros, the temple keeper.  Ephesus was a center of the Imperial Cult, Caesar worship.  Note the inscription below.

Ephesus Neokoros Inscription. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

In the center of this Grecian inscription in the 3rd line down are the words “Neokoroi” and “Ephesion” (Left click on image for larger view).  Sometimes people think if they could have lived back when Jesus was on earth, or in the days of the apostles, it would have been easier then to be faithful to the Lord.  The reality is that those who lived in the first century and the years immediately following had some very difficult and challenging times, including the pressure to cave in to the worship of the Imperial Cult.

I mentioned previously there is so much to see at Ephesus.  More photos to come!


Domitian’s Temple in Ephesus

April 10, 2010

Today’s photo features the emperor Domitian’s temple in Ephesus.  It was considered a high honor for a city to be designated as the neokoros, the temple warden, and Domitian, Roman emperor A.D. 81-96, granted Ephesus that great “privilege.”

Domitian Temple and Square in Ephesus. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

M. Bredin writes, “The imperial cult in Ephesus became particularly prominent in Domitian’s reign.” (Jesus, Revolutionary of Peace: A Nonviolent Christology in the Book of Revelation p.122). I hope to write more in the future regarding the imperial cult and its implications for early Christians.

To show their gratitude for being designated as the Temple Warden, the Ephesians built a statue of Domitian which stood five meters tall, portions of which may be seen at the Ephesus Museum.

Domitian Statue. Ephesus Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin

The time of writing of the book of Revelation seems to be during the latter part of the reign of Domitian.  Christians were severely persecuted during his regime.  Each of the seven churches were promised great blessings, if they would “overcome.”


Scenes from Ephesus

April 8, 2010

Ephesus was the most important city of the Roman province of Asia.  The Apostle Paul preached here longer than any other city, working here three years during the Third Missionary Journey (Acts 20:31).  The message of the gospel radiated out from this principle city: “…so that all who lived in the province of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10).

The church in Ephesus was one of seven churches specified in Revelation 2-3 as recipients of letters from the Lord.  It is sobering to realize that a church that had such a promising beginning, and continued to have such good traits, had in fact left its first love (Rev. 2:4).

Ephesus today is a remarkable site; so much excavation has been done, and there is so much to see. We want to share some photos in today’s post, as well as others to follow, from last month’s visit to Ephesus.

Ephesus Odeion. Photo by Leon Mauldin

The seating of this small theater, the odeion, is 1400-1500. It was built by Publius Vedius Antoninus ca. A.D. 150.  It was used for concerts, and as a meeting place for the city council meetings.

Next we make our way to the prytaneion.

Ephesus Prytaneion_Town Hall. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The prytaneion was the government agora, the town hall.  There was a courtyard in front of the building. There is evidence of a former temple of the Egyptian god Isis on the western side. Lance Jenott, University of Washington, says further of this site, “This Agora (usually translated as “market place” but in this case more of a “town square”) was built in the first century CE under the Flavian Emperors as the site of the Roman state cult. In the middle of the State Agora sat the temple of Divius Julius (Divine Julius Caesar) and Dea Roma (the divine personification of the Roman Empire).”

More to come!