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Ephesus - Photos


The Arcadian road. Photo Jona Lendering.

Ephesus (Selçuk): ancient Greek town in western Turkey, one of the largest and best excavated cities of the ancient world.

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According to a legend that may contain an element of truth, an Athenian prince named Androclus led Greek settlers to Ephesus. The Greeks believed that it was a new foundation, but the city was older: Hittite texts call it Abasa, and this city, the capital of a kingdom named Mirâ, may have existed in 1600 BCE. The site has been identified near the hill that is now dominated by the Church of Saint John.

2000 years after the founding of Abasa, the road on the first photowas built: the Arcadian road, seen from the top of the theater. Over here, you can see it on a satellite photo.
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The Arcadian road and the theater of Ephesus. Photo Marco Prins. The Arcadian road, which is named after the emperor Arcadius (395-408). In the background the theater. Much of the history of early Ephesus is unrecorded. We know, however, that Cimmerians destroyed the Greek settlement in the seventh century BCE; later, it was added to the Lydian kingdom of Croesus. After c.547, it belonged to the Persian empire. There is hardly any archaeological evidence for this age.
The Arcadian road. Photo Marco Prins. The Arcadian road again. Ephesus became important when Lysimachus, one of the successors of Alexander the Great, chose to make it his capital. He wanted to be buried in the neighborhood, in the Belevi mausoleum. The city now grew rapidly and became the seat of the governor of the Roman province Asia. Almost everything we see today, dates back to this period.
Four honorific columns along the Arcadian road, said to be dedicated to the four evangelists. Photo Marco Prins. Four columns along the Arcadian road, said to be dedicated to the four evangelists. It is not true, but the identification was not a bad guess, because Ephesus was an important city in the history of Christianity. Paul taught in its synagogue and got himself into trouble when he attacked the cult of Artemis (below). In 431, a Council was organized at Ephesus, where it was decided that Mary was the mother of Christ as God (and not of Christ as man).
The theater of Ephesus. Photo Marco Prins. The theater of Ephesus. Here, the apostle Paul had to defend himself against accusations of atheism.

A satellite photo of the theater can be found here.


The theater of Ephesus. Photo Jona Lendering. The theater of Ephesus. Its construction was started in the hellenistic age, but the Ephesians made a beginning with its renewal during the reign of the emperor Claudius (41-54). Under Nero (54-68), the stage was constructed. The decorations can be dated to the reign of Trajan (98-117). The theater of Ephesus. About 24,000 people could find a seat and watch the spectacles.



Theater decoration. Ephesos Museum, Vienna (Austria). Photo Jona Lendering. The Austrian archaeologists who started to excavate Ephesus in 1895, took several parts of the decoration of the ancient city to Europe (in 1906), where they are put on display on the lovely Ephesos Museum in Vienna, a series of quiet exposition rooms in the former palace of the Habsburg emperors. These two parts of the decoration of the theater show erotes (cupids) during a hunting scene.
Theater decoration. Ephesos Museum, Vienna (Austria). Photo Jona Lendering. A mythological battle scene.
Theater decoration. Ephesos Museum, Vienna (Austria). Photo Jona Lendering. A garland with three masks of a type that ancient actors were accustomed to use.
A relief of a retiarius, near the theater of Ephesus. Photo Svenja Grosser. A relief of a hoplomachus, near the theater of Ephesus. Photo Svenja Grosser. A relief of retiarius, from the basilica of Selçuk. Photo Svenja Grosser.
The theater of Ephesus. Photo Marco Prins. The above reliefs of gladiators may have belonged to the decoration of the theater as well (cf. the theater of Miletus). The fighter to the left represents a retiarius ("net fighter"); the one in the center is a hoplomachus ("shield fighter"). Both were photographed by Svenja Grosser in the street near the theater. The picture to the right, another photo by Miss Grosser, was taken in the basilica of nearby Selçuk, and shows a retiarius as well.

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© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2004
Revision: 23 July 2012
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