Saturday, February 4, 2017

Ephesus: A City At The Crossroads Of Ancient Cultures

Just laying around the ancient city of Ephesus.

In the 1st millennium BC ancient Greece expanded its boundaries, spreading across the Aegean towards Italy and modern day Turkey, then known as Ionia. Numerous great cities were built by the Grecian empire and one of these was Ephesus. It flourished in the 2nd century BC, and when the Greek empire waned the Romans rebuilt it and again the city thrived. Estimates put the population at its heyday at about a quarter of a million. The city was well planned, with aqueducts to provide water to numerous wells situated throughout. Ephesus was a crossroads of cultures, and here you would find settlers, travellers and traders from India, Persia, Egypt and beyond. As well as materials ideas travelled with these peoples and you can  imagine that Ephesus was a vibrant and hectic place, with wide boulevards, numerous temples and huge amphitheatre with a 25,000 seating capacity. 

The theatre at Ephesus from below.

It must have been incredible to watch a performance here!

The patron goddess was Artemis though a profusion of deities and philosophies thrived within the city walls. Even the apostle Paul preached there, only to be ousted by angry traders and craftsman who saw the notion of a one-god as a threat to the flourishing trade in Artemis statuettes. I suppose if they could have foreseen the religious fervour of the evangelists and their derivatives they might have started fashioning crosses! Icons! Perhaps in time they did. 

Another view of the ancient ruins.
This symbol appears throughout the Roman Empire

In the Autumn of 2012 I took a boat from the island of Samos and entered Turkey. I remained there for a month and walked some of the Lycian way. I also had a chance to visit Ephesus. The site is extensive to say the least and busy -  thousands of tourists visit the site, but that’s cool, because it would have been a city of noise, the murmuring voices of people, the hawks and cries of vendors and preachers, prophets and philosophers. So far only about 15% of the site has been excavated, and much of what remains is the Roman city. It remains a pilgrimage site for Christians  because St Paul's connection to the city (he was there twice). 

As a lover of history and stone-carving Ephesus was inspirational for me. I've posted some of my photographs and a couple of Youtube links for those wishing to find out a little more. 

The Ancient Library was built by the Romans in the 2nd c. AD
This carving could have been outside an armourers. 

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