March 17, 2022 7 min read
Did you know that The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus may have been the first-ever building that was constructed of Marble! It was built by Architect Chersiphron which was located in Seluck/İzmi, Turkey. He had designed a lot of Greek temples too. The temple has been an attraction to people all over the world and people travel great lengths to explore this monument.
The Temple of Artemis was built to honour Artemis, the Olympian goddess of the moon and hunt. This temple is considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was situated through the marshes to the southwest of Ayasuluk Hill. The cult of Artemis in Ephesus had a powerful following. During the Roman period, prominent generals and politicians would come to Ephesus to offer sacrifices to the statue of the goddess Artemis, also known as Diana. Although many other gods were worshipped at Ephesus, Artemis was by far the most important deity in the 1st century.
The cult of Artemis in Ephesus goes back hundreds of years even before the Greeks. The great temple was built by Croesus, king of Lydia, about 550 BC and was rebuilt in 356 BC. Local myth says that Artemis was away helping Olympias give birth to Alexander The Great when the fire broke out. Allegedly, that’s why Artemis was unable to protect her shrine from destruction.
The Temple of Artemis, Ephesus, Turkey is surrounded by theories and mysteries from centuries ago. According to Pliny, the Temple of Artemis was situated on a platform about 425 by 239 feet. The temple itself was around 342 by 163 feet, with 127 columns that were 60 feet tall and over 6 feet thick. 36 of these columns were sculptured and overlaid with gold. The Temple was built northeast of the city on marshy soil to protect the structure from earthquakes. At one time, the waves of the Mediterranean could come right up to one side of the temple.
There had already been several versions of the temple over the centuries at Ephesus, and Herodotus describes the Ephesians tying a rope 1243 meters long between the old temple and the city and as it turned out futile hope that their dedication of the entire city to Artemis would save them from the Lydians. The decorative frieze of the temple carries scenes involving Amazons, who were, in Greek mythology, supposed to have sought shelter at Ephesus from Hercules. The architrave blocks above the columns are estimated to have weighed 24 tons each, and the feat of engineering that put them in place led to the Ephesians believing it was the work of Artemis herself. According to sources, the cult statue of Artemis which stood within the temple (and for which the whole project was started) was made of cedarwood.
The Temple of Artemis was not forgotten, and a tradition sprang up in medieval times that some of the columns of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople were looted from it, but the noted Byzantine specialist Cyril Mango points out that this idea is absurd. Certainly, blocks from the temple were reused in many buildings at Ephesus, a common practice in antiquity.
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