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|Selçuk gallery 1
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Selçuk. Ruins of the Temple of Artemis (3rd century BC) under water.
|Temple of Artemis
Continued from the previous page.
The Ephesians started work on a new, even more magnificent Ionic temple soon after, completing it in the early 3rd century BC. This is the structure whose remains we see today.
Alexander the Great sacrificed at the building site of the temple when he passed through Ephesus in 334 BC and offered to pay for its completion himself, but the Ephesians politely refused his offer.
This enormous building was around 105 metres long, 55 metres wide and 20 metres tall, with a roof supported by 127 columns. It was plundered by Nero, and then destroyed by the Goths when they sacked Ephesus in 262-263 AD. It was later apparently partly rebuilt, but allegedly destroyed again in 401 AD on the order of Saint John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople and great opponent of the pagan religions. 
What little remained was finally abandoned and left to rot after the cult of Artemis was supplanted by Christianity. Over the centuries its remains were used as building material by the Byzantines, who took many of the temple's columns for the construction of Aghia Sophia in Constantinople.
Much later still some the archaic temple's reliefs and decorated columns, one of which thought to have been designed by Scopas, were taken to the British Museum (see photo below).
Because of the extensive excavations here by British archaeologists, begun in 1869 by John Turtle Wood (1821-1890), locals named the site of the temple "the British hollow".
Marble Roman copy of a statue
made for the Temple of Artemis,
Ephesus around 440-430 BC,
perhaps by Polykleitos of Argos.
Found in Rome.
Pergamon Museum, Berlin.
Inv. No. Sk 7.
A relief of a wounded Amazon
in this pose, part of a marble
frieze (350 BC) from the altar
of Artemis, is in the Ephesus Museum, Selçuk.
Inv. No. I 811. Height 65 cm.
A coin from the reign of Hadrian (117-138 AD) showing the statue of Artemis in the Artemision.
John Turtle Wood, Discoveries at Ephesus, page 266. Longmans, Green and Co., London, 1877.
The remains of the altar of the Temple of Artemis (3rd century BC).
The foundation of the Temple of Artemis lie beneath the current water table and are often
submerged in water, as in this photo, taken after heavy spring heavy rain in April 2004.
A marble column drum of the later Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, circa 340-320 BC.
Discovered during the excavations of the British archaeologist John Turtle Wood in 1871.
|Around the column drum, the best preserved of the temple, is a sculpted relief of seven figures, two of which have been destroyed. The three figures in the photo above seem to be the focus of the group. A woman is flanked by two male figures. To her left, the naked, winged youth with a sheathed sword at his side is thought to be Thanatos (Death). The figure to her right is clearly Hermes as Psychopompos (guide of souls to the underworld, see the Hermes page in the MFP Peeople section), with his caduceus in his right hand and a petasos (wide-brimmed sun hat) hanging behind his head. The theme of the scene appears to be the death of the woman, whose identity is unknown, but is thought to be one of the tragic heroines of Greek myth, perhaps Eurydike, Alkestis or Iphigenia.
British Museum, London. Inv. No. GR 1872.8-3.9 (Cat. Sculpture 1206).
Height 1.84 metres, diameter 1.97 metres.
Image source: Ludwig Curtius (1874-1954), Die antike Kunst Band II, Tafel XXXI.
Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft Athenaion M.B.H., Wildpark-Potsdam, 1926.
Reliefs of Hermes on Kuretes Street, Ephesus, on Ephesus gallery 1, page 9.
Local workers excavating the Artemision during the 1895 campaign
of the Austrian Archaeological Institute, directed by Otto Benndorf.
|Notes, references and links
1. Saint John Chrysostom's part in the destruction of the Temple of Artemis
Many internet sources slavishly copy each other in citing John Freely as writing that the Temple of Artemis was destroyed "by a mob led by St. John Chrysostom" (John Freely, The western shores of Turkey: discovering the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, 2004). John Freely is an acknowleged expert on Turkish history, and can be usually depended on for accurate, interesting and well-written information. However, we have so far found no other reference to Chrysostom's direct action in the destruction. In his splendid book The companion guide to Turkey (1979), Freely makes no mention of this incident.
John Chrysostomos (Ἰωάννης ὁ Χρυσόστομος, circa 349-407 AD) was given the surname "golden-mouthed" because of his eloquence. Born at Antioch, he was Patriarch (Archbishop) of Constantinople circa 397-403 AD.
Chrysostomos visited Ephesus in early 401 on the invitation of several bishops in order to settle church disputes. After deposing six bishops, passing judgement on another and appointing a new archbishop, he returned to Constantinople.
See James Hannam's discussion of reports by early church authors in The destruction of the Temple of Artemis. bedejournal, June 2010.
He points out, among other things, that the report of Chrysostomos' visit to Ephesus in Palladius’ Life of Chrysostom, Book 14, does not mention the Temple of Artemis, and that accounts by other authors of involvement by Chrysostomos or other early Christians in the destruction of the temple (for example a legend in the apocryphal Acts of John) are vague or questionable at best.
|Map, photos and articles: © David John
Additional photos: © Konstanze Gundudis
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Some of the information and photos in this guide to Selçuk
originally appeared in 2004 on davidjohnberlin.de.
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