Temple of Artemis
The famous Temple of Artemis built in Ephesus is regarded as one of ‘the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World’. The temple dedicated to Goddess Artemis, the Ephesus’ ‘Mother Goddess of Fertility’ was rebuilt many a times throughout its long history. The flat area on which the temple was originally built eventually turned into a swamp and one can only witness the ruins of its foundations now. A single column has been erected on the actual location of the temple to remind visitors of the place where this wonder of the ancient world once stood.
A Short History of the Temple of Artemis
The first of the constructions dates back to the 8th century BC on a marshy strip of land by the River Cayster in modern day Anatolia, Turkey. Artemis, the Ephesus goddess of fertility also known as Diana is different from Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunting. This earliest temple is said to have contained a sacred stone, possibly a meteorite that had fallen from Jupiter.
The next reconstruction was in 600 BC, and this time on a larger note. The city was flourishing as a major port and no expense was too big to complete the construction at that time. The high stone columns were the dominant feature of the shrine. However, even this construction was damaged in 550 BC during the conquering of Ephesus by King Croesus of Lydia. Probably a heavy flood at about the same time completely destroyed the temple.
King Croesus, later on liberally funded for the reconstruction of the shrine. The next reconstruction was 300 feet long and 150 feet wide, and had over 100 stone columns to support the massive roof. This huge temple was the city’s pride until 356 BC. Even this building was destroyed by fire put to the temple by one young miscreant of Ephesus.
Construction of the Great Temple
Shortly after this, the new temple was built and Pliny the Elder, the Roman historian admired at this temple as “Wonderful monument of Grecian magnificence, and one that merits our genuine admiration”. With 127 huge columns, the temple housed many artworks and was 425 feet in length and 225 feet in width. This was even bigger than Parthenon that stands on the Acropolis in Athens today. The raids by Goths eventually destroyed the grand building and after this the history of the temple is obscure. The rise of Christianity, consistent earthquakes, floods and silting of the area might have eventually subdued any further attempts of reconstruction of the temple. The temple stones were used by the locals to build their homes and thus the grand temple finally fell into ruins.
The Temple of Artemis Today
The ruins of Temple of Artemis are located near the historical city of Ephesus, in Izmir District near Kusadasi. This ancient site in western Anatolia is a paradise of history and a major tourist destination. Ephesus & the temple of Artemis can be reached easily from many of the major cities in Turkey.