Forum Archaeologiae - Zeitschrift für klassische Archäologie 4 / VIII / 1997

The Temple, one of the wonders of the world

Ever since antiquity the site´s identification has always been obvious. In the late Bronze Age the name of the site was perhaps Apasa, the capital of the empire Arzawa. Under the first Hellenistic king Lysimachos, the town was called Arsinoeia, but after his death the traditional name was maintained. During the Byzantine times, after the main town was abandoned, the site around the hill, east of the Artemision, was called Ayasoluk, which nowadays is the Turkish town of Selçuk.

During the Mycenean times the hill of Ayasoluk and the Artemision showed remains of occupation. Until now little is known about the Ionian migration period, but since the 8th century BC Ephesus has played an important role within the Ionian civilization. Remains below the lower agora of the Roman town and a peripteros in the central base of the Artemision underline the specific signifiance of the site. Other than the Artemision, little is known about the remains of the 6th and 5th century BC.

Although Ephesus has been visited by many people since the time of Cyriacus of Ancona (1446 AD), archaeological investigations did not begin before the second half of the 19th century. John Turtle Wood began excavating there in 1864 and continued his archaeological work until he discovered the Artemision in January, 1870. Some of the excavated marbles can now be seen in the British Museum. In 1904 and 1905 the British Museum undertook another excavation in the Artemision and D.G. Hogarth discovered the earlier strata of the sanctuary.
The Austrians started their work at Ephesus 1895, an undertaking which continues until this very day having only been interrupted by World Wars I and II. The emphasis of the Austrian research was on the Roman town; however, since 1965 the Artemision has also been included in the activities.

Abb. 1: peripteros 1st period
(from Antike Welt, Sondernr. 27 (1996), fig. 32)
The temple of Artemis is situated outside the Roman town in the plain, near the hill of Ayasoluk and its remains lie partly in the ground water. In the center of the temple a peripteros, with the dimension of 9.50 m wide and 13.30 m long and with 4 x 8 columns, was excavated. Within the cella is a rectangular base surrounded by six column bases in green schist. Beneath it a hoard of jewelry was found, perhaps the necklace for the xoanon (=cult statue). The whole construction is to be dated in the 8th century BC.
The eastern part of the cella was reused in the middle of the 6th century as a foundation for a shrine in marble, perhaps the shelter for a new cult statue. Therefore the electron coins found below its floor give a terminus ante quem of around 560 BC, the year when Croesus gained political power.

Two other large constructions, the temple C, so called by D.G. Hogarth, in the center of the temple, and orthogonal to it the so called hekatompedos in the west, existed before the first big marble temple was erected. The hekatompedos was the first construction at the site made with marble and measured 100 Ionian feet long. The temple C had antae on the west side. This implies that around 600 BC two main cults existed at the site. Numerous votive offerings in gold and ivory, some of them female figurines, as well as the animal bones of the sacrifices, emphasize the special character of the early cults at the site. Pigs were especially common as a sacrifice, more in the central base than on the other locations; however, donkeys, dogs, bears, and lions were also used as a sacrifice to the goddess. Even human sacrifices, called pharmakos by the Lydian poet Hipponax, are archaeologically evident.

The great marble temple, also called temple of Croesus, was 59.93 m wide including the krepidoma; however, its length is not yet known. Eight of the 36 Ionian sculptured columns, which stood at the entrance, and the sima in marble, which was covered by a sculptural frieze, were some of the remainders from the temple which was burnt down in 356 BC. This temple was rebuilt with the same dimensions but on a higher level. Once again some of the pedestals and drums were sculptured. Plinius tells that 127 columns existed and of them 36 were sculptured. Some of the remains of both these columns and the Archaic columns are now in the British Museum.

With the erection of the marble temple of Croesus all earlier cults were suppressed, and the worship of Artemis alone was established.

Abb. 2: altar and temple of Artemis (from U. Muss, SondÖAI 25 (1994) Abb. 55)

An Archaic sacrificial area, consisting of a ramp and two bases with a water pipe made of lead, was surrounded by a courtyard, axial to the temple of Croesus. Their foundations were reused in the 4th century on which a new altar with a screen wall was built. This screen wall was composed of a frieze on a socle and was topped with an Ionian colonnade.

The cella of the second temple of marble was reused as a church in early Byzantine times.

© A. Bammer
(Abstract of Encyclopedia of Near Eastern Archaeology)


Keywords: Artemis, cult Religion, Christentum, Christlich, heidnisch, church, Opfer, Weltwunder, wonder, Tempel, Altar, Britisches Museum, Marmor, Göttin, Gottheit, Kultstatue, Elfenbein, Gold, Münze, Gold, Mykene, Kroisos, Weltwunder, Priester, Alexander der Große, Altar, London, Britisches Museum, Hethiter, Lyder, Ionien, Bank, Ephesus, Tempel