Ephesus


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Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Ephesus
November 4th 2011
Published: November 4th 2011
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Finally, I can say I've been to Ephesus. And it was worth it all. I've seen ruins in Italy, Crete and other places but they still amaze me. Even though only 20% of the city has been unearthed, that 20% shows the advancements of the Romans and Greeks over 2000 years ago.

Ephesus is one of 5 most important cities in the ancient world. With a population of over 250,000 at it's height, it contained one of 7 wonders of the ancient world and had the 3rd largest library behind Alexandria and Pergamum (which we see tomorrow).

Like Troy (which we will also see tomorrow), Ephesus was built several times. Unlike Troy, it was built in different locations. The first was founded by one of Achilles' generals after the Trojan war. Legend has it he had a dream in which the god Hermes told him he will find the place for his city by a fish and a boar. Mdays later cooking a fish, a wild boar showed and he killed it. That's where he built the first Ephesus.

We visited the 3rd Ephesus, which dates from the 3rd century ACE. This is the Ephesus St. John and St. Paul visited, the Ephesus of the 7 churches in Revelations. It is said the Virgin Mary came here to live when John came. The foundations of a small house at the top of a hill were rediscovered in the early 1900's based on a dream by a German nun. The Catholics officially recognize as true with the blessing of St. Paul VI. We went to see this first before entering the "midtown" of Ephesus.

Ephesus was the capital of the Asia Minor portion of the Roman Empire from the 1st to 4th century ACE. Originally this Ephesus was a harbor of the Agean Sea, however based on silt build, up the Agean is about 6 miles away now. When you walk down the main street, it slopes downward to the huge library at the end and you can almost the Agean directly behind. It must have been an amazingly beautiful site.

They've discovered the original clay pipes that the Romans used for supplying both clean and removing sewage water to the fields for irrigation. Pretty clever, huh?

In the 2nd century Christianity was illegal but there were Christians there in hiding and staying secret. They had special symbols to communicate with each other and we saw a few still visible in the marble.

We saw the a little theater, only holds 14,000, called a stoa where young men recently graduated from the gymnasium came here for philosophical discussions (this is where the word stoic comes from). But they played games and we saw a game like backgammon inscribed in a marble slate.

We saw the holes in the street made to hold torches for light at night. We saw the road sign carved on the side of a marble column with a snake repressing the way to the hospital. They did find a cemetery right behind the hospital with skulls with holes in them from surgery. Guess it wasn't a very successful hospital.

There was the Hercules gate at the top of Curetes street, the Rodeo Drive of Epheus with the finer shops. There were also private homes along the street, sort of condos (7 levels of them), with the business on the ground floor and homes above. Original mosaics are visible on the floors of these shops. Rooms of a home were decorated according to the use of the room, like fruit mosaics for the kitchen and porno scenes for the bedroom.

We ended up at the Celsus Library. Only 10% of what is displayed is original but it allows us to see how incredible beautiful it was when it held the 12,000 scrolls. Archaeologists found a tunnel underneath leading to a building across the street. The original thought was this was some sort of brothel and men snuck over while pretending to be at the library. Good story but it actually turned out to be a separate library for government type documents. Four statues are at the front of the library representing Knowledge, Wisdom, Fate and Bravery. The original statues are in Vienna. When Turkey asked for them back, they replied we are taking good care of them and sent them replicas.

Finally we headed out of main town through the south agora or market to see the 3rd largest theater in the world. Dating from 125 ACE, it held 25,000 people.

Once back on the bus, we drove by location of the Temple of Artemis or Diana, one of the 7 wonders. Unfortunately, only one column is standing. Other columns were taken and placed in Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

And of course, we saw many requisite cats along the way. They are just too cute climbing all over the ruins.


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