The city of Ephesus was one of the largest Greek port cities located on the west coast of Asia Minor. Its current location is in modern day Turkey. During the Roman occupation of Ephesus, the city swelled to over 250,000 people, making it the 2nd largest city in the Roman Empire and the world.
Around the 7th century B.C., the Temple of Artemis was built on sacred grounds for the Greek goddess Artemis. Artemis was the twin of Apollo and daughter to Zeus and Leto. She represented abundance, hunting and all things wild. Citizens would find refuge, safety and comfort in the temple. Based on recent archeologist’s findings, evidence shows a flood destroyed the original Temple of Artemis. The original location was located in a swampy area known to flood, but the continued use of the site leads many researchers to believe the ground to be sacred.
Approximately two centuries later in 550 B.C., the Temple of Artemis was rebuilt by King Croesus of Lydia. Croesus employed Cretan architect Chersiphron and his son Metagenes to design and construct the new Temple of Artemis. It measured between 350 and 377 feet long by 175 and 180 feet wide. To relate its size to modern perspective, the layout of the Temple was longer and wider than a standard size football field. The Temple of Artemis was considered the first Greek style temple to made completely of marble. It was built with more than 100 marble columns standing 40 feet high. The entire project took over 120 years to complete. The new Temple of Artemis was a popular place and the Ephesians cherished their work or art. Kings and travelers would bring gold and jewelry as they worshipped Artemis in her Temple. The temple was destroyed on July 21, 356 B.C. by Herostratus. He wanted make a name for himself, so he set the roof beams on fire, burning the temple down. Herostratus was put to death for his crime and no one was allowed to speak his name.In 323 B.C., Alexander the Great offered money to assist in rebuilding the Temple of Artemis, but the Ephesians respectfully declined his offer. Instead, they rebuilt the temple for a third time. The 3rd temple was larger than the prior two temples laying at 450 feet long by 225 feet wide and standing over 60 feet tall. The new temple had over 127 columns. In 268 A.D., the temple was partially destroyed by Goths when they raided the city. Once again the temple was rebuilt only to be completely destroyed by John the apostle when he incited and angry mob and destroyed the temple in the name of Christianity.
The British Museum paid for an excavation team to search for the Temple of Artemis. The team, led by John Turtle Wood, discovered the site in 1869. Pieces of the dig were taken back to Britain and placed on display. More recent excavations in 1987 revealed the flood, which destroyed the first temple.
Quick facts & Figures
Discovered By: John Turtle Wood
Originally Built: 700 BC
1st Time Rebuilt: 550 BC
Columns: Over 100
2nd Time Rebuilt: 300 BC
Columns: Over 127