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Mare Nostrum

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

by E.S.

Important facts about the Temple:

    The Temple of Artemis was the third oldest wonder. It was built in 560 BCE to honor the Greek goddess Artemis on the site of an ancient shrine in Ephesus (King 12). It was also known as "the great marble temple" or "temple D" (Ashmawy). The construction of the Temple was funded by King Croesus of Lydia and it was designed by the Greek architect, Chersiphron (Silverberg 67). It was revolutionary in design and later became a model for Greek architects (King 12).

    The Temple was said to have rivaled the Parthenon in size and fame (King 12). It measured 377 by 180 feet and had 106 columns, each measuring about 40 feet tall, which were placed in a double row around the center of the temple (Pathak).

    It was made from expensive and rare materials (Ashmawy, King 12). The roof of the Temple, according to Pliny, was "wholly constructed of planks of cedar" (Ashmawy). The Temple was made of marble and was ornamented inside and outside with gold, nearly overflowing with treasures. (King 12)

What the Temple was used for:

    The Temple was not only a religious establishment, but a marketplace as well. People came to sell their wares, and still more came to buy them (Ashmawy). Visitors from all around came to the Temple.

    • Pilgrims

    • Merchants

    • Tourists

    • Artisans

    • Peasants

    • Kings (Ashmawy)

    These people were attracted to the Temple by its splendor and beauty (Ashmawy). They came to see the Temple's most famous treasure, the huge statue of Artemis, and to worship and pay homage to the goddess (Ashmawy, King 12). One such visitor, Antipater of Sidon, commented on the Temple's beauty:

    . . . But when I saw the sacred house of Artemis that towers to the clouds, the [other wonders] were placed in the shade, for the Sun himself has never looked upon its equal outside Olympus. (qtd. in Ashmawy)

The destructions and reconstructions of the Temple of Artemis:

  • The First Destruction:

    The Temple of Artemis was first destroyed on July 21, 356 BCE. A man named Herostratus burned the Temple to the ground in a successful venture to immortalize his name (Ashmawy). Since Alexander the Great was born on the same night, the Roman historian Plutarch rationalized that Artemis was "too busy taking care of the birth of Alexander to send help to her threatened temple" (Ashmawy).

    The Temple was rebuilt, ironically, with the financial assistance of Alexander the Great. This rebuilt Temple is known as "temple E" by archaeologists.

  • The second destruction:

    The Temple was destroyed again by the Goths in CE 262, and was again rebuilt (Ashmawy).

  • The final destruction:

    By the 4th century CE, most of the Ephesian population had converted to Christianity, causing the Temple to lose its religious attraction. In CE 401, Saint John Chrysostom had the building torn down. Ephesus was later deserted (Ashmawy).

The results of recent archaeological digs in Ephesus:

    Excavation of Ephesus has revealed the foundation of the great Temple (Ashmawy). Some attempts have been made to rebuild it again, but so far, only a few columns have been raised (Ashmawy). Hopefully, people will be able to see it reconstructed for the third time in the future.

    History and Thought of Western Man
    Rich East High School * Park Forest, IL 60466

    This page was created by E.S. Last revised 05/12/00.

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