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Temple of Artemis

Ancient Wonders of Earth


Temple of Artemis


The Temple of Artemis was a magnificent place of worship in the city of Ephesus in present-day Turkey, dedicated to Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt. Although earlier destroyed and rebuilt, it was completed, in its most famous phase, around 550 B.C.E. under the Achaemenid dynasty of the Persian Empire. It was rebuilt again several centuries later and endured into the end of the fourth century C.E. It is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The temple was described by Philo of Byzantium:

I have seen the walls and Hanging Gardens of ancient Babylon, the statue of Olympian Zeus, the Colossus of Rhodes, the mighty work of the high Pyramids and the tomb of Mausolus. But when I saw the temple at Ephesus rising to the clouds, all these other wonders were put in the shade.

The temple became a worship center for people of all faiths from many lands, including a sect of Ephesians who worshiped Cybele, the Greek Earth Mother goddess. It was also known as the Temple of Diana, the equivalent Roman goddess to Artemis. The temple was said to be a fantastic structure made of marble, with gold and silver decoration and the finest art and statuary of the age. It was burned down on July 21, 356 B.C.E. by agents of a man called Herostratus, who reportedly sought worldwide fame by destroying the world's most beautiful building. It was later rebuilt several times. Its ultimate destruction occurred at the hands of a Christian mob led by St. John Chrysostom, then archbishop of Ephesus, in 401 C.E.


Seven Wonder of The Ancient World-Temple of Artemis


October 25, 2008


Test holes have confirmed the temple site was occupied as early as the Bronze Age. Included in the find were layers of pottery that extended forward to later times, when the clay-floored, classical temple, surrounded by a single row of columns, was constructed in the second half of the eighth century B.C.E. The temple at Ephesus was the earliest known example of a colonnaded temple on the coast of Asia Minor, and perhaps the earliest Greek temple anywhere surrounded by colonnades.

In the seventh century, a flood destroyed the temple, depositing over 1.6 feet of sand and scattering flotsam over the former floor of hard-packed clay. In the flood debris were the remains of a carved, ivory plaque of a griffin, the fabled monster with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion, and the Tree of Life, apparently North Syrian. More importantly, flood deposits, buried in place a precious find against the north wall that included drilled amber, tear-shaped drops with elliptical cross-sections, which had once dressed the wooden image of the Lady of Ephesus. Bammer (1990) notes that the flood-prone site was raised about six and one-half feet between the eight and sixth centuries B.C.E., and almost eight feet between the sixth and the fourth centuries B.C.E. This indicates that the site itself must have had sacred meaning, since it would have been easier to move the temple

The Great Temple

The new and most famous temple was constructed around 550 B.C.E. by the Cretan architect Chersiphron and his son Metagenes. It was built of marble, with its colonnades doubled to make a wide ceremonial passage around the central structure of the classical temple. A new ebony or grape wood statue of Artemis was created and a small, classical temple to house it was erected east of the open-air altar.

This enriched reconstruction was sponsored by Croesus, the wealthy king of Lydia. More than a thousand items have been recovered from the temple, including what may be the earliest coins of the silver-gold alloy, electrum. The temple became a tourist attraction, visited by merchants, kings, and sightseers, many of whom paid homage to Artemis in the form of jewelry and various goods. It was also a widely respected place of refuge, a tradition that was linked in myth with the Amazons who reportedly took refuge there, both from Heracles and from Dionysus.

Initial destruction
The temple was destroyed on July 21, 356 B.C.E. in an act of arson. The crime was initiated by a man named Herostratus, whose motivation was fame at any cost: "A man was found to plan the burning of the temple of Ephesian Diana so that through the destruction of this most beautiful building his name might be spread through the whole world."[1]

The citizens of Ephesus, outraged at the act, intended that Herostratus' name never be recorded. The historian Strabo, however, later noted the name, which is how it is known today.

Rebuilding efforts
On the very same night the temple was destroyed, Alexander the Great was born. Plutarch remarked that Artemis was too preoccupied with Alexander's delivery to save her burning temple. Alexander later offered to pay for the temple's rebuilding, but the Ephesians refused. Eventually, the temple was restored after Alexander's death, in 323 B.C.E.

This reconstruction was itself destroyed during a raid by the Goths in 262, in the time of Emperor Gallienus: "Respa, Veduc and Thuruar, leaders of the Goths, took ship and sailed across the strait of the Hellespont to Asia. There they laid waste many populous cities and set fire to the renowned temple of Diana at Ephesus," reported the historian Jordanes (Getica 20:107). The temple was again rebuilt, however, and continued to be known as one of the wonders of the world until well into the Christian era.

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Temple of Artemis. (2009, May 13). New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:16, May 24, 2009 from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Temple_of_Artemis?oldid=942055. Link to this site---Terms of Service---Privacy policy---Contact Us

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