The temple of Artemis in Sardes is one of the largest temples in the world. The temple was originally dedicated to Artemis. It faces to the west like other temples of Artemis in Anatolia such as those at Ephesus and Magnesia.
Although it was used for more than 800 years, the temple of Artemis was never completed. The two complete columns have stood intact since antiquity and have never been restored. Unfinished parts of the building revealed information about different building techniques which help to date the temple to the Hellenistic or Roman periods.
According to inscriptions the oldest preserved monument in the sanctuary was probably the early altar which dates from the late 6th or 5th century. The temple was begun during the Hellenistic period in the 3th century BC. Only the main building (cella) was built during this time. Its roof was supported by two rows of interior columns. Although the columns outside of building must have been planned in this period they were not begun then.
In roman times 1th or 2th century the cella was divided into two equal parts by building a cross wall to create two back to back chambers. This would have been built for the cult of imperial family and that of Artemis to accommodate.
The inner columns were removed and 8.5 m high statues of the emperors and their wives were set in the cella. It must have been at the same time, the exterior colonnade was begun on the east of temple.
The columns at the east end of the temple were erected but never finished. On the long north and south sides the foundations were laid, and on the west, none of the columns were begun. The four fluted columns elevated on pedestals, two at each end, were probably those removed from the Hellenistic cella. Because these columns were somewhat shorter than other exterior columns, they required pedestals to attain the same height.
With the official recognition of Christianity in the 4th century AD pagan sanctuaries was getting closed, but the building probably stayed in use. The small church at the east end was built in the fifth century AD.
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