As the capital of the province of Asia Minor in the Roman era, Ephesus was the leading political and intellectual center. Ephesus was at the terminus of great highways. It was the center of trade, finance, industry and entertainment. The city was supported with various festivals, athletic games and gladiatorial combats.
Ephesus lies on the Aegean coast of Turkey 70 km south of Izmir at the mouth of the river Caystros (Küçük Menderes) and slightly north of the island of Samos. In Greek antiquity this was the center of the Ionian countryside which was incorporated into the Roman Province of Asia in 133 BC.
Ephesus was the home of many cults but the most important and powerful deity in the city was Artemis of Ephesus. This temple made Ephesus ancient world’s religion center. The temple of this ancient Anatolian goddess was the magnet that attracted pilgrims and settlers to Ephesus. The Ionian settlers at Ephesos, according to tradition, found the worship of Artemis there or of some deity to whom they gave the name of Artemis. The antiquity of Artemis and her association with Ephesus was major strength of Ephesus
Some searches show that Ephesus was firstly a Hittite city called Apasas established around 1400 BC whilst the first Greek settlement dated 1000 BC. According to ancient writers such as Pausanias, Strabo and Athenaeus, Ephesus was founded by Androclus who is one of the sons of the legendary Codrus, king of Athens. He had consulted an oracle and was told to settle in a place which would be showed to them by a fish and a wild boar. When he came to Ephesus with his people they saw that some of the local people roasting fish near the sea-shore. One of the fish fell from the fire and the bushes around caught fire. This disturbed a wild boar in the bushes. Upon seeing it Androclus chased the boar and killed it. On the Hadrian’s temple on a frieze in Ephesus, this sequence of events is depicted.
In 7th century BC Ephesus came under the control of Cimmerians. In 6th century it was under the rule of Lydians. Like other Ionian cities of Asia Minor, the destiny of Ephesus in the sixth century was linked to the rise of Lydia as dominant power under Croesus and to the latter’s overthrow by Cyrus the Persian in 547 or 546 B.C Ephesus seems to have remained on good terms with the ruling powers in the east. Croesus of Lydia contributed to the construction of Artemesium. When its neighbor Miletus was destroyed by the Persians after disastrous Ionian revolt in 494 BC, Ephesus was not harmed.
Ephesus joined in Delian League. With the victory at the battle of the Granicus River over Persians, Alexander the great took the control of Ephesus. After the death of Alexander the Great Ephesus was ruled by Lysimachus, one of the Diadochoi. He wanted to move the city to a new location where we know today. He surrounded the new city with thick defense walls. After Lysimachus period Ephesus was between Seleucids and Ptolemies.
In 190 BC it came under the rule of Attalids of Pergamum after the defeat of Antiochus III at the battle of Magnesia ad Sipylum. In 133 BC, with the bequest of Attalus III, Ephesus with the rest of the area came under the Rule of Roman
Ephesus had a prosperous time during the imperial Roman era. It was an important commercial and financial centre. Its population was around 400.000 in 2th century. The city also attracted pilgrims from all over the world including a number of emperors.
During the latter half of the first century Ephesus became a center for new Christian faith that would replace the old pagan religion of the Graeco Roman world. This new religion was expanded both among Jewish community and Greek population. St. Paul paid two visits to Ephesus. One in 52 AD, the other in 54 AD.
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