Greek city of Ephesos in Ionia
Bronze 15mm (3.66 grams) Struck circa 48-27 B.C.
Reference: cf. Head, NC 1880, S. 160
Bee; all within wreath.
Stag standing right; torch behind; IΑΣΩΝ in exergue.
Situated at the mouth of the river Kayster, Ephesos was founded by Ionian colonists under Androklos. It rose to be a place of great importance in Classical and Hellenistic times, due in the main to the illustrious sanctuary of the Ephesian Artemis dating from the time of Kroisos of Lydia. After the end of the Pergamene Kingdom in 133 B.C. Ephesos passed under the rule of the Romans.
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Ephesus was an ancient Greek city on the west coast of Anatolia, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era. In the Roman period, it was for many years the second largest city of the Roman Empire; ranking behind Rome, the empire's capital. Ephesus had a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, which also made it the second largest city in the world.
The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BCE), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Temple was destroyed in 401 CE by a mob led by St. John Chrysostom. Emperor Constantine I rebuilt much of the city and erected new public baths. The town was again partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614. The city's importance as a commercial center declined as the harbor was slowly silted up by the Cayster River (Küçük Menderes).
Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation. The Gospel of John may have been written here. It is also the site of a large gladiators' graveyard.
Today's archaeological site lies 3 kilometers southwest of the town of Selçuk, in the Selçuk district of İzmir Province, Turkey. The ruins of Ephesus are a favorite international and local tourist attraction, partly owing to their easy access from Adnan Menderes Airport and via the port of Kuşadası.
The area surrounding Ephesus was already inhabited during the Neolithic Age (about 6000 BCE), as was revealed by the excavations at the nearby hoyuk (artificial mounds known as tells) of Arvalya and Cukurici.. Bronze age
Excavations in recent years have unearthed settlements from the early Bronze Age at the Ayasuluk Hill. In 1954 a burial ground from the Mycenaean era (1500-1400 BCE) with ceramic pots was discovered close to the ruins of the basilica of St. John. This was the period of the Mycenaean Expansion when the Achaioi (as they were called by Homer) settled in Ahhiyawa during the 14th and 13th centuries BCE. Scholars believe that Ephesus was founded on the settlement of Apasa (or Abasa), a Bronze Age-city noted in 14th-century BCE Hittite sources as in the land of Ahhiyawa.
Site of the Temple of Artemis in the town of Selçuk, near Ephesus.
The city of Ephesus itself was founded as an Attic-Ionian colony in the 10th century BCE on the Ayasuluk Hill, three kilometers from the center of antique Ephesus (as attested by excavations at the Seljuk castle during the 1990s). The mythical founder of the city was a prince of Athens named Androklos, who had to leave his country after the death of his father, King Kadros. According to legend, he founded Ephesus on the place where the oracle of Delphi became reality ("A fish and a boar will show you the way"). Androklos drove away most of the native Carian and Lelegian inhabitants of the city and united his people with the remainder. He was a successful warrior and, as king, he was able to join the twelve cities of Ionia together into the Ionian League. During his reign the city began to prosper. He died in a battle against the Carians when he came to the aid of Priene, another city of the Ionian League. Androklos and his dog are depicted on the Hadrian temple frieze, dating from the second century. Later, Greek historians such as Pausanias, Strabo and the poet Kallinos, and the historian Herodotos however reassigned the city's mythological foundation to Ephos, queen of the Amazons.
The Greek goddess Artemis and the great Anatolian goddess Kybele were identified together as Artemis of Ephesus. The many-breasted "Lady of Ephesus", identified with Artemis, was venerated in the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World and the largest building of the ancient world according to Pausanias (4.31.8). Pausanius mentions that the temple was built by Ephesus, son of the river god Caystrus. before the arrival of the Ionians. Of this structure, scarcely a trace remains.
About 650 BCE, Ephesus was attacked by the Cimmerians, who razed the city, including the temple of Artemis. A few small Cimmerian artifacts can be seen at the archaeological museum of Ephesus.
When the Cimmerians had been driven away, the city was ruled by a series of tyrants. After a revolt by the people, Ephesus was ruled by a council called the Kuretes. The city prospered again, producing a number of important historical figures, such as the iambic poets Callinus and the satirist Hipponax, the philosopher Heraclitus, the great painter Parrhasius and later the grammarian Zenodotos, the physicians Soranus and Rufus.
About 560 BCE Ephesus was conquered by the Lydians under the mighty king Croesus. He treated the inhabitants with respect, despite ruling harshly, and even became the main contributor to the reconstruction of the temple of Artemis. His signature has been found on the base of one of the columns of the temple (now on display in the British Museum). Croesus made the populations of the different settlements around Ephesus regroup (synoikismos) in the vicinity of the Temple of Artemis, enlarging the city.
Later in the same century, the Lydians under Croesus invaded Persia. The Ionians refused a peace offer from Cyrus the Great, siding with the Lydians instead. After the Persians defeated Croesus the Ionians offered to make peace but Cyrus insisted that they surrender and become part of the empire. They were defeated by the Persian army commander Harpagos in 547 BCE. The Persians then incorporated the Greek cities of Asia Minor into the Achaemenid Empire. Those cities were then ruled by satraps.
Ephesus has intrigued archaeologists for the main reason that for the Archaic Period, there is no definite location for the settlement. There are numerous sites to suggest the movement of a settlement between the Bronze Age and the Roman period but the silting up of the natural harbors as well as the movement of the Kayster River meant that the location never remainded the same.
Ephesus continued to prosper. But when taxes continued to be raised under Cambyses II and Darius, the Ephesians participated in the Ionian Revolt against Persian rule in the Battle of Ephesus (498 BCE), an event which instigated the Greco-Persian wars. In 479 BCE, the Ionians, together with Athens and Sparta, were able to oust the Persians from Anatolia. In 478 BCE, the Ionian cities entered with Athens and Sparta into the Delian League against the Persians. Ephesus did not contribute ships but gave financial support by offering the treasure of Apollo to the goddess Athena, protectress of Athens.
During the Peloponnesian War, Ephesus was first allied to Athens but sided in a later phase, called the Decelean War, or the Ionian War, with Sparta, which also had received the support of the Persians. As a result, rule over the kingdoms of Anatolia was ceded again to Persia.
These wars did not much affect daily life in Ephesus. The Ephesians were surprisingly modern in their social relations. They allowed strangers to integrate. Education was much valued. Through the cult of Artemis, the city also became a bastion of women's rights. Ephesus even had its female artists. In later times, Pliny the Elder mentioned having seen at Ephesus a representation of the goddess Diana by Timarata, the daughter of a painter.
In 356 BCE the temple of Artemis was burned down, according to legend, by a lunatic called Herostratus. By coincidence, this was the night that Alexander the Great was born. The inhabitants of Ephesus at once set about restoring the temple and even planned a larger and grander one than the original.
Historical map of Ephesus, from Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1888
When Alexander the Great defeated the Persian forces at the Battle of Granicus in 334 BCE, the Greek cities of Asia Minor were liberated. The pro-Persian tyrant Syrpax and his family were stoned to death, and Alexander was greeted warmly when he entered Ephesus in triumph. When Alexander saw that the temple of Artemis was not yet finished, he proposed to finance it and have his name inscribed on the front. But the inhabitants of Ephesus demurred, claiming that it was not fitting for one god to build a temple to another. After Alexander's death in 323 BCE, Ephesus in 290 BCE came under the rule of one of Alexander's generals, Lysimachus.
As the river Cayster silted up the harbor, the resulting marshes caused malaria and many deaths among the inhabitants. The people of Ephesus were forced to move to a new settlement two kilometers further on, when the king flooded the old city by blocking the sewers. This settlement was called after the king's second wife, Arsinoe II of Egypt. After Lysimachus had destroyed the nearby cities of Lebedos and Colophon in 292 BCE, he relocated their inhabitants to the new city. The architectural layout of the city would remain unchanged for the next 500 years.
Ephesus revolted after the treacherous death of Agathocles, giving the Syrian king Seleucus I Nicator an opportunity for removing and killing Lysimachus, his last rival, at the Battle of Corupedium in 281 BCE. After the death of Lysimachos the town took again the name of Ephesus.
Thus Ephese became part of the Seleucid Empire. After the murder of king Antiochus II Theos and his Egyptian wife, pharaoh Ptolemy III invaded the Seleucid Empire and the Egyptian fleet swept the coast of Asia Minor. Ephesus came under Egyptian rule between 263-197 BCE.
When the Seleucid king Antiochus III the Great tried to regain the Greek cities of Asia Minor, he came in conflict with Rome. After a series of battles, he was defeated by Scipio Asiaticus at the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BCE. As a result, Ephesus came under the rule of the Attalid king of Pergamon Eumenes II (197-133 BCE). When his grandson Attalus III died without male children of his own, he left his kingdom to the Roman Republic.