Ephesus Stories and Tips

Ephesus--A 1500 word history!

The Road by the Harbor Photo, Ephesus, Turkey

The city of Ephesus was, according to myth, founded by the Amazons--specifically, a Queen named Ephesia. The date somewhere around 1200 to 1100 B.C. The Amazons were reputedly fierce warriors going so far as to remove one breast so they could use bows and arrows more efficiently. They are also supposed to have been outstanding horsewomen, and locally they are credited with forming the first cavalry. Another legend found in a series of friezes on the Temple of Hadrain in Ephesus suggests that the son of Codrus, the King of Athens, a fellow named Androclus founded Ephesus. As the story goes, upon the death of his father, Androclus, because of some troubles, needed to get out of Athens quickly. He went to the Oracle at Delphi and was told a fish and boar would show him where to found a new city. Several days later his men were starting to cook some fish. One jumped out of the pan and landed in a bush frightening a boar who had been hiding there into running. They chased the boar finally bringing it down. On that site the city of Ephesus was supposedly founded. While that all sounds pretty fanciful, boars and fish symbols are common in Ephesus and figure prominently on their coinage. According to Heroditus, the Carians & Lelegians & possibly even the Hittites were earlier dwellers of this area. A Mycenaean necropolis dating to the 14th or 15 cent. B.C. has been uncovered as well.

Ephesus was, in antiquity, on the seacoast and we don't really know much more than that about the first 400 years or so of the city. We only know from early writers that little feuds between the city states around Ephesus occasionally occurred and that Androclus expanded the influence of Ephesus during the early years.. Then there is a period of history where Ephesus is ruled by those they call the Tyrants. (we are still pre-Roman) Then in 600 BC the people forced these rulers to bow to pressure from the populace and accept the creation of a parliament. The name of Curetes was used and and each year 6 members of the Curetes were replaced. There followed eras of peace and the rule by the Lydians and then Persians in 547 BC. The Persians were removed with help from Athens in 470 BC. Then the Athenians lost the Pelleponese War with a Spartan/Persian alliance and Ephesus was given back to the Persians again. In spite of all the conquering and reconquering going on, Ephesus social life remained about the same. Men and Women enjoyed almost equality. Women were educated and became poets, scholars, admirals and even female judges.

The next step in Ephesus history is Alexander the Great. He got rid of the Persians and then died very young. One of his general Lysimachus took over and began the process of moving the town. The river Meander was silting in the harbor. First came a swamp which began to cause outbreaks of malaria in the 4th cent. B.C. In 133 BC. Ephesus became Roman without a fight. This was the cites most brilliant time, between the 1st and 2nd Cent. BC when she became the second greatest city of the East after Alexandria. In about 53 AD. Paul arrived and the first Christians were converted. Then is often happens after a period of greatness, gradually Ephesus lost prominence but, the site was not completely abandoned until about 450 A.D. When the Ephesians, now mostly Christian moved to the area around St. John?s Basilica. After the 11th cent. A.D. most of the Ephesians left, departed the area because of Arab and urban pirates attacks. That left only a small village of Turkish tribesmen. This was then abandoned when the Ottoman Empire was established a century or so later.

Excavations of the original city site were begun in 1869 and have continued till the modern day. Only 4-5% of the city is uncovered. The ruins contain both Greek and Roman elements and the city is one of the best preserved in antiquity.

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