THE ROMAN, BYZANTINE, SELJUK AND THE OTTOMAN ERA (Ephesus) The strong influence of Roman culture and art became evident on Ephesus as early as 1st century B.C. Especially, during the years of Antonius, Ephesus started to live a very luxurious and wealthy life. Antonius first came to city after the Phillipoi war. He was welcomed by Ephesus citizens with great admiration because of his deep respect of the Dionysus festivals. After he came to city with Cleopatra again in 33 B.C. he was forced to fight against Octavianus to keep control of the Roman empire. He lost the battle and receded to Alexandria in Egypt. He then committed suicide after him did Cleopatra.
Octavianus became the new emperor with the approval of Senate. His name was changed to Augustus in 27 B.C.
During his reign, Ephesus became again the capital of Roman rule in Anatolia. A governor of Rome was ruling the Anatolian cities on behalf of Roman empire. A great importance was given to Ephesus by Roman empires during the following reigns. The population of the city reached to approximately 250,000. It was one of five biggest cities in Roman empire.
In 129 A.D. during his second visit to the city, the emperor Hadrianus started a large project of cleaning the city harbour from mud.
One of seven wonders of all times, Artemis temple was burned down by a Gothic fleet in 262 A.D. They looted the city and ruined the temple.
The city carries a great importance in the history of Christianity. After the apostles were thrown out of Jerusalem in 37 A.D. they started to spread around. St. Paul came to Ephesus in the year 53 A.D. He established a number of first believers of Jesus in Ephesus. After a strong opposition by some locals he headed to Macedonia. He returned to the area years later, but settled in Miletus. After his execution by Romans in the year 64 A.D., St. John became the head of the church of Ephesus. St. John, who is known to be trusted by Jesus Christ as his mother's son after his crucifixion, took Mary out of Jerusalem and settled together in Ephesus. After his death, he was buried in Ephesus and a chapel was built on his grave later on.
According to the Christian council records of 431 A.D., Mary came to Ephesus with St. John and stayed in Museion, which is known as the chapel of Virgin Mary now.
St. John traveled throughout Anatolia after he became the head of the church of Ephesus. He had many followers around Smyrna and Pergamon. He was taken to Rome and exposed to extensive amount of tortures. He was sent to exile in Patmos where he wrote "The Apocalypse". This era was one of worst in the history of Christianity. The bad treatment of Christians continued until one of his servants killed emperor Domitianus. St. John came back to Ephesus and wrote his Bible.
One of the most important meeting of Christian history was held in Ephesus in the year 431. The main argument was whether that Virgin Mary was the mother of God Christ or Human Christ. There were a great division between the participants of the meeting. The division became more apparent after the meeting. Emperor Theodosios ordered another meeting in the Virgin Mary church. This was the first church built to her name. More than 200 religious leaders came together. It took more than 3 months to reach to a consensus. During this meeting, it was officially recorded that the Virgin Mary's grave was in Ephesus.
After 4th century A.D. as the city harbour became more unusable because of the mud filled, the population of the city started to decrease. As more people shifted the main settlement area to the Ayasuluk Hill, around the basilica which was on the grave of St.John, the importance of the city ceased rapidly. New city ramparts were built around this new settlement which was much smaller than the previous one.
During the following centuries, first Arabs then Seljuks came to the area. The later ones took control of the city without any resistance in 1304. Seljuks changed the name of the city to Ayasuluk. The city became again an important commercial center during late Seljuk period. There used to be consulates of Cenova and Venice. The city maintained its importance by being a religious center and home to a bishop and an influential church.
Aydinogullari reign paid a great attention to the architectural integrity and well-being of the city. A number of baths, mosques and monuments were erected during this age. The famous Esabey mosque still represents this era (1375) very well.
Finally, during the initial years of Ottoman era the city lost all of its importance and was abandoned totally.
Look at more ANCIENT CITIES OF ANATOLIA