THE ARTEMIS TEMPLE (Ephesus)
The holy goddess Artemis, the most sacred of all in Anatolia, had a long history of evolution going back may be thousands of years. The earliest forms of Artemis statues were found in Catalhoyuk and Hacilar, central Anatolia. The most famous of all the goddesses and gods in Anatolia was Kybele, first known name of Artemis. Then the same goddess earned a wide respect and acceptance from Roma to Mesopotamia and even in Arabia. Arabs named her Lat, Egyptians Isis, Romans Diana, Ionians Artemis.
The very early statues of Kybele were carved of wood. Then in the western Anatolia as the Ionian civilization started to gain momentum, Kybele became Artemis, the goddess of nature and other gods and goddesses. She was also representing land and fertility.
The Artemis temple in Ephesus was one of the seven wonders in the antiquity. The largest structure of the Hellenistic world and the first building made up of marble fully.
The Artemis temple of Ephesus was demolished and rebuilt seven times, according to the famous historian Strabon. It was built always to the same site. Although the first temple was built by the seaside. It is now 5kms. away from the sea because of the accumulation of alluvions into the harbor. Since the first construction it has seen certain modifications and improvements.
Before it was built by the architects, Theodoros from Samos, Chersiphon and his son Metagenes from Knossos of Crete, there used to be a small Kybele temple in the same place. This first temple was facing west, typical to all the Kybele temples. There are some ceramic bowls found from the 7th century B.C. during the excavations. These certainly indicate that the site belonged to a holy Kybele temple during the early settlement periods of Ionians. It is widely believed that this first temple was destroyed during a Kimmer attack.
The first Artemis temple was built by the above mentioned architects in 550 B.C. This building was designed in Ionian style and the dimensions were 55 x 110m. It was the largest structure of the time. According to Plynius the temple was standing on a marble base and the roof was supported by 127 dual row columns. The 36 columns on the front side was decorated with high-reliefs. The columns were 19m. high.
This Archaic Artemis temple was burned down by someone named Herostratos, a citizen of Ephesus to immortalize his name. Most of the finding, gold and ivory statues and presents of the temple were taken to British Museum during early the excavations.
The new Artemis temple was built during the following years according to a plan very close to the original one. Only the marble podium on which the columns sit was heightened 2.7mts. and 13 stairs were built around this podium. The temple was 55m. wide and 105m. long.
The 'U' shaped altar (sacrificial place) was standing on a dual row thin columns in front of the temple. The statues and frescos decorating this altar are on display in the Ephesus Museum and also in the British Museum.
Some of the columns and the statues, especially the Amazon statue, are known to be made by the most famous artists of the time.
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