Temple of Artemis
Artemis Temple is dedicated to the Goddess Artemis; It is located in the Selcuk district of İzmir. It is located in the middle of Ephesus Antique City and Isabey Mosque. The Temple of Artemis, also known as the Temple of Diana, completed in 550 BC and built entirely of marble, is considered one of the 7 wonders of the world.
Tales about Temple of Artemis
I would like to talk about the Temple of Artemis, which is related to Ephesus in my previous article. Even if the temple is not standing now, it is possible to reach a lot of information through ancient sources. Before explaining this place, I want to listen to a few ancient writers;
According to Plinius: “The temple is 115 meters long and 55 meters wide, made entirely of marble, consists of 127 columns, 36 of which are embossed, and the column heights are 90 meters”. According to Herodotus, the father of history, he says that “Kroisos, the King of Lydia, had the embossed columns in the temple built and it took 120 years to build”.
The Greek Sidon (the person who compiled the 7 Wonders of the World for the first time); stated that he saw the hanging gardens of Babylon, the statue of Zeus, and the pyramids in Egypt, but when he saw the Temple of Artemis, he had very different feelings.
The Byzantine historian Filon: on the other hand, explained that “the Temple of Artemis saw the mighty workmanship in the hanging gardens of Babylon, the tomb of the Mausoleum, but the Temple of Artemis rising to the clouds in Ephesus overshadowed them”. When the statements of many thinkers about the temple were like this, we were excited at first, we wondered if this structure was not the same, but we said, would we see a few of its columns and other marble engravings. When we arrived in front of the Temple of Artemis, we were disappointed. There is only one column that has survived to the present day. Of course, it would not be an exaggeration to say that it took us a few minutes to visit this place even when it is like this. Anyway, let’s leave all this aside and let me tell you about the magnificent structure that was on everyone’s tongue at the time and the information we obtained from ancient sources.
The temple was equipped with statues, paintings, and columns decorated with gold and silver by famous Greek sculptors. It is said that the artists competed with each other to create the most beautiful sculpture and that the majority of these sculptures are the sculptures of the Amazons, who are said to have founded the city of Ephesus. Was the Temple of Artemis really a temple in the years it was built? It is not known exactly. Sources show that it was built for the goddess of fertility, that the inside was used as a temple, and the outside as a bazaar. In fact, some of the research shows that it has a touristic value like the Grand Bazaar, which still exists today. The Temple of Artemis was also a market and religious institute. The tourists who have presented their beliefs and wishes to the goddess for centuries, the gold and ivory jewelry they bought from the bazaar, and the souvenirs they presented to the goddess of fertility, have been documented by the excavations.
The “Statue of Artemis” in the temple was said to be made of “vine tree” and allegedly, this statue was oiled every year so that it would not rot. In any case, no gold or silver statue of Artemis has ever been found during the excavations.
History of the Artemis Temple
Let’s come to why the temple did not come to the present day. In the most magnificent years of the temple: A naive man named “Herostratos” lived in the city of Ephesus and made a living by working as a shoemaker. This man does no harm to anyone, but he has a great weakness for being famous. Around him, there are many adventurers, robbers, and politicians who can use his weakness very well. Finally, one day, the people around him took advantage of this shoemaker’s weakness and said, “If you want to be famous, you must burn the Temple of Artemis, then your name will go down in history.” Herostratus takes action after a while to realize this plan, which he was afraid and frightened of at first. On a summer day when it was difficult to extinguish the fires due to the climate, on July 21, 356 BC, he took action and set the temple on fire. The oils stored for the oil lamps inside the temple burn quickly, and the temple’s treasury is looted by all the marauders in the city. The surviving ruin of the famous temple, which was surrounded by clouds of smoke and fog the next day, is very sad. The people of the city were very upset because they could not save the temple of their beloved goddess from the fire. Then another truth emerges. Does the question arise why the Goddess could not protect her temple from the fire? The answer to this question is understood years later. Because the Goddess has a duty on July 21, 356 BC, and on the day of the fire, the stars informed the goddess that a great person would be born on that day. They even give the good news that when this person is born and grows up, he will become a famous king or even an emperor and will raid every part of the world of that age, seize countries and create a new age. As a result, they declare that the birth of this famous person must be done by the goddess herself. Upon this news, the goddess leaves the temple on 21 July and goes to the city of Pella, Macedonia, and “Alexander the Great”, who has an important role in history, is born. For this reason, the goddess could not prevent the temple from burning. Yes, the temple is lit, and then; The Ephesians inflict the most terrible punishment on the shoemaker Herostratos, and even “death” is ordered for anyone who mentions his name. After this event, for centuries, people who were fond of fame and glory began to be called “Herostratik” and the punishment was certain death.
Excavations of the archeological site
Here is the Temple of Artemis with such a true story. In 1904, D.G. A team led by Hogarth continues excavating and discovers that there are 5 temples built on top of each other. It is emphasized that the temple consists of three phases and that phase A may be an altar built there before the temple, phase B may be a temple built on it later, and phase C may be the restoration work done after the fire. Although these are all I can tell you about the temple, there is no Artemis temple anymore, but two magnificent statues of the Temple of Artemis are exhibited in the Selçuk Ephesus Museum, for your information.