Ephesus: An Ancient City of Biblical Proportions & How It Inspires My Jewelry Designs - Part 2/3
In Part 1 of the blog on the ancient city of Ephesus I have discussed the early history of the city & shown you photos of some of the ancient themed jewelry I have handmade that features the Hercules & Zeus coin. In part 2 I will discuss the tale Ephesus following its liberation at 334 BC by the 22-year old Macedonian King Alexander the Great.
As I have discussed before Ephesus is an ancient city located in present day Turkey. Among the many inhabitants of the city, the most remarkable were perhaps the Romans. As many others who have influenced my handmade jewelry designs, they too have created magnificent ancient coins and jewelry that inspire me. Here is my favorite coin from Ephesus in the form of a Sterling silver pendant & a pair of gold-plated earrings.
The Ephesus tetradrachm features a honeybee on the obverse face and a stag on the reverse face. Originally the bee was the symbol of an early Anatolian goddess Kybele for whom Artemis was considered to be the closest equivalent for the Greeks. It is believed that in time features of two Goddesses united forming the magnificent Lady of Ephesus, the fertile & generous mother Goddess with many breasts.
So close was the connection between Artemis and bees that the priestesses of the goddess were called "honey bees." The palm tree on the back alludes to Artemis' birthplace, the island of Delos, where, under a palm tree, the goddess Leto gave birth to Artemis and her twin brother, Apollo. The forepart of a stag symbolizes Artemis' affinity with animals.
Let's go back to the history of the city, In 129 BC, Romans began to control Ephesus according to the will left by the late Pergamom King Attalos. In the following period the city strongly felt the presence of Romans as the taxes rose significantly. In 88 BC, a series of events triggered by unrest led to rebellion of Mithridates. This name refers to the King of Pontus who conquered Asia Minor. Under his rule a massacre known as the Asiatic Vespers was conducted that killed 80 to 150 thousand Roman men, women and children.
In two years, King Mithridates was defeated following the 1st Mithridatic War by the Roman counsel Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Ephesus once again came under Roman rule. With back taxes and imposed indemnity, citizens of Asia Minor including Ephesus undertook a huge burden.
When Augustus became Roman Emperor in 27 BC, Ephesus was made the capital of Western Asia Minor instead of Pergamom. The city flourished and wealth and prosperity poured into Ephesus once again. In time Ephesus an important center for Christianity, too. Some sources say that the population of Ephesus reached 225 thousand in its best days. Recent studies have indicated that the population ranged from 138 to 172 thousand and could have been even smaller ranging from 36 to 56 thousand inhabitants. Nevertheless Ephesus was big, luxurious and culturally rich thanks to its port which enriched the city.
In addition to the already existing Temple of Artemis, Romans build a very large open-air theater with seating for 25 thousand spectators. Initially used to showcase drama plays, this theater featured gladiator fights in later Roman times. In fact in 2007, the first ever gladiator graveyard was discovered there. Celcus library was also added by the Romans in 135 AD in honor of Roman Senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus. The library was 3 stories high and it contained an amazing 12 thousand scroll collection rivaling many libraries of its time.
This immense city featured bath houses and at least 6 aqueducts which are still visible and partly intact today. Photos below gives us a sense of what this amazing city looked like during its golden age.
Until next time.
Ephesus Open Air Theater
Celsus Library Located in Ephesus
Ruins of Ephesus
Hadrian's Temple in Ephesus