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The foundation of Ephesus goes back to Neolotic period which is 6000BC. Archeaologists found out that there were inhabitance during Hitite Period where Temple of Artemis stands today. The city was called Apasa which was the capital of the Kingdom of Arzawa.

Some sources say that the city was founded by the Amazons in the 2nd millenium BC. The inhabitants of this small settlement were Amazons, Carians, Lelegians. The Amazons were a race of woman warriors who lived in Anatolia and fought with the Trojans against the Achaeans in the Trojan War. At that time, their queen was killed by the Achaean hero Achilles. The Amazons were frequently depicted by artists as being in battle with men. Sources say that "Ephesos" was the name of a successful Amazon queen. As it is known there are also Amazons in South America in Brasil today. The name is given by a German Traveller in the 17th century when he saw the woman warriors along side the river among the rain forests.

In 11th c. BC Dor invaders coming from North, Macedonia migrated to mainland Greece and drive off the inhabitants to migrate. Among the minorities Ionians, Aiolians and some of the Dors migrated to western Asia Minor. Aiolians went to North of Smyrna. Ionians were here in Ephesus and around. Herodotos say "The best weather is in Ionia. The soils of Aiolia is much fertile but not the weather." They founded 12 major new cities such as Miletus, Priene, Colophon..etc. Dors went south and were assymilated by the Carians. Ephesus became an important port city. in the 6th c. BC. The city extented around where the Temple of Artemis stands today. Today this area is called Ayasoluk. The name is derived from the word "Hagios Theologos" According to the legend Androklos, son of of Kodros who is the King of Athens leaded this migration. He landed here after conquering the Island of Samos. At that time a permission from the Gods had to be taken to found a city. Androklos sailed to Delphi, to the Apollon Temple to ask the oracles (soothsayer) where to found the city. Oracles said "A boar and a fish will guide you and will mark the place where the city should be founded." This did not sound very logical to Androklos how a boar and a fish is going to meet. One day, during a barbecue. A fish jumped out from the grill with a burning coal sticked to it and caused a fire. This fire scared a wild boar close by and Androkos hunted the boar and decided to found the city where the boar is killed.

Ephesus was under Lydian and Persian rule till 4th century BC. Ephesus was in Attika-Delos alliance and her contribution was 7 talents a year while Colphon was contributing with 3 talents. Afterwards the famous Commander Alexander the Great librated the city from Persians. After his death, one of his generals and successors Lysimachos ruled the city. During his time: The alluvial deposits carried by Kaystros river silted the harbour and constantly rising sea level submerged the old settlement and made the harbour impassable. The unfavourable condition of the harbour affected trade. Ephesus was located on low ground, and was completely flooded by the sea. A new enriched settlement including Gymnasiums, stadiums, fountains... is ordered by Lysimachos. The reasons for the new conception of the city were, the rise in level of the ground water, and the necessity of a new harbour due to silting. Inhabitants were transferred to the new city where it stands today; between two hills Preon (Bülbüldag) and Pion (Panayirdag). The new city followed the latticed plan set down by Hypodomos of Miletus. The streets crossing each other at right angles. The plots, buildings appears as a chess board when viewed from the air.

Ephesus was distinguished with the Temple of Artemis (Diana). Great crowds of people were attracted to Ephesus by the cult of Artemis and her famous temple. Temple of Artemis is considered to be one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. Turkey houses another wonder, which is 150 miles away from Ephesus in the Carian city of Halicarnasus. "Mauselleum of King Mosolos"

In 2nd century BC Ephesus sided with Antiochus, the king of Syria against the Romans. After the defeat at Magnesia (Manisa) which is 100 miles north of Ephesus. Ephesus went under the rule of the King of Pergamon, an ally of Rome. After the Kings death, it became a Roman city. During the reign of Roman Emp. Antonius Pius, the city bore the title of "the first and greatest metropolis of Asia."

The peak times of Ephesus were during Hellenistic and Roman times. Ephesus, the jewel of Ionia, the largest Metropolis of Asia Minor, consisted of 200.000 citizens and 25.000 slaves (2nd c. AD). During the feast days honouring Artemis, the population tripled. The city became the capital of Province Asia during the Roman Emp. Augustus in 2nd c. AD. During this time Ephesus became a center for Art & Culture and a meeting place for Philosophy. The most famous philospher from Ephesus is Heraklitos who lived at 4th c. BC. In 2nd c. AD many marble buildings were build and the streets were decorated with marble statues. %46 of the marble reserves & quaries of the world are located in Turkey. The city had one of the most advanced aqueduct & sewage systems in the ancient world, with multiple aqueducts of various sizes to supply different areas of the city, including 4 major aqueducts.These advanced aquaduct system used to supply 120lt of water per second. Today in Kusadasi 200lt supplied per second.

Although sacked by the Goths in 263 AD, Ephesus remained the most important city of the Byzantine Empire after Constantinople in the 5th and 6th centuries. However, other destructions by the Arabs in the year 8th c. AD spurred a quick decline: the city was largely abandoned when the harbor completely filled in with river silt despite repeated dredges during the city's history. The silt removed its access to the Aegean Sea. When the Seljuk Turks conquered it in 11th c., it was a small village. The Byzantines resumed control in 1100 and kept control of the region until the end of the 13th century. During Byzantine period the major settlement was in its first place at Ayasoluk(Hagios Theologos) Hill. Emir of Aydin, a Turkish state conquered the city in 14th c. Starting from 16th c. city lost its importance and ruled by the Ottoman Empire.

Ephesus was an important center for early Christianity. You may notice early christianity symbols like ICHTIYUS (Jesus Christ son of gad the savior) commonly symbolised with a fish figure. Aramaic writings can also be seen on slabs right opposite the Brothel. Ephesus is vividly alluded to in Acts 19-20 in connection with St. Paul’s extended ministry at Ephesus. Paul used it as a base. He became embroiled in a dispute with artisans, whose livelihood depended on the Temple of Artemis there, and wrote Corinthians1 from Ephesus. Apostle Paul probably spent two and a half years in Ephesus during his third missionary journey, until a riot forced him to leave the city rapidly. Some authorities believe that St. Paul was imprisoned in the so-called Prison of St. Paul in Ephesus. Later Paul wrote to the Christian community at Ephesus.

The Apostle and Evangelist John lived in Asia Minor in the last decades of the first century and from Ephesus had guided the Churches of that province...After Domitian's death the Apostle returned to Ephesus during the reign of Trajan, and at Ephesus he died about 100 at a great age. Ephesus was one of the seven cities addressed in Revelation. Ephesus was the setting for the Third Ecumenical Council in 431, which the question of the Virgin Mary being the Mother of God was debated. In this council it was decided that Christ had a double nature as God and man, and the Virgin Mary was "Theotokos", god-bearer. Ephesus is one of the Seven Churches of Revelation.

Ephesus was very cosmopolitan; most of its inhabitants were Ionians, Jews, Romans, Egyptians. Greek was the official language. There were religous buildings for different faiths such as Serapis Temple for the Egyptians, a synagogue for jews where St. Paul preached. So far the synagogue has not been excavated by the archeologists. Some evidences were found, synagogue is believed to be either close to Church of Mary or the Theater Gymnasium.

Social classes were seperated by birth and wealth. The city laws were engraved on marble slabs and were displayed in the main squares. Fortune telling was very common in Ephesus. Apollon Temples had been the main attraction by the people who would like to know about their futures. Close to Ephesus there were 2 Apollon Temples. One was in Claros and the other one was in Didyma. Delphi was the largest, Didyma was the second and Claros was the third largest oracle center of the ancient world. The head nun called "Phytia" was considered to be the gods messenger in the Apollon Temples. The main Apollon temple during the ancient times was in Delphi.

Lead and iron bars were used for the stability of the buildings and columns (Base-Foundation-Capital). During the Byzantine time "Spolio" recycled material is commonly used on constructions. Slabs on curetes & marble streets were covered with Marble panels which were glued with melted lead. During Hellenistic period main consturction material was stones, Roman period was marble, Byzantine period was brick with spolio.

First excavations were started by John Turtle Wood, a British engineer who came to Selcuk for railway construction. He was the one who discovered the ruins in 1870's. Later on Austrians took over him. For over 110 years excations are run by Austrians. So far %12 of the city is excavated. Today Ephesus is 3 miles away from sea due to silting.