Saturday January 19 , 2008

 

This morning we left our hotel in Kusadasi and headed to Ephesus. The earliest settlement at Ephesus is dated to 6,000 B.C.   The city was at its height during the second century A.D., with a population of 250,000 residents, at least 30,000 of which were slaves.  The main industry of Ephesus was trade and it was always a successful city because of that.  Throughout history conquering powers would not destroy the city but simply charge it taxes.  However, during the seventh century the city was abandoned because the harbor that had made Ephesus so successful had become very difficult and expensive to maintain.  Although excavations on the ancient city did not begin until 150 years ago, the city was not a secret buried deep underground like some other ancient cities.  In many parts of the city there were only several feet of earth covering the ruins.  The British were the first to begin excavations as they were building a railroad in the area, which created a convenient method of transporting artifacts to Britain. 
            Ephesus is the largest excavated ancient city in the world.  It is unique because although all cities of the same time had a marketplace Ephesus has two.  One is located outside the Parliament, which functioned as a kind of stock market, and one closer to the harbor where traders could easily bring their goods.  In the first part of the city we walked through the Parliament building, which could hold 1,400 people.  
            We entered into the second part of the city by passing through the Gate of Hercules, which was cleverly narrower than chariots creating a pedestrian walkway.  In this area we toured the homes of the wealthiest Ephesians.  Carefully protected by a huge covered enclosure we were able to walk among the houses on an elevated glass walkway created so that the many visitors to the site would not wear on the beautiful marble and mosaic floors.  The houses were quite large and each one had running water delivered through a complex maze of pipes.  Each room in each house was impressive, originally all of the walls were faced in marble and some was still intact, each room had a unique and beautiful mosaic floor and many had frescos on the walls. 
            The library had impressive and detailed carving in the marble and utilizes perspective to create an even greater effect.  The upper level of the building has smaller columns than the bottom, making the building appear even larger than it is in reality.  The theatre at Ephesus is the largest theatre in Asian Minor and has a total capacity of 25,000 people (about 10% of the population).  The theatre was built in the third century B.C. and was the location of St. Paul’s speech to the Ephesians for which he was imprisoned.
            After stopping for lunch we continued on to the church of St. John.  The church, now in ruins, overlooks the Temple of Artemis one of the ancient wonders of the world.  The church, like others of time, was built in a cross shape East to West.  Within the church is the tomb of St. John, although his remains have not been located.
            We then continued on to the Church of the Virgin Mary.  It is believed that Mary lived her last years here because before his crucifixion Jesus asked John to care for Mary and it is likely that he brought her to this area.  The church is still functioning and has we walked through monks and nuns recited the rosary.  Outside of the church people could light a candle for someone if they wished or tie a ribbon or paper to a wall covered with other prayers of previous passers by.  

Hannah Urrey