Ephesus, a city symbolizing the greatness of history now lies mysterious and underground beneath the many stories that abound upon it. A place of popularity centuries before Christ and even after His death, it is but natural for archeologists and historians to take interest in its excavation. For common people such as this student, however, it presents not only a paper to research about but a road to rediscovering one’s faith. Ephesus lies on the western part of Turkey. Historians believe that Ephesus was first discovered by the Athenian, Androclos, who was protecting his people from the Dor invasion in Greece.
Guided by the symbols of a fish and a boar predicted in an oracle, Androclos knew he was on the right track when a fish they were frying fell off their pan and irritated a boar hiding in the bushes. 1 He immediately ran after it and killed it, marking the site where he caught the boar as the place to build his new kingdom, Ephesus. The city reached its golden age in mid-6 BC under the rule of the Lydian king, Kreisos and was a center of culture and arts as evidenced by the temple and grand statue of Artemis, their goddess of Fertility.
The temple was believed to have been burnt down by an insane man, Herostratus, who merely wanted his name to go down in history. Legend has it that on that same night that the temple was engulfed in flames, Alexander the Great was born. As he rose to rule an empire, Alexander offered to rebuild the temple but the proud Ephesians discreetly turned him down saying he, as a god, can not build a temple for another god. Upon Alexander’s death, his general, Lysimakhos, moved the city’s ——————– 1. “Ephesus History-I. ” Ephesus; available from http://www.
ephesus. us/ephesus/ephesus_ history. htm. location further west and renamed it after his wife, Arsinoeina. 2 The people later changed it back to its former name. After the death of Christ, the city again became the hub of commerce and culture being the central gateway to Asia especially under the reign of Augustus. It was a very rich city with about 225,000 residents making it the fourth largest city at that time. Ephesus became famous in the Bible because Saint Paul decided to preach at the temple of Artemis. The letters of St.
Paul to the Ephesians, a major volume in the New Testament part of the Bible, strengthens the importance of this city. The disciple, St. John, and the Blessed Virgin Mary were also known to have resided in Ephesus after Christ died. At around 1307, the River Caystros that gave Ephesus its importance in sea trade became silted up and this led to the decline of the city’s popularity. The richness of its history spanning centuries of cultural change makes Ephesus a prime target for archeologists to discover more about how man used to live and for the faithful to increase their knowledge about Christianity.
Various archeological groups have been continuously trying to excavate the area since the 1860s but objectives on discovering more artifacts have lately taken a side step towards preservation of what had already been dug up. The first to get permission for his excavations of Ephesus was British engineer J. T. Wood who convinced the British Museum that he can find the Temple or Artemis. Woods discovered remnants of the theater and dug from 1866-1868 until his sponsor, the British Museum, threatened to cease his funding if he does not find the temple. He fortunately found the walls of ——————–
2. Ibid. the temple on April 1869. 3 From 1904 onwards, D. G. Hogarth continued Wood‘s search for the temple and upon further examination realized that the earlier platform Woods had found is but the surface of a more magnificint discovery for beneath its center the remains of three yet older structures were there. 4 In 1895, Otto Benndorf, through the Austrian Archeological Institute, was able to get the permission of the Ottoman Sultan to excavate. Until this day, the Austrian Archeological Institute has been excavating for relics and had only two interruptions in the lieu of World Wars I and II..
In 1954, archeologists of the Ephesus Museum have joined forces with the Austrian Archeological Institute. Due to its importance as a tourist attraction, Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism created the program “Selcuk-Ephesuus Excavations, Restorations, and Sytematization of its Environs” in 1979. 5 The most recent formal report on the findings and state of preservation of the relics was given by the Austrian Archeological Institute last January 25, 2010 at the second Ephesus Symposium in Istanbul after a five month excavation period in 2009.
13 different sites were concentrated on for more discoveries and —————————- 3. Terry Richardson Antalya, [Digging Up Turkey’s Past] Unearthing Ephesus with John Turtle Wood ]; available from http://www. todayszaman. com/tz-web/mobile. do? load=wapDetay&link=198967. 4. Facts about David George Hogarth ; available from http://www. britannica. com/facts/ 5/133182/David-George-Hogarth-as-discussed-in-Ephesus-ancient-city-Turkey. 5. “Excavations in Ephesus. ” Ephesus; available from http://www. ephesus. us/ephesus/ephesus_excavations. htm.
preservation projects by a team comprised of 174 academicians from 11 different countries. 6 To this date, only an estimated ten percent of the total city had been excavated. Although much has been said about the opulence of Ephesus, its historical importance is much greater for Christians because it is believed that the Blessed Virgin Mary spent her last years in the city. There was a legend that Mary lived and died in Ephesus, but this was also true of Timothy and Mary Magdalene and Mary appears no more than any other saint in the artifacts and inscriptions uncovered so far. 7
The writer finds that many have sought to establish that the Blessed Virgin had laid her life to rest in Ephesus but no archeological evidence points to this as a fact. Maybe it is true. Maybe it is not. The mystery of Ephesus has been kept underground for centuries. Its opulence and majesty can be read all over history books as much as the greatness of God has been declared by many. One realizes that faith is not and should not be grounded on artifacts and evidences but on the strength of believing… believing that something is real beyond any physical manifestation it can project.
Ephesus may hold so many secrets as to its relevance to the Christian faith but this writer concludes that it is merely a symbol that suggests one to believe that life is a wonder to discover. ——————— 6. Austrian Cultural Forum Istanbul, Ephesus: Results of recent excavations presented in Istanbul; available from http://www. bmeia. gv. at/en/foreignministry/news/presseaussendungen/ 2010/ephesos-praesentation-der-juengsten-grabungsergebnisse-in-istanbul. html. 7. Holly Hayes, The Virgin Mary In Ephesus; available from http://www. sacred-destinations.
com/turkey/ephesus-virgin-mary. htm. BIBLIOGRAPHY Antalya, Richardson Terry. [Digging Up Turkey’s Past] Unearthing Ephesus with John Turtle Wood [database on-=line]; available from http://www. todayszaman. com/tz- web/mobile. do? load=wapDetay&link=198967. Austrian Cultural Forum , Ephesus: Results of recent excavations presented in Istanbul[database on-line]; available from http://www. bmeia. gv. at/en/foreign-ministry/news/presseaus sendungen/2010/ephesos-praesentation-der-juengsten-grabungsergebnisse-in -istanbul. html. “Ephesus History-I.
” Ephesus [database on-line]; available from http://www. ephesus. us/ ephesus/ephesus_history. htm. “Excavations in Ephesus. ” Ephesus [database on-line]; available from http://www. ephesus. us/ ephesus/ephesus_excavations. htm. “Facts about David George Hogarth” [database on-=line]; available from http://www. britannica. com/facts/5/133182/David-George-Hogarth-as-discussed-in-Ephesus-ancient-city-Turkey Hayes, Holly, “The Virgin Mary In Ephesus” [database on-line]; available from http://www. sacred-destinations. com/turkey/ephesus-virgin-mary. htm.