Wonders of the Ancient World: Temple of Artemis in Ephesus –

It is known as “the seven wonders of the ancient world» to those monuments that, approximately between the second and first centuries BC, were considered to deserve a special place for their magnificence, their sumptuousness and their beauty. Generally, even today, millennia after their construction and, except in one of their cases, also after their disappearance, these monuments are still usually known by the general public. Unfortunately, however, not all of these wonders enjoy the same fame, and then we want to talk to you about one of the lesser known: the temple of Artemis in Ephesus.

Temple of Artemis in Ephesus

Artemis or Artemis was one of the most important goddesses of the Greek pantheon, later identifying herself with Diana in the field of Roman religion. This goddess was the protector of hunting, forests and all the elements of naturealso having a great link with the idea of ​​the virginity, the protection of girls and maidens and processes related to women’s health. She was also the main divinity of the city of Ephesus, which was located in present-day Turkey, where the great temple was built in her honor and became a true legend as one of the wonders of the world.

The Artemis’ temple It was built on a site that, according to historians, had been used as a space for devotion to the earth or mother goddess since at least the Bronze Age. In fact, before the construction of the temple that would become admirable for his contemporaries, on that same site, there had been another great temple dedicated to this goddess that was destroyed after floods. It was decided to rebuild it with great splendor and, around the year 550 a. C. began the construction of a new temple, generally considered the first Greek temple built entirely of marble.

Not only its construction in marble, which would become popular later, was a novelty for this temple. Their enormous dimensions also left their contemporaries speechless: it was made up of 127 columns of Ionic order approximately 13 meters high. The columns were the most outstanding aspect of this temple in that the statue dedicated to Artemis and the place of devotion itself occupied a relatively small space among this authentic forest of columns that served as a passageway that led to it. According to Pliny, dozens of these columns were decorated with reliefs of different types and in this temple were also the rich gifts that were left to the goddess, from coins to rich jewels, passing through all kinds of objects of great value at the time.

In front of this temple, whose façade already conveyed the magnificence that could be seen inside, was a well-cared yard that was related to the scope of protection of this goddess. This temple, moreover, was not the only one that was in the same area, as there were several buildings around it that researchers are still trying to elucidate. Its construction took one hundred and twenty years to complete. and, how could it be otherwise given its duration, several architects participated in it, among which Quesifronte and Metagenes stand out. Its magnificence immediately caught the attention of its contemporaries and it became one of the great monuments of the Greek world.

What happened to the Temple of Artemis?

However, in the year 356 BC c., this magnificent temple was reduced to ashes. The fire that destroyed it was not accidental. Apparently a man named Herostratus set it on fire to gain immortal fame. Certainly he got it. Although the city authorities forbade his name to be mentioned again so that the criminal would not achieve his goal, his identity passed to posterity, as the Greek historian Theopompus mentions him when he describes what happened. In fact, his name became so popular that it ended up giving rise to several terms, such as the so-called “Erostratos complex” or the term “erostratic fame”, among others.

Legend has it that, at the same time that the temple was burning, Alexander the Great and that Artemis was so busy watching over that birth that she couldn’t save her own temple. Alexander himself was concerned about its reconstruction and offered to pay for it, although the reconstruction did not begin until the same year of his death, in 323 BC. C. This temple followed the design of the previous one, but had even larger dimensions. It was 137 long, 69 meters wide and 18 meters high, with another 127 columns of this last length supporting its structure.

The reconstruction of this wonder, which is what we can consider to be the building itself that entered this peculiar list, survived approximately 600 years after its construction. There are various testimonies of its appearance and, even during the first expansion of Christianity, various preachers came to Ephesus and set their sights on the temple as a way of supporting their preaching. In fact, there was an apocryphal testimony, which practically became a legend, which said that the apostle John preached in the temple of Ephesus, sacralizing the place and thus causing his altar to explode and the monument to collapse. But this is far from being true and it was not until the year 268 AD. C. that the temple was destroyed during an assault by the Goths on the city of Ephesus. His remains were later scattered and used to build other buildings. The best known example is that of the Basilica of Santa Sofía, today a mosque, built with columns from this great temple.

Little is preserved today of this wonder of the world. Several archaeological expeditions carried out during the second half of the 19th century were dedicated to recovering its memory. The most important remains of the temple are preserved today in the british museum london, given that the aforementioned expeditions were led and financed by British people and institutions. Currently, on the original site where the temple was erected there are not many remains, but only with the small fragments that remain to us today, we can already imagine the magnificence of this building that conquered the imagination of its contemporaries.

Video about the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus

If you want to know more about this great temple, we recommend that you watch the following video:

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