History of Ephesus City

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The history of Ephesus City goes a long, long way back in time. Based on the legend, Ephesus or also sometimes spelled as Ephesos or Ephesis, was originally founded by the Amazons, a tribe composed of exceptional female warriors. It is said that the city’s name has been taken from "Apasas" which happens to be the name of a certain city belonging to the Kingdom of Arzawa that means “city of the Mother Goddess.” Also, according to several scholars, the labrys sign, the mother goddess’s double axe adorning the palace located at Knossos, Crete, came from Ephesus.

The Birth of Ephesus

The city was traced to have been inhabited right from the end of Bronze Age and beyond, although the place has been continuously changed to the floods as well as the whims of its different rulers. While the Lelegians and Carians were two of the very first inhabitants of the city, the Ionian migrations officially started around 1200 BCE, which is why the city is primarily known to be Ionian Greek City. Ephesus history started once again when it was founded for the second time by Androclus, and Ionian and Codrus’s son. The cities that have been established following the Ionian migrations have become part of the confederacy under the city’s leadership. During Cimmerian invasion at the start of 7th century, the region was greatly devastated but under the Lydian kings’ rule, Ephesus turned into among the Mediterranean world’s wealthiest city.

Ephesus became the hub of learning and was also the birthplace and home of Heraclitus, the great Pre-Socratic philosopher. The women then were able to enjoy privileges and right similar with the women, with records of female teachers, painters, artists, and sculptors. When night time falls, the city’s streets were brightened by the lit oil lamps, a luxury of those times that cannot be afforded by most cities.

The Construction of Temple of Artemis

During the rule of King Croesus of Lydia, the construction of the city’s Temple of Artemis was started, a great historical landmark that is included in the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. After King of Persia, Cyrus, has defeated Croesus, the entire Anatolia was put under the rule of Persia but despite this, Ephesus still continued with its prosperous state of being a vital trade port. When the city-states of Ionia rebelled against the rule of the Persians during 5th century BCE, the city still remained neutral, thus escaping from massive destruction caused by the Persians that has been experienced by many other cities.

Changes Under the Rule of Lysimachus

Ephesus remained under the rule of Persia until Alexander the Great liberated the city in 334 BCE. Upon setting foot on the city and discovering that the Temple of Artemis’s reconstruction was not yet completed, Alexander volunteer to have it rebuilt. However, his offer was refused by the Ephesians, claiming that it does not seem fitting for one god to build another god’s temple. One of Alexander’s generals, Lysimachus who later ruled the region following the death of Alexander, started the city’s development and renewal, which he named Arsineia to commemorate his wife, Arsinoe. Lysimachus constructed a brand new harbor, established defensive walls on slopes of the mountains of Bülbül and Panayir, as well as moved the whole city to about 2 miles to the southwest. However, the Ephesians once again refused the idea of leaving behind their homes and their city’s traditional site. According to the date found on Ephesus history, this made Lysimachus decide to block the sewage system of the city during a great storm which then rendered the Ephesians’ home uninhabitable, thus forcing them to move. The history of Ephesus City was then re-founded, now taking its old name over again, Ephesus, in 281 BCE, and continuing to be among the Mediterranean’s most vital commercial ports.

Under the Roman Empire

Ephesus was then acquired by the Roman Empire in 129 BC as based on the will left behind by King of Pergammon, Attalos, with the city being bequeathed by his kingdom. It was during that time when the Mithridates rebelled due to the heavy taxes which were imposed by the Roman government. In 88 BCE, all of the city’s Latin-speaking inhabitants were massacred during the sack and storming of Ephesus by the army of the Romans under Sulla. Ephesus then suffered grave damage during an earthquake that happened in 19 CE. But still, the city managed to stand up and once again becoming an important center of commerce and trade.

There were still many other significant changes that made up Ephesus history before it finally declined both in intellectual and culture pursuits after Christianity became the region’s dominant religion. The city streets that used to be adorned with highly maintained, lighted and statuary oil lamps during night time, turned into darkness and decay as the city’s then Christian citizens have been directed to the Second Coming of the Light of the World, Jesus Christ.

Private Ephesus Tours

65USD
Kusadasi Ephesus Tour

Private tour to Ephesus Ancient City Ruins and near by attractions. Excursion takes approximately 6 to 7 hours.

70USD
Izmir Ephesus Tour

Starting from Izmir, the tour of Ephesus. Covers the most important attractions around and takes 5 to 6 hours.

70USD
Istanbul Ephesus Tour

Fly from Istanbul to Izmir and explore the marvels of Ephesus & around privately.

Wondering what to see?

Basilica of St. John

The inhabitants of Ephesus moved to Ayasuluk after the 7th century AD, the Basilica of St. John substituted the church in Ephesus, one of the Seven Churches of Revelation.

Testimonials & Reviews

Our Guide brought Ephesus to life for us & was extremely informative; we even had people listening to him & complimenting him on being a much better guide than theirs from other companies. He guided us expertly to be at the front of the queues & out of the heat as quickly as possible.”

JoyLaister, York, United Kingdom

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