What is Ephesus?
, the most important commercial city of Asia Minor, "one of the eyes of Asia," Smyrna, 40 miles to the north, being the other. Ephesus stood upon the south side of a plain, with mountains on three sides and the Icarian Sea on the west. The river Cayster ran across the plain. Scripture History. -- Paul visited Ephesus on his second tour. Acts 18:19-21; Apollos was instructed there by Aquila and Priscilla, Acts 18:24-26; Paul dwelt there 3 years, Acts 19; charged the elders of the church, Acts 20:16-28; the angel of the church of Ephesus is named in Rev 2:1-7. The city is a complete desolation; the ruins of the Stadium and theatre remain, but wild beasts haunt them. On the plain is a little Turkish village called Ayasolouk, from St. John, who is supposed to have ended his days at Ephesus. The ancient city often changed its name and its site. In the time of the Trojan war it was called Alopes, then Orthygia, next Morges, then Smyrna, Trachse, and Samornion, then Ptelae, then Ephesus, and now Ayasolouk. Buildings. -- In apostolic times Ephesus contained three remarkable buildings: 1. The Temple of Diana, one of the Seven Wonders of the world. It was erected at the joint cost of all Asia, and was 220 years in building. Its length was 425 feet, and its breadth 220 feet. Built of purest marble, it is said to have gleamed like a meteor. Columns of Parian marble, 60 feet high and 127 in number, supported the roof. Its doors were of carved cypress. The jambs were of marble, and the transom above was a single block of vast dimensions, reputed to have been put in place by the goddess herself. The hall contained famous pieces of sculpture by Praxiteles, Phidias, and other masters; in the gallery, hung with master-pieces of paintings, one by Apelles is estimated to have cost upward of $190,000. In the centre of the court was an image of the goddess, which the superstitious people believed fell down from heaven. Acts 19:35. See Diana. Ephesus fell a prey to the Goths, a.d. 262, and the remains of its magnificent temple were hidden from the world until brought to light, in 1869, by Mr. J.T. Wood, who spent eleven years, from 1863 to 1874, in exploration about the ancient city. He found two large stones containing inscriptions in Greek and Latin recording that certain walls were built by order of Augustus, b.c. 6. Twenty feet below the surface was found a pavement belonging to the most ancient of the three temples which rose successively to Diana. The first temple, enlarged and beautified and called the second temple, was set on fire b.c. 356, on the night Alexander the Great was born. Some 2000 mediaeval coins were discovered in 1871, which are now in the British Museum. 2. The Theatre, Acts 19:29, the largest structure of its kind built by the Greeks, and claimed to be capable of seating 50,000 spectators. Mr. Wood estimated its seating capacity at 24,500 persons. 3. The Stadium, or Circus, 685 feet long by 200 feet wide, an arena in which the Ephesian people witnessed foot-racings, wrestlings, and fights with wild beasts. The combatants were usually condemned criminals, who were sent naked into the arena to be torn in pieces by the wild beasts. 1 Cor 15:32. The victims were sometimes exposed at the end of the combat, which gives great vividness to the apostle's figure in 1 Cor 4:9. Some of these games were held in honor of Diana, and the silver shrines or images of the goddess made by Demetrius and his fellow-craftsmen were eagerly purchased for household idols by visitors. Acts 19:24. A railroad has been built from Ephesus to Smyrna by an English company.