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History of Ephesus
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The Founding of the City in Mythology

According to Greek mythology, the ancient city of Ephesus was established by Greeks in 11 Century B.C. by Androclos, the son of legendary King of Athens. He asked the oracles in Delphi where and how he could find a new settlement for Greeks. The answer of oracles was very interesting and simple.

According to oracles a wild boar and a fish would lead them to the site of the new settlement. One day, Androklos and his friends were cooking fish on an open fire, when a fish flew from the pan into the nearby bushes. Sparks from the fire also ignited the bushes and as they flared up, a wild boar ran out of the bushes to escape from the flames. Androklos pursued and killed the boar. Then he recalled the words of the oracles and built his city on this site.

The Settlements of Ephesus

Ephesus has been located at different places in different times. The first settlement of the city was located on Ayasuluk Hill and inhabited by ancient Anatolians ( Amazons, Hittites ), Carians and Lelegians. The second settlement of Ephesus was on the North of Mount Panayır ( Mount Pion ). As with other cities of the Aegean cost of Anatolia, Ephesus came to be ruled by Croesus of Lydia and Persians. The third settlement was located in the valley between Mount Panayır and Mount Bülbül ( Mount Coressus ), found by Lysimachus, one of the generals of Alexander The Great. This settlement of Ephesus is the biggest and can be visited today. Finally, due to the persistent silting up of the harbour and repeated raids by Arabs, the city changed its location back to Ayasuluk Hill forming Fourth Ephesus.

History of Ephesus

History of Ephesus

According to excevations,the history of Ephesus dates back to 6000 BC, to Chalcolithic Period. Excavations at the Ayasuluk Hill brought to light a settlement, thus ancient Ephesus was first on the located on Ayasuluk Hill. It was first settled by Anatolian Tribes, for Ephesus is mentioned in Hittite cuneiform tablets under the name of Apassas that means “Honey Bee”.

According to the ancient geographers Strabo and Pausanias, and the historian Herodotus claim that Ephesus was found by Amazons and the native tribes of the area were the Carians and the Lelegians around 3000 BC. Amazons gave the city’s name as Ephesos, can be named one of Queens or generals of Amazons. According to them Hittites came here around 1400 BC and changed the name of the city from Ephesos to Apassas. Ionian colonists came here around 1100 BC.

Archaic Period

About 650 BC, Ephesus was attacked by the Cimmerians, who razed the city, including the temple of Artemis. About 560 BC Ephesus was conquered by the Lydians under king Croesus. He treated the inhabitants with respect, despite ruling harshly, and even became the main contributor to the reconstruction of the temple of Artemis. His signature has been found on the base of one of the columns of the temple (now on display in the British Museum). Croesus made the populations of the different settlements around Ephesus regroup in the vicinity of the Temple of Artemis, enlarging the city. Later in the same century, the Lydians under Croesus invaded Persia. The Ionians refused a peace offer from Cyrus the Great, siding with the Lydians instead. After the Persians defeated Croesus the Ionians offered to make peace, but Cyrus insisted that they surrender and become part of the empire. They were defeated by the Persian army commander Harpagos in 547 BCE. The Persians then incorporated the Greek cities of Asia Minor into the Achaemenid Empire. Ephesus has intrigued archaeologists because for the Archaic Period there is no definite location for the settlement. There are numerous sites to suggest the movement of a settlement between the Bronze Age and the Roman period, but the silting up of the natural harbors as well as the movement of the Kayster River meant that the location never remained the same.

Hellenistic Period

When Alexander the Great defeated the Persian forces at the Battle of Granicus in 334 BC, the Greek cities of Asia Minor were liberated. The pro-Persian tyrant Syrpax and his family were stoned to death, and Alexander was greeted warmly when he entered Ephesus in triumph. After Alexander's death in 323 BC, Ephesus in 290 BC came under the rule of one of Alexander's generals, Lysimachus. As the river Cayster silted up the harbor, the resulting marshes caused malaria and many deaths among the inhabitants. The people of Ephesus were forced to move to a new settlement two kilometers which is the biggest and we see today. When Lysimachus died, Ephesus came under the rule of the Attalid king of Pergamon Eumenes II (197-133 BC). When his grandson Attalus III died without male children of his own, he left his kingdom to the Roman Republic.

Roman Period

When Augustus became emperor in 27 BC, he made Ephesus instead of Pergamum the capital of proconsular Asia, which covered western Asia Minor. Ephesus entered an era of prosperity. It became the seat of the governor, growing into a metropolis and a major center of commerce.

The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis who had her chief shrine there, the Library of Celsus , and its theatre, which was capable of holding 25,000 spectators. This open-air theater was used initially for drama, but during later Roman times gladiatorial combats were also held on its stage, with the first archaeological evidence of a gladiator graveyard found in May 2007. The population of Ephesus also had several major bath complexes , built at various points while the city was under Roman rule. The city had one of the most advanced aqueduct systems in the ancient world, with multiple aqueducts of various sizes to supply different areas of the city, including 4 major aqueducts.

The city and temple were destroyed by the Goths in 263. This marked the decline of the city's splendor.

Byzantine Period

Ephesus remained the most important city of the Byzantine Empire in Asia after Constantinople in the 5th and 6th centuries. The emperor Constantine I, rebuilt much of the city.Sackings by the Arabs first in the year 654-655 by caliph Muawiyah I, and later in 700 and 716 hastened the decline further. When the Seljuk Turks conquered Ephesus in 1090, it was a small village. The Byzantines resumed control in 1100 and changed the name of the town to Hagios Theologos. They kept control of the region until 1308. Crusaders passing through were surprised that there was only a small village, called Ayasalouk, where they had expected a bustling city with a large seaport. Even the temple of Artemis was completely forgotten by the local population.

Turkish Period

The town was conquered in 1304 by Sasa Bey, an army commander of the Menteşoğulları Principality. Shortly afterwards, it was ceded to the Aydınoğulları Principality that stationed a powerful navy in the harbour of Ayasuluğ (the present-day Selçuk , next to Ephesus). Ayasoluk became an important harbour, from whence the navy organised raids to the surrounding regions. The town knew again a short period of flourishing during the 14th century under these new Seljuk rulers. They added important architectural works such as the İsa Bey Mosque, caravansaries and Turkish bathhouses (hamam). They were incorporated as vassals into the Ottoman Empire for the first time in 1390. The Central Asian warlord Tamerlane defeated the Ottomans in Anatolia in 1402, and the Ottoman sultan Bayezid I died in captivity. The region was restored to the Anatolian Turkish Beyliks. After a period of unrest, the region was again incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1425.

Ephesus was eventually completely abandoned in the 15th century and lost her former glory. Nearby Ayasuluğ was renamed Selçuk in 1914.
 

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