Images of Antiquity: Ephesus, Pt. 5

In this set of pictures, we will be looking at ancient Ephesus. If you copy or download the pictures, please do not manipulate or change them in any form from their current state. Otherwise, feel free to use them. Enjoy.

In the first photo, you can see a number of things in the background but the focus is on the mosaic sidewalk. The design on the sidewalk is very detailed and intricate as it forms a number of artistic pictures. One of the things you realize when you travel through these ancient cities is that there were many talented artists who paved the way for much of how the Western world does art today. The sidewalk on which the mosaic rests is a much smaller part of a long street, one of the main streets that ran through the city. Also, the mosaic sits in front of a number of small workshops and houses. You can also see some columns running alongside the sidewalk, which takes us to photo #2.

In the second photo, you see me, posing behind a statue. These were "caesar" statues and they were placed at the top of this main road, among other places. Thus, when people entered Ephesus, they would see statues of the current caesar. In all of the ingenuity, the makers of these statues created the body portion in such a way that the head portion could come off. This saved them a lot of time and money. So, when a new caesar came to power, they would only have to replace the head portion and not the whole statue.

In picture three, you can see the mosaic sidewalk again, as well as the stores and small houses that I mentioned above. It might have been these types of shops that Paul often worked out of. One thing that makes this photo very interesting is placing it next to photo #4. In picture #4, you see a portion of a large, ancient mansion. This mansion is right next door to all of the small homes. In fact, about 10-15 of the small homes could have fit inside the mansion. You can see all of the artwork and elaborate luxuries of the mansion. There is a good chance that when someone like the author of John spoke of a mansion with many rooms, this is what he envisioned.

Close to the mansion, right next door to it actually, was The Library of Celsus. This was one of the largest libraries in all of antiquity during Paul's day. No doubt Paul visited this library, after all, he was fond of quoting Greek literature from time-to-time. In this picture, you can see a large mountain in the background. Legend has it--and I emphasize "legend" for a reason--that this is where Mary, the mother of Jesus lived out the rest of her life once Jesus died (supposedly, she lived here with the apostle John).

It is not hard to see how Christians in Ephesus might have wanted to emphasize "Mary," the mother of Jesus. After all, Ephesus was a center for worship of the goddess Artemis (perhaps Christians, in light of the Artemis cult, felt as though they needed a woman to venerate). In picture six, you can see a statue of Artemis (one of many Artemis statues). In this one, she has bulbs or balls all over her. There have been many theories as to what these bulbs are. I would argue that they are eggs, that is fertility eggs. Artemis was often noted for being a fertility goddess. She was also known as the huntress goddess. In the photo, though you can't really see them, there are animal medallions all over her. Lions, wolves, etc. This actually leads us to the next photo.

In photo #7, you see the Ephesian theater. We are told in Acts and elsewhere that Paul was familiar with this theater, indeed, he was taken there to be tried before some of the people who owned Artemis statue making businesses. The people complained that he was driving their business away. In 1 Cor. Paul says that he fought with the "wild beasts" in Ephesus, I think that he is referring to worshippers of Artemis (the huntress and fertility goddess). Finally, in picture #8, you see an ancient baptismal font (probably 4th century AD or later). A few feet away from this font, supposedly, lies the apostle John's body (in a chamber).

I could say much more about Ephesus but that is all time will permit at this point. If you ever have the chance to visit Turkey, make sure you visit Ephesus. Next to Corinth, Philippi and Athens in Greece, anicent Ephesus in Turkey is one of the greatest remaining sites of antiquity to date.

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