The temple of Artemis was one of the first buildings to be constructed in marble.
Temple of Artemis was built and rebuilt several times in history. The temple was the centre of activity with priests, court members etc always present there in its good days. Following is the historical record of this one among the seven wonders of the ancient world birth and death.
The first building of the temple of Artemis was built in and around 800 BC near the bank of the river Ephesus. The Ephesus Artemis was a goddess of fertility and was often pictured as draped with eggs or multiple breasts, symbols of fertility, from her waist to her shoulders.
In around 650 BC, King Croesus of Lydia conquered Ephesus and the other Greek cities of Asia Minor and during the fighting; the temple of Artemis was destroyed. This king brought the architect Theodorus to build the temple.
This temple of Artemis was the centre of wonderful pieces of art and architecture. Wealthy citizens of those times donated gold, silver, jewelry from their side to beautify this temple. One unusual feature of the temple was that a number of columns had bases that were carved with figures in relief.
This magnificent work of art was burnt down in 356 BC by a psychopath Herostratus who wanted to become famous in history. The citizens of Ephesus were so furious by this act that after torturing Herostratus to death, they issued a decree that anyone who even spoke of his name would be put to death.
This was the same time in history when the Great Alexander was born too.
Twenty-two years later, during his sweep through Asia Minor, Alexander the Great offered to reconstruct the temple of Artemis. In the famous refusal recorded by Strabo, the Ephesians said it would not be right for one god to build a temple to another god.
Construction of Great temple
The Temple of Artemis was rebuilt in the same wet location as before and on a raised platform once again. By this point Ephesus was one of the greatest cities in Asia Minor and no expense was spared in the reconstruction. The wet locations were selected for the building of temple was due to the fact that it would help protect the structure from the earthquakes which plagued the region.
The Temple of Artemis was discovered for the British Museum in 1869 by the English railroad engineer J. T. Wood after a seven year search, during which he suffered badly from malaria. His successor on behalf of the British Museum, the Englishman D. G. Hogarth recommenced excavations in 1904/05. Not only did he investigate the temple of Artemis, but also the older foundations within the court of the temple. New excavations, initiated by the Australian museum of Archeology are still in progress. Today a 13 feet lone structure stands at that place as a reminder to the magnificence of this temple.
Christianity Brings an End to Artemis Worship
St Paul came to the city of Ephesus to propagate the new religion of Christianity in and around 57 AD. He was successful in his endeavor. Demitrius who was die hard supporter of Artemis religion gave tough fight to St Paul in expanding his religion. In the later years it was Christianity only that won.
By 263 AD, the temple had been plundered by Nero and destroyed by the Goths. Both the city and the religion of Artemis were in decline. The temple was rebuilt again, but in 391 it was closed by the Roman Emperor Theodosius the Great after he made Christianity the state religion. The temple itself was destroyed by a Christian mob in 401 and the stoned was recycled into other buildings.
When the Roman Emperor Constantine rebuilt much of Ephesus a century later, he declined to restore the temple. He too had become a Christian and had little interest in pagan religions.
The Temple of Artemis was surrounded by priests and priestesses, musicians, dancers, and acrobats. The temple had its own mounted police and the city became rich from the silver statues and ex-votes offered to Diana. Unfortunately, all that remains of the Wonder of the World is a single column and some rubble on the ground. Some of the stone is believed to have been used for the nearby mosque and most of the archaeological remains have been removed to the British Museum.