Thursday, August 12, 2010

BLACK SEA PART 12: EPHESUS

Our last stop in Turkey was the western seaport of Kusadasi, gateway to the famous New Testament city of Ephesus. It was to the Christian population of this ancient city that Paul wrote letters from his prison cell in Rome that became the book of Ephesians, including: "Now ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God, and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone." Paul stresses that theme of appropriate leadership and a strong foundation several times in Ephesians.

It's no wonder Paul was worried about the Ephesians. During his time, Ephesus was a huge Roman city of 400,000 or 500,000 inhabitants, second only to Rome in importance in the Empire. Paul lived there from 52 to 54 A.D., and he had experienced first-hand the struggles of the Christian Ephesians as they dealt with the multitude of Roman gods and goddesses.

What is left of Ephesus (or at least what has been uncovered, as according to our guide only 10-15% of the city has been excavated) is all Roman. I would have never guessed there was a thriving Christian colony here.


A small amphitheater:
Evidence of ongoing restoration/reconstruction:
The Temple of Domitian:

Looking back towards the entrance. You can see how crowded it was the day we were there:

And looking down towards the bottom of the Grand Promenade:

The Fountain of Emperor Trajan, constructed around 102 A.D. (and currently undergoing reconstruction/restoration):

An exquisite mosaic walkway, one of the few things tourists weren't allowed to climb all over:


The spectacular Temple of Hadrian:

Public toilets that are (thankfully) not currently in use:

Whether in Greek or German, it's ALL Greek to me! There were a lot of signs in German.


And finally, the imposing, magnificent Library of Celsus, to which the main road leads. Completed in 135 AD, it was built to hold 12,000 scrolls, and also as a tomb for Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus (quite the mouthful), the Roman governor of the province of Asia:
This was the third richest library in ancient times. The library was restored between 1970 and 1978 with the help of the Austrian Archaeological Institute, which explains why there are so many signs written in German.
A system of double walls protected the scrolls from the humid air rolling in off the Aegean Sea.
Here is the interior, which has not been restored. It measures 55 x 36 feet (1980 square feet):

Below this beautiful arch once lay Celsus's tomb. I'm not sure where the poor guy is now:

Lots of reconstruction seems to be going on, although while we were there, the equipment was all silent.

We love all the cats in Turkey. Like the cats in Rome, they are everywhere:

The walkway leading out, perpendicular to the Grand Promenade:

Looking back at the Library of Celsus. The surrounding hills look a lot like the area where I grew up:

The other massive, iconic structure of Ephesus is this amphitheater near the exit from the ruins. It is in amazingly good shape, and like the other ruins, you can climb all over it. In its day it seated 25,000 guests and was used for concerts and plays, religious and philosophical lectures, and gladiator and animal fights. It is the setting for Acts 19:27-41, in which Paul denounces the Ephesian worship of Diana. His companions are captured and taken to the amphitheater to be put on trial in front of masses who, for two hours, roar, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." Somehow, Paul himself escapes capture. However, the two men are defended by Alexander, himself a Jew, who reminds the mob that they must follow the rules of law, and it appears that Paul's friends were released.
The column cemetery, once the agora (marketplace):

On our way out, there was a "living history" re-enactment going on. I think it was being done by one of the other cruise lines. It was a bit kitschy (okay, a LOT kitschy), but fun nevertheless. This guy made me think of Paul's admonition to the Ephesians to "put on the whole armor of God." However, this poor soldier doesn't have the most important piece, "the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."

Of course, there was the usual tourist shopping area before we hit the buses. Turkey is known for its fabrics, and, following Paul's counsel not to purchase vain idols (being manufactured en masse in Paul's Ephesus), instead I bought a tablerunner/scarf from this guy:

We had one more stop in the Kusadasi region before leaving Turkey for good. Up next: Mary's house. (Yes, THE Mary.)

3 comments:

  1. Wow, a calorie-free post! I love the ancient outhouses--they look a lot like the ones at girl's camp. What interesting architecture!

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  2. Fun pictures. I don't know what sparrow would say to you about all those other cat pictures :)

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  3. Is the the same Hadrian that built a wall way up in England, where we were a couple of years ago? That guy got around. I think you and Bob look fabulous there in the ruins. Great post.

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