Ephesus the Seaport

October 10, 2001


Provided by: Martin Ruzek, USRA
Summary author: Martin Ruzek

Ephesus, founded in the 7th century BC, was the most important Greek city in Ionian Asia Minor and was noted for the magnificent Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. By the 2nd century, Ephesus was home to 300,000 people and a major center of trade. The theater in the foreground could seat 25,000 and the Library of Celsus was second only to Alexandria's. Located in western Turkey near modern-day Seljuq over 6 km from the coast (just off the top of this picture), it's hard to imagine that this city was once a major seaport. Emperor Constantine built the long colonnaded walk, the Arkadiane, from the theater to the harbor in the 4th century. However, by that time silt from the Cayster River, which today meanders lazily through the plains beyond the ruins, was already filling the harbor. By Byzantine times, the harbor was useless, and the site nearly forgotten until archeologists began uncovering parts of the city in the mid 19th century. The changing Earth, perhaps assisted by early civilization's land use in the Cayster watershed, was directly responsible for the demise of Ephesus.

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