The Temple of Artemis

The Temple of Artemis was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. This temple was completed around 550 B.C., although nothing remains today but fragments. There is evidence of a sanctuary dating back to the Bronze Age on that site.

Artemis was the Greek goddess of the hunt. As the twin of Apollo, she became goddess of the moon.

In the seventh century BC, a flood destroyed the temple. Despite this, it continued to be rebuilt in the same location. Subsequent floods continued to deposit sand and dirt, raising the level of the temple over the years. It is believed that this location was seen as sacred to many people since the Bronze Age, and it remains sacred to this day.

In 356 B.C., the Temple was destroyed by an arsonist named Herostratus. Legend records that he destroyed the temple in order to ensure his fame. Although the Ephesians were outraged and swore to destroy his name forever, the historian Strabo made a note of it, and it survives to this day in the term herostratic fame. Interestingly, Alexander the Great was born on that same night. Although Alexander later offered to pay for the restoration of the temple, the Ephysians refused. It was eventually restored in 323 BC, after his death.

The temple was destroyed again in a Gothic raid in 262 A.D. It was again rebuilt, and stood until Paul of Tarsus arrived. As he prayed in the temple, he exercised the demons and caused the altar to split. Half of the Temple fell, and a majority of the Ephysians converted instantly to Christianity. By 391 A.D., Theodosius the first closed all the temples. The temple was torn down in 401 by a Christian mob, its stones used in other building projects (including the Hagia Sophia, which used columns from the temple).

A column assembled from fragments marks the site of the Temple of Artemis at Selcuk, near Ephesus in Turkey. Courtesy Wikipedia.