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Ephesus - History and Architecture

The city of Ephesus was founded, according to Eusebius, in 1045 BC by Athenian and other Ionian colonists at the outfalls of the river Caystrus, close to two low elevations, the mount Preon or Lepre Akte and the mount Pion. The development of the city was fast and was related to the cult of Artemis, which in its local Ephesian version incorporated elements from the cult of Cybele. However, the real cause of its development, which culminates for the first time in the 6th century BC, was its financial strength. This strength was mainly based on the key commercial role of the city, since it connected the Aegean world with the Asia Minor inland area and consequently with the Orient in general.
During the Archaic Period philosophy and poetry flourish in the city, with artists like Heraclitus, Callinus and Hipponax. In the Classical Period Ephesus is an important art centre with painters like Zeuxis and Parhassius, while it attracts the most important sculptors of the Greek world, such as Polyclitus, Cresilas and Praxiteles. And if the fact that Alexander the Great passed from Ephesus proved to be the main reason for the Ephesians to declare their independence and their economic prowess, Lysimachus was the one who defined the city's character in the Hellenistic Period, with the large fortification works, the settlement and the city-planning expansion of the city.
At this period the city started to distinguish itself throughout the Mediterranean and could be compared only with Alexandria and Antioch. In the Roman Period the city's size increased extremely and became the second largest city in the empire after Rome. It was the favourite city of many emperors, as testified by the favorite treatment it received and the intensive building activity. Ephesus, an important centre of letters and sciences, is also the homeland of the doctors Soranus and Rufus. The city was one of the first centres of Christianity and one of the Seven Churches of Asia according to the Apocalypse. An indication of this special importance of the city to Christianity and to the cult of Virgin that replaced the one of Artemis, was the fact that the Third Ecumenical Council convened there.
Gradually Caystrus, through illuviation, blocked the city's harbor, depriving it of its most vital economic function and condemning it to decline. Later, when the Arabs arrived and afterwards the Seljuk Turks, the city was just a shadow of its former self.

This brief historical flashback clearly indicates the importance of the city of Ephesus and consequently its selection, after Priene, for the second volume in the series by the Foundation of the Hellenic World examining the history and architecture of significant Greek cities. The series focuses on the exhaustive examination of the architectural remains of Greek cities according to the most recent studies.

Sources for Ephesus were the numerous, and scattered to a large number of specialized journals, publications by the members of the Austrian Archaeological Institute, but also publications of other researchers who dealt with the various issues of city planning and architecture.

The present volume, which was published with the kind support of the J. F. Costopoulos, is the first one in Greek, but also the first one in general to collect such analytical texts, such a wealth of sources, a great number of architectural drawings and excellent illustration for the city of Ephesus. Our objective is to collect and organize a great wealth of information for the experts, but also to pleasantly incite people, who are interested in the history and architecture of Greek antiquity, to read the book.

PRIENE (2000)
FHW internal publication

This book presents in a unique way the architecture of Priene, a city in western Asia Minor, concisely recording all the material from the first excavation of 1894 up to the present day.


The Foundation of the Hellenic World, apart from its work dealing with innovative applications of modern technology, is also active in the field of printed publications, which contribute to the preservation and dissemination of the historical memory of Hellenism. Among the Foundation's publications are books about the history and culture of Hellenism all over the world, aesthetically pleasing albums, folklore fairy tales, journals and remarkable collaborations.

Results of search for "Ephesus" in FHW's Encyclopedia of the Hellenic World.