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The Founding of the City in Mythology

According to Greek mythology, the ancient city of Ephesus was built by Greeks around 11 Century B.C. by Androclos, the son of legendary King of Athens. According to story, he asked the oracles in Delphi where and how he could find a new settlement for Greeks. The answer of oracles was very interesting and simple.

According to oracles a wild boar and a fish would help them to show where they would built the new city of Greeks.. One day, Androklos and his friends were cooking fish on an open fire, when a fish flew from the pan into the bushes, a wild boar started to run a way, most probably he scared from the fish. Then Androklos remembered the story and followed the wild boar and killed him. He decided to built new city nearby where he killed the wild boar. This a great mythological story that is always told by tour guides in Ephesus during the Private Tour in Ephesus.

The Settlements of Ephesus

Ancient City of Ephesus was built 4 times in different places. The first settlement of the city was built on Ayasuluk Hill and inhabited by ancient Anatolians ( Amazons, Hittites ), Carians and Lelegians. The second settlement of Ephesus was built on the slope Mount Panayır. As with other Greek cities of the Aegean cost of Anatolia, Ephesus came to be ruled by Croesus of Lydia and Persians. The third settlement of Ephesus was located in the valley between Mount Panayır and Mount Bülbül ( Mount Coressus ), found by Lysimachus, one of the generals of Alexander The Great. This settlement of Ephesus is the biggest and can be visited today. Finally, because of silting up of the harbour and repeated raids by Arabs, the city changed its location back to Ayasuluk Hill forming Fourth Ephesus, that is very closed to Selcuk City. Different settlements of Ephesus will be shown to the visitors by their tour guides in Ephesus during Izmir Ephesus Private Tours.

History of Ephesus

According to last excevations in Ephesus,the history of Ephesus dates back to 6000 BC, to Chalcolithic Period. Excavations at the Ayasuluk Hill brought to light a settlement, so we do understand the first city was located at the top of Ayasuluk Hill. It was the first settled by Anatolian Tribes, for Ephesus is mentioned in Hittite cuneiform tablets under the name of Apassas that means “Honey Bee”. According to the ancient geographers Strabo and Pausanias, and the historian Herodotus claim that Ephesus was found by Amazons and the native tribes of the area were the Carians and the Lelegians around 3000 BC. Amazons gave the city’s name as Ephesos, most probably can be named one of Queens or generals of Amazons. According to them Hittites came here around 1400 BC and changed the name of the city from Ephesos to Apassas. Then Ionian colonists came here around 1100 BC.

Archaic Period

About 650 BC, Cimmerians attacked the city of Ephesus, then city razed, including the temple of Artemis. About 560 BC Ephesus was conquered by the Lydians, by King Croesus. He treated the inhabitants with respect and reconstructed of the Temple of Artemis that was fully destroyed by an earthquake. His signature has been found on the base of one of the columns of the temple (now on display in the British Museum). Later in the same century, the Lydians under Croesus invaded Persia. The Ionians refused a peace offer from Cyrus the Great, siding with the Lydians instead. After the Persians defeated Croesus the Ionians offered to make peace, but Cyrus insisted that they surrender and become part of the empire. They were defeated by the Persian army commander Harpagos in 547 BCE. The Persians then incorporated the Greek cities of Asia Minor into the Achaemenid Empire. Ephesus has intrigued archaeologists because for the Archaic Period there is no definite location for the settlement. There are numerous sites to suggest the movement of a settlement between the Bronze Age and the Roman period, but the silting up of the natural harbors as well as the movement of the Kayster River meant that the location never remained the same.

Hellenistic Period

When Alexander the Great defeated the Persian forces at the Battle of Granicus in 334 BC, the Greek cities of Asia Minor were liberated. After Alexander's death in 323 BC, all of his empire was shared by his generals, and Lysimachus conquered the city. On the same time, River Cayster silted up the harbor of Ephesus, then marshes caused malaria and many deaths among the inhabitants. The people in Ephesus were forced to move to a new settlement two kilometers which is the biggest and we visit today.

Roman Period

When Augustus became emperor in 27 BC, he made Ephesus the capital of proconsular Asia, which covered western Asia Minor. Ephesus entered an era of prosperity. It became the seat of the governor, growing into a metropolis and a major center of commerce. The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis who had her chief shrine there, the Library of Celsus , and its theatre, which was capable of holding 25,000 spectators. The visitors do not skip to take the pictures of these gorgeous places during a Private Ephesus Tour. The population of Ephesus also had several major bath complexes , built at various points while the city was under Roman rule. It is estimated that there were around 250.000 people were living in Ephesus on this age. The city had one of the most advanced aqueduct systems in the ancient world, with multiple aqueducts of various sizes to supply different areas of the city, including 4 major aqueducts.

Byzantine Period

Ephesus remained the most important city of the Byzantine Empire in Asia after Constantinople in the 5th and 6th centuries. The Byzantines resumed control in 1100 and changed the name of the town to Hagios Theologos. They kept control of the region until 1308. Crusaders passing through were surprised that there was only a small village, called Ayasalouk, where they had expected a bustling city with a large seaport. Even the temple of Artemis was completely forgotten by the local population.

Turkish Period

The town was conquered in 1304 by Sasa Bey, a commander of the Mentesogulları Principality. Shortly afterwards, it was ceded to the Aydınogulları Principality that stationed a powerful navy in the harbour of Ayasuluk (the present-day Selcuk , next to Ephesus). Ayasoluk became an important harbour, from whence the navy organised raids to the surrounding regions. The town knew again a short period of flourishing during the 14th century under these new Seljuk rulers. They added important architectural works such as the İsa Bey Mosque, caravansaries and Turkish bathhouses (hamam). They were incorporated as vassals into the Ottoman Empire for the first time in 1390. The Central Asian warlord Tamerlane defeated the Ottomans in Anatolia in 1402, and the Ottoman sultan Bayezid I died in captivity. The region was restored to the Anatolian Turkish Beyliks. After a period of unrest, the region was again incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1425.

Ephesus was eventually completely abandoned in the 15th century and lost her former glory.

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