Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday's Seven Wonders - The Temple of Artemis

(The Lady of Ephesus, "Beautiful Artemis," 1st century CE (Museum of Ephesus), Efes, Turkey)

The Temple of Artemis was a Greek temple - the first temple dedicated to the Greek goddes, Artemis, the virginal huntress and twin of Apollo - probably built around 800 B.C. at Ephesus (in present-day Turkey). Nothing remains of the temple, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The temple was rebuilt and completed around 600 B.C. under the Achaemenid dynasty of the Persian Empire, but it didn't last long. This temple was destroyed in 550 B.C. A new and larger temple was then constructed by a man named Theodorus. Theodorus's temple was 300 feet in length and 150 feet wide with an area four times the size of the temple before it. More than one hundred stone columns supported a massive roof. This temple was destroyed on July 21, 356 BC in an act of arson committed by a man named Herostratus. According to the story, his motivation was fame at any cost, thus the term herostratic fame. This very same night, Alexander the Great was born. It is rumored Artemis was too preoccupied with Alexander's delivery to save her burning temple. Alexander later offered to pay for the temple's rebuilding, but the Ephesians refused. Eventually, the temple was restored after Alexander's death, in 323 BC.

This hand-colored engraving by Martin Heemskerck depicts the reconstruction of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, depicted here in a hand-coloured engraving by Heemskerck and dates from the 16th century and it is entirely imaginery. Heemskerck tried to capture the reconstruction of what the Temple of Artemis might have looked like.

The last temple was built by Scopas of Paros. The building is thought to be the first completely constructed with marble and one of its must unusual features were 36 columns whose lower portions were carved with figures in high-relief. This Temple of Artemis was destroyed during a raid by the Goths in 262 A.D

The site of the temple today, located on a marshy field. A single column is erect to remind visitors of the place where one of the wonders of the ancient world used to be located.

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