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Ephesus was one one of the great cities of the Ionian Greeks in Asia Minor. It was colonized principally from Athens. It was located in modern day Turkey.

Roman Ephesus

The capital of Roman Republic proconsular Asia, which was the western part of Asia Minor. In the time of the Romans it bore the title of "the first and greatest metropolis of Asia." It was distinguished for the Temple of Artemis (Diana), who had her chief shrine there, for its library, and for its theatre, which was the largest in the world, capable of holding 50,000 spectators. It was, like all ancient theatres, open to the sky. Here were exhibited the fights of wild beasts and of men with beasts.

Ephesus is mentioned in the Bible. The Epistle to Ephesians is a letter written by Paul to the Christians at Ephesus. According to one legend, the Virgin Mary settled in Ephesus after the crucifixion. There is also a letter written by Ignatius of Antioch to the Ephesians.

Modern Ephesus

A part of the site of this once famous city is now occupied by a small Turkish village, Ayasaluk, of which name is regarded as a corruption of the two Greek words, hagios theologos, i.e. "the holy divine." It is a vast site, not yet completely excavated but what is visible gives some idea of its original splendour and the names associated with it are evocative of its former life. The amphitheatre is huge and in a very outstanding position which dominates the view down Harbour Street leading to the harbour, long since silted up. The library, in its part of the city is still a very large structure, built by a Roman in memory of his father, Celsus. That building faces east so that the reading rooms could make best use of the morning light. It is unfortunate that the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world , is represented only by one inconspicuous column. A house about 7kms from Selcuk, which lies just outside Ephesus is said to have been the last home of the Virgin Mary and is a place of pilgrimage. The structure dates back to the 7th century and presumably is built on the site of the house where she lived.

Initial text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897 -- Please update as needed

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