Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Life Swift
Published on September 21, 2023
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

The Temple of Artemis (also known as the Artemesium) at Ephesus was constructed in the 6th century BCE. It was built in Ephesus (modern Turkey) and is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World due to its religious and architectural significance. Antipater of Sidon included it on his definitive list of monuments. It was located on the rim of the Greek world. This helped to provoke admiration to non-Greeks of the vastness of the Greek world.


The Greek goddess Artemis is the goddess of the moon and the hunt. King Croesus of Lydia built this temple as an honor to her. The classic temple was designed and built by Cherisiphron. He was an architect from Crete. His son Metagenes fully assisted him during the entire construction.


The location of the temple was at a commercial crossroads in Asia Minor. Due to this, it attracted the variety of visitors. Visitors were not just of one religion. They had varying religious beliefs. The cult of Artemis also combined elements of worship of other deities, such as Cybele. Cybele is an earth-mother goddess of the region around Turkey. This made people of other religion come to temple.

Also, the cult status within the temple was likely reminiscent of this Near-Eastern goddess. It had several breasts (a symbol of fertility). It also portrayed in statuary with legs closed. These were tapering as a pillar or a sarcophagus. It was quite different than classical Greek statues.


The design of the temple was quite different than common Greek temples. It was not of the typical rectangle portico. But, it was actually a mixture of Classic Greek and Near-Eastern design and execution. There were 127 Ionic columns which stood 60 feet high as main decoration. The temple was a large marble building. It measured 377 feet by 180 feet. The columns drums had high-relief sculptural scenes adding to its beauty. Making it simple would not have made it that iconic.

Looking at the interiors of the temple, it featured sculptures of Amazon warriors. They had hidden from pursuant Greek gods at Ephesus.  Greek sculptors, such as Polyclitus and Pheidias had designed the interiors. There were different paintings on walls. It also had gilded columns of gold and silver. The cult statue was not as huge as the statue of Zeus at Olympia. But it can be called “life-sized”. It stood upon a marble pedestal and was inside the temple.


Later History

On July 21, 356 BCE, Herostratus destroyed the temple for personal fame. There was nothing personal or a valid reason for destroying Artemis. After the death of Alexander- the Great, the temple was reconstructed. Some say that people waited for Alexander’s death as he had been born on July 21, 356 BCE, the day when the temple was destroyed.

Unfortunately, Artemis was destroyed again in 262 CE by the Goths. Presently, there are very little remains of the Artemesium. Its location was actually discovered in 1869.  As the excavation begun, several artifacts were excavated. These are now housed at the British Museum in London. At the actual location at Ephesus, only a lonely reconstructed column stands today. It marks a poignant reminder of the grandiose and gleaming temple which has rich place in history.