Foundation of Ephesus antique city, located in Selçuk district of İzmir City, goes back to 6000 B.C. Based on recent studies and excavations pre historical settlements and bronze age and Hittite settlements were determined to have resided in this area and the nearby Ayasuluk Hill where the castle can still be seen today.
The city was called Apasas during the Hittite period. Immigrants from Greece arrived and settled into the port city of Ephesus around 1050 B.C. and moved to Artemis Temple proximity in 560 B.C. Today’s Ephesus City was established by Lysimakhos,, one of the commanders of Alexander the Great, around 300 B.C. Ephesus experienced its most prosperous and magnificent times in Hellenistic and Roman periods as a capital of Asia state and as the largest harbour city and had a population of about 200,000 people. Ephesus relocated once more in the Byzantium period and moved to the Ayasuluk Hill in Selçuk District where it was initially established.
What are the most significant characteristics of Ephesus City?
As an important gate between east and west, Ephesus was primary harbour city. Such position enabled this city to become the most important political and commercial centre of its era; and made it capital of the Asia state in Roman period though this was not the sole reason which made Ephesus so important. The largest temple of the Artemis culture based on the mother-goddess Kybele tradition of Anatolia was located in Ephesus as well. Artemis Temple in Ephesus is considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Ayasuluk was conquered by Turks in 1330 and became the capital of Aydınoğulları State. This district steadily became smaller after 16th Century and was renamed Selçuk after Turkish Republic announcement in 1923. Today Selçuk is a tourism town with a population of 30,000 people. Ephesus, one of the most significant places of the antique world, has played a major role in civilization, science, culture and art fields in its history dating back to 4000 B.C.
Since Ephesus has re-located along its history multiple times, its ruins are scattered across a large area. Various excavation and restoration activities has been implemented on these ruins which is distributed across an area of approximately 8 km² and the following sections has been opened to visitors;
1- Ayasuluk Hill (the earliest settlement location dated 3000 B.C. from Byzantium period; St.Jean Church of significant importance to Christians),
2- Artemision (an important religious centre from 9th-4th Centuries; hosts Artemis Temple, one of the seven wonders of the world)
3- Ephesus (settlement of Archaic-Classical-Hellenistic-Roman and Byzantium Period),
4- Selçuk (important settlement in periods of Seljukian and Ottoman and today’s prominent tourism county) and Ephesus, significant civilization centre in the antique age welcome about 1.5 million visitor annually.
The preliminary archaeological excavations in Ephesus were commenced by J.T. Wood on behalf of the British Museum in 1869. Wood’s srch to find the famous Artemis Temple were continued by D.G. Hogarth afterwards in 1904. Austrian excavations, continued to date, were initiated by Otto Benndorf in 1895. Studies of the Austrian Archaeology Institute interrupted during the 1st and 2nd World Wars were continued after 1954 without any interference. In addition to studies of the Austrian Archaeology Institute, Ephesus Museum has been maintaining excavations, restorations and organizations since 1954 on behalf of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.