The site of Ephesus provides an example of how geologic processes keep working whether or not we pay attention. According to Acts 18:21, the Apostle Paul set sail from Ephesus, only to return later by an overland route. However, if you sail to the archeological site of Ephesus today, you will dock at Kusadusi rather than at the ruins of Ephesus. Why? Because over the past 2000 years the Cayster River filled the port with silt, and kept depositing silt and building its delta until the site of Ephesus now sits about three miles from the coast. (By the way, I grew up near the Caster River in SE Missouri, and wonder if the names are related.)

Ephesus and Kusadusi are both in Turkey. The fortress seen below guards the approach to Kusadusi’s harbor, and if you look closely and maybe squint a little, you can see the red Turkish flag flying over the central tower.

Fortress guarding the harbor at Kusadusi, Turkey.

Acts 19 reports that Paul returned to Ephesus and spent at least three months preaching and teaching the Gospel. However, as more people became Christians, fewer people bought locally-made silver shrines of Artemis. Maybe the tourist trade was falling off, too. Regardless, Artemis was an important goddess in the well-organized polytheistic Greek religion(s), and the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (try saying that 10 times quickly) was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Until it burned down.

Scripture is clear that gods made by human hands are not really gods, and the account in Acts 19 explains that this teaching plus loss of business angered the silversmiths who made the small silver shrines. When their anger boiled over, they instigated a riot that led to scads of people chanting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians” for about two hours in the amphitheater seen below. You can read the rest of the Acts 19 account for yourself. Suffice it to say that the crowd eventually dispersed, but the theater and Christianity remain to this day.

Amphitheater where local merchants accused Paul of destroying their trade.

The amphitheater is still in use, as the good condition of the stage and much of the seating attest, but the Ephesian library fell victim to earthquake damage a long time ago. The photo below shows the ornate facade that was the front of the library. Arches to the right of the facade provided passageways to the marketplace, and inscriptions over the arches list the patrons who paid for them as well as the names of the slaves who designed and built them. The mention of the slaves reflects the power of the pen, or in this case the power of the hammer and chisel.

Tourists in front of the ancient Ephesus Library facade.

Although not all of Ephesus has yet been excavated by the archeologists, the amphitheater, marketplace, library, and some of the streets are easy to visit. The streets were paved with marble, which is not a particularly hard stone, so we could see marks from the wheels of chariots in some places. I tried to come up with a good photo, but the angle of the sun and lack of contrast and shadow made it impossible to highlight the wheel tracks. Nevertheless, the streets were in good condition, and it was striking to realize that we were walking where Paul and any number of other famous and infamous people had walked centuries ago. The street below led to the old harbor, so this was certainly one of the avenues that Paul walked.

Marble-paved street to the old (now silted in) harbor.

Any good shopping area needs signage, and the photo below shows three of the signs found among the ruins of the Ephesian market. I am not sure about the sign on the left, but the one in the middle appears to advertise amphora, or clay jars, or perhaps wine sold in amphora. The sign at the right shows a head of grain and perhaps a loaf of bread.

Advertisements for shops in the marketplace.

Turning back to present day, we passed through the fish markets at the harbor in Kusadusi, and some of them were sorting the catch of the day before sending it to restaurants or other buyers. They dumped out the catch on a big, chilled table and then sorted the various fish into bins according to kind (and perhaps size). For some reason, we also noticed a fair number of cats waiting nearby. The fisherman’s wharf area even had a nice bronze statue of cats around a crate of fish, shown below.

Bronze cats waiting for bronze fish in the Kusadusi fish market.

One thought on “Ephesus

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s