Temple of Diana

Temple of Diana

Temple of Diana

Temple of Diana / Artemis - Ephesus

The Temple of Diana in Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Today, a rusty sign and a few broken column fragments stacked on a crude cement base is all that remains of this ancient wonder.

During its heyday, the Temple of Diana looked quite different. Supported by 127 Ionic columns, each towering 60 feet tall, it covered an area 130 x 60 yards, making it four times larger than the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.

The temple was originally built in the 8th century BC and dedicated to Artemis, a goddess in Greek mythology whom the Ephesians worshipped as a fertility idol. Destroyed by a flood in the 7th century BC, the temple was rebuilt, destroyed again in the 4th century BC, this time by an arsonist seeking vainglory, and then rebuilt again.

By the 1st century AD, the Romans ruled Ephesus and had rebranded the Temple of Artemis as the Temple of Diana, a goddess in the Roman mythology. The substitution appears to have been fine with the local silversmiths as long as they could continue to peddle miniature shrines of Diana / Artemis.

Their business suffered, however, when the apostle Paul came to Ephesus to proclaim why Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead (see Jesus' tomb), and then preached against idolatry:

And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.” Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul’s travel companions. And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him. Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater. (Acts 19:23-31)

Here is what that Theatre of Ephesus looks like today.