The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus is one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. Ephesus is a Greek harbor city located on the west coast of Turkey which is the present-day town of Selcuk. The Temple of Artemis actually existed in several forms dating back to the Bronze Age, which was destroyed and then rebuilt on the same site throughout the years. The most fabulous of the temple revisions was the next to the last temple that was begun in 550 B.C. and was rumored to have taken over 120 years to complete. Architect, Chersiphron and his son Metagenes were responsible for the design of the temple erected in 550 B.C. The temple is said to have burned on the same night Alexander the Great was born. Rumor has it that Artemis was so caught up in the safe birth of Alexander the Great she was unable to save her temple from burning the ground.
It was to be almost six years later before the new temple would be erected in its place. Scopas of Paros was the greatest architect of his day and was chosen to design the new temple. It was surrounded by marble stairs that ascended to a terrace over four hundred feet in length. There is debate regarding whether the temple ceiling was topped with wooden tiles or open-air in design. It was thought to be the first building constructed totally with marble. Within the temple were 127 marble columns extending sixty feet high. Its most amazing feature was thirty-six columns where the lower halves of the columns were carved in high relief. High relief is a form of sculpture where human figures or animals seem to rise out of the background, in this case, marble columns, by more than half their depth.
Within the temple, there were four bronze statues of Amazon women and the Statue of Artemis. The Greek people worshipped Cybele, The Mother of the Gods, and Ephesus was devoted to Cybele dating back to 10 century B.C. and held a citywide festival called the Ephesia to honor her. The Temple of Artemis and the Statue of Artemis were dedicated to the Ephesus Artemis who more closely resembled Cybele, Mother of the Gods and Fertility goddess, than the Greek Artemis, Diana, who was Goddess of the Hunt.
The Temple of Artemis was almost completely destroyed by Ostrogoths in A.D. 262. At this time, both the city and the following of Artemis were in decline. A century later when Constantine rebuilt the city, he refused to replace the temple as he had no interest in pagan temples after becoming a Christian. The first ruins of the columns in the temple were found at the bottom of the Cayster River in 1869 by John Turtle Wood, an architect sent by the British Museum to locate the temple site. The sculptured remains that he found were shipped back to the Museum where they can still be viewed today. In 1904 another British expedition was led by D.G. Hogarth who located five temples layered one on top of the other. In present-day, all that remains is a single column in a marshy field to represent the location of the Temple of Artemis, a sad end for one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.