Picturing Early Ephesos: Images Imagined and Real




Layman, Ellen McVickar

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The ancient Greek city of Ephesos with its immense temple dedicated to an unusual form of Artemis spawned a variety of images, both fanciful and informed. Those that I consider in this thesis range in date from the first century A.D. to the twentieth century and illustrate elements of the now-vanished early city and temple by artists who were stimulated and informed by the thrill of an imagined place that had survived in legends, ancient literary testimonia, religious stories, historical and travel accounts, and archaeological discoveries. Arranged roughly in chronological order, the images include coins, maps, prints, paintings, and reconstructions of the city and its Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, and demonstrate many different motivations and interpretations. My account begins with an historical framework of the city that serves to situate the artists, their motivations, and their works in time. The factors influencing artists sometimes overlapped, often defying attempts to categorize the works as strictly religious or historical or archaeological, since such attempts would have left no room for imaginative representations or borrowings between artists. Since the Temple has not been seen for more than a millennium, the images, except those on early coins, are inventions, although those by archaeologists are more grounded in reality. A study of this visual record provides a valuable sense of how early Ephesos was viewed, recorded, and understood and documents how physical elements have deteriorated over time or were lost. Since very few surveys of this nature have appeared in English-language publications on Ephesos, my analysis will augment the existing body of work on the early form of the city by providing a visual dimension for Englishspeaking readers. These images will also help to dispel the notion, common among many modern travelers, that the ancient Greek city of Ephesos appeared as it does now in the restorations of the Roman city. Images of the twentieth-century reconstructions of the Roman buildings of Ephesos are widely available in books, guidebooks, and on websites, so only a few of these modern images will appear in this thesis. I shall focus instead on the early years of the city’s history and on its symbol, the renowned Temple of Artemis, visited by thousands in antiquity.



Ephesos, Greek, Artemis, Temple of Artemis, Artemision