The Antipater of Sidon, a famous Greek poet lived during the latter half of the 2nd century BC. During his travels, he visited landmarks belonging to the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This included the Temple of Artemis that now stands near the ancient ruins of Ephesus, in Selcuk on the Aegean coast of Turkey.
The Greek Temple, also known as the Temple of Diana, was built in honour of the goddess of fertilely Artemis and was rebuilt two more times, until its final destruction in 401. Historians report that 800 years later, remains of the temple could not be found and locals knew nothing of its existence. History had forgotten it.
In 1869, an expedition funded by the British museum, discovered the lost temple and excavations carried on until 1874. During that time, most artefacts were taken out the country and are now on display in the British Museum of London. The story varies according to who you speak to, as to whether the artefacts were smuggled out or permission was granted by the totally broke and penniless Ottoman government.
Visiting the Temple of Artemis
Anyway, the Antipater of Sidon said upon visiting…
“I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, ‘Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand.”
My words upon visiting were…
“What the f*** did I come here for?”
Now before you accuse me of disrespecting history, let me show you something. According to historians, this is more or less an accurate portrayal of how the temple looked.
Now, this is what I saw…
Can you understand my disappointment?
I spent more time taking photos of turtles, a duck swimming in the swamp land and a lonely stork who had built a nest on top of the single column. After I put my camera away, an old, smelly gentleman who tried to flog fake coins to me for 500 USD, would not stop following me about. Imagine my rage, especially since I had forgotten to take my Xanax!
Perhaps I had put too much emphasis on the importance of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World but I couldn’t understand why the historical world turned its back on the magnificent temple. I thought of the treasures that lay buried beneath the earth. I thought of the artefacts that would be uncovered and the neglect was hard to comprehend.
Then the Turkish Newspaper called the Hurriyet Daily News published an article. Excavations were to start again at the temple because visitor numbers were extremely low! Better late than never as they say!
So, visit the temple if you drive directly past the entrance, otherwise don’t make a special detour. However, I will be keeping my eye on excavations for the next 10 years.
Maybe one day, we will see a glimpse of the former glory of the Temple of Artemis, considered by the Antipater of Sidon, to be one of the best Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.