|Art by Jeffach: Deviantart Page; Pinterest; Tumblr|
Great is Diana of the Ephesians!
Ephesus is an abandoned city three kilometers from the town of Selcuk in Turkey's Izmir Province, on the shores of the Aegean Sea. Once capital of the realm of Arzawa under the name of Apasa (at least in the Hittite rendering),
Ephesus was reconceived in Classical times as a colonial settlement of Athens, founded by Androklos, son of King Codrus, or by Ephos, Queen of the Amazons. I take this to be a fictive refounding, aimed at wedging Athens into the Ionian Games, and, later, justifying the Delian League, but the Wikipedia version wedges a refounding of the city into the Dark Ages of the 10th Century. (Compare the recent treatments of Miletos by Greaves and Gorman.)
In either case, Ephesus took the Mother of the Gods as its special patron, and then associated the Phrygian Kybele with the Greek goddess Artemis, or the Latin Diana, the name mob invoked when it rioted against the preaching of the Apostles.
It has been suggested that the mob might have had some less-than-exalted motives, as the Artemis Temple of Ephesus was a major tourist attraction. Rebuilt at the expense of Croesus, the Man of Lydia, by the Cretan architect Chersiphron of Knosssus, it was counted as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. As completed in around 550BC, it was 115 meters long and 46 meters wide, with peripteral columns some 13 meters high above a 2.4 meter terrace built to raise the site above regular flooding, and which incidentally preserves archaeological remains of sacred sites rating back as early as the Bronze Age, and what is said to have been the first Greek temple surrounded by colonnades, the earlier foundation of c. 700BC.
Understandably, given its erection in the middle of a marsh, little remains of it today.
A six-year search, eventually funded by the British Museum, found the pavement of the Artemision under twenty feet of silt, on the last day of 1869, and a single twelve ton marble drum excavated. Perhaps not surprisingly for such a "dark and dismal place," it was found to be decorated with an obscure but clearly chthonic scene from myth, with Hermes Psychopomp appearing to an unidentified woman in the company of a Thanatos, an angel of death.
The decision to build such a grand structure in the middle of a marsh is a ....striking one. It is very definitely intended to make a statement of some kind, and, as you may have guessed by now, this post plunges back into the water margin and the tall reeds. It's a mystery, it needs resolving, and that solution is going to bear, pretty directly, on "thalassocracy."