Judaism in Rome and Ephesus

judaism-in-ephesus

When St Paul visited Ephesus around 53 AD, there was a Jewish community at Ephesus for over three hundred years.

At 1st century AD, Jews had spread from their homeland to the Mediterranean and some other places. The oldest Jewish community in Europe is the one in Rome. They were practicing very different religion than their neighbors and as a result of this, Jews were mostly close-knit to protect their faiths and themselves. In Rome, Augustus and Julius Cesar supported Jews to help them to worship as they like and Julius Cesar allowed them to settle anywhere in the Roman Empire. Although they were generally treated with respect, trouble did occur and during the reign of Claudius, Jews had been exiled from Rome two times but than they were allowed to return and continue their independent existence. Each Jewish community worshipped at its own synagogue but the center of their worship is in Jerusalem.

It is known that there have been a substantial Jewish community in Asia Minor since at least the 5th century BC and when St Paul visited Ephesus around 53 AD there was a Jewish community at Ephesus for over three hundred years, but the exact date of the establishment of Jewish community in Ephesus is not known.

Unfortunately there is a little inscriptional evidence for the Jewish community in the ancient city but Ephesus is mentioned as having a synagogue in Acts 19:1 of New Testament. Synagogue hasn’t been found in and around Ephesus but there is a menorah carving on the step of Celsus library.

Source : Ephesus – History, information and pictures of Ephesus Ancient city

Aspendos

Aspendos, Turkey

Aspendos or Aspendus (Greek Άσπενδος) was an ancient Greco-Roman city in Antalya province of Turkey. It is located 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) northeast of central Serik.

History

Aspendus was an ancient city in Pamphylia, Asia Minor, located about 40 km east of  the modern city of Antalya, Turkey. It was situated on the Eurymedon River about 16 km inland from the Mediterranean Sea; it shared a border with, and was hostile to, Side. According to later tradition, the (originally non-Greek) city was founded around 1000 BC by Greeks who may have come from Argos. The wide range of its coinage throughout the ancient world indicates that, in the 5th century BC, Aspendus had become the most important city in Pamphylia. At that time the Eurymedon River was navigable as far as Aspendus, and the city derived great wealth from a trade in salt, oil, and wool.

Aspendos did not play an important role in antiquity as a political force. Its political history during the colonization period corresponded to the currents of the Pamphylian region. Within this trend, after the colonial period, it remained for a time under Lycian hegemony. In 546 B.C. it came under Persian domination. The face that the city continued to mint coins in its own name, however, indicates that it had a great deal of freedom even under the Persians.

In 467 B.C. the statesman and military commander Cimon, and his fleet of 200 ships, destroyed the Persian navy based at the mouth of the river Eurymedon in a surprise attack. In order to crush to Persian land forces, he tricked the Persians by sending his best fighters to shore wearing the garments of the hostages he had seized earlier. When they saw these men, the Persians thought that they were compatriots freed by the enemy and arranged festivities in celebration. Taking advantage of this, Cimon landed and annihilated the Persians. Aspendos then became a member of the Attic-Delos Maritime league.

The Persians captured the city again in 411 B.C. and used it as a base. In 389 B.C. the commander of Athens, in an effort to regain some of the prestige that city had lost in the Peloponnesian Wars, anchored off the coast of Aspendos in an effort to secure its surrender. Hoping to avoid a new war, the people of Aspendos collected money among themselves and gave it to the commander, entreating him to retreat without causing any damage. Even though he took the money, he had his men trample all the crops in the fields. Enraged, the Aspendians stabbed and killed the Athenian commander in his tent.

When Alexander the Great marched into Aspendos in 333 B.C. after capturing Perge, the citizens sent envoys to him to request that he would not establish that he be given the taxes and horses that they had formerly paid as tribute to the Persian king. After reaching this agreement. Alexander went to Side, leaving a garrison there on the city’s surrender. Going back through Sillyon, he learned that the Aspendians had failed to ratify the agreement their envoys had proposed and were preparing to defend themselves. Alexander marched to the city immediately. When they saw Alexander returning with his troops, the Aspendians, who had retreated to their acropolis, again sent envoys to sue for peace. This time, however, they had to agree to very harsh terms; a Macedonian garrison would remain in the city and 100 gold talents as well as 4.000 horses would be given in tax annually.

In 190 BC the city surrendered to the Romans, who later pillaged it of its artistic treasures.Toward the end of the Roman period the city began a decline that continued throughout Byzantine times.

Roman structures

The Roman theatre in Aspendos.

Aspendos is known for having the best-preserved theatre of antiquity. With a diametre of 96 metres (315 ft), the theatre provided seating for 7,000.

The theatre was built in 155 by the Greek architect Zenon, a native of the city, during the rule of Marcus Aurelius. It was periodically repaired by the Seljuqs, who used it as a caravansary, and in the 13th century the stage building was converted into a palace by the Seljuqs of Rum.

In order to keep with Hellenistic traditions, a small part of the theatre was built so that it leaned against the hill where the Citadel (Acropolis) stood, while the remainder was built on vaulted arches. The high stage served to seemingly isolate the audience from the rest of the world. The scaenae frons or backdrop, has remained intact. The 8.1 metre (27 ft) sloping reflective wooden ceiling over the stage has been lost over time. Post holes for 58 masts are found in the upper level of the theatre. These masts supported a velarium or awning that could be pulled over the audience to provide shade.

Until recently the theatre was still in use for concerts, festivals and events. Due to some damage caused by fitting modern theatrical equipment during these events the Turkish authorities have suspended further shows. A new modern facility known as Aspendos Arena has been constructed nearby to continue the tradition of open air theatre in Aspendos.

Nearby stand the remains of a basilica, agora, nymphaeum and 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) of a Roman aqueduct. The Roman Eurymedon Bridge, reconstructed in the 13th century, is also in the vicinity.

The Basilica.

Coinage

Aspendos was one of the earliest cities to mint coins. It began issuing coinage around 500 BC, first staters and later drachmas; “the hoplite on the obverse represents the soldiery for which Aspendus was famous in antiquity,” the reverse frequently depicts a triskelion. The legend appears on early coins as the abbreviation ΕΣ or ΕΣΤϜΕ; later coinage has ΕΣΤϜΕΔΙΙΥΣ, the adjective from ΕΣΤϜΕΔΥΣ (Estwedus), which was the name of the city in the local Pamphylian language. The city’s numismatic history extends from archaic Greek to late Roman times.

Source: Wikipedia

Theatre

This is the most magnificent structure in Ephesus ancient city. The Great Theatre is located on the slope of Panayir Hill, opposite the Harbor Street, and easily seen when entering from the south entrance to Ephesus. It was first constructed in the Hellenistic Period, in the third century BC during the reign of Lysimachos, but then during the Roman Period, it was enlarged and formed its current style that is seen today.

It is the largest in Anatolia and has the capacity of 25,000 seats. The cavea has sixty six rows of seats, divided by two diazoma (walkway between seats) into three horizontal sections. There are three sections of seats. In the lower section, Marble pieces, used for restoration, and the Emperor’s Box were found. The seats with backs ,made of marble, were reserved for important people. The audience entered from the upper cavea.

The stage building is three-storied and 18 meters high. The facade facing the audience was ornamented with relieves, columns with niches, windows and statues. There are five doors opening to the orchestra area, the middle one of which is wider than the rest. This enhanced the appearance of the stage, giving it a bigger, monumental look.

The theatre was used not only for concerts and plays, but also for religious, political and philosophical discussions and for gladiator and animal fights.

Source: http://www.ephesus.us/

Hercules Gate

Hercules Gate, Ephesus.

Located towards the end of the Curetes Street, it was called the Hercules gate because of the relief of Hercules on it. It was brought from another place in the fourth century AD to its current place, but the relief on it dates back to the second century AD.

Only the two side of the columns remain today and the other parts of it have not been found. The relief of the flying Nike in the Domitian Square is thought to also be a part of this gate.

The Heracles Gate narrowed the access to the street, preventing the passage of vehicles.We can understand that from the Fourth Century, the street had become a pedestrian area. In these reliefs Heracles was depicting with the skin of the Nemean lion in mythology. The Nemean lion had been terrorizing the area around Nemea, and had a skin so thick that it was impossible to kill it. Finally he wrestled the lion to the ground, eventually killing it by thrusting his arm down its throat and choking it to death. Heracles was the god of power and strenght.

Hercules Strangling the Nemean Lion by Peter Paul Rubens,1620

http://www.ephesus.us