I still can't believe I actually got to go to Ephesus.
We stepped off the boat and there we were in Turkey.
A little gallop over to a taxi stand, we trundled down a road and there we were:
the old, old city that was Ephesus.
Because I have so enjoyed the book of Ephesus in the Bible I was thrilled to see it first hand.
Ephesus was a thriving city of 250,000 people at one time. When its population died of malaria, the city was deserted, which is why we can see the remarkably well preserved ruins of Ephesus today and get a snapshot of life in that place and time.
The city was built around Artemis, goddess of fertility. When we walked in and I saw her name inscribed in stone (see it above) I could hardly believe my eyes.
You can walk around Ephesus today freely, touch the stones and see everything without any boundaries.
I was surprised to at how contemporary life was. For example, Ephesus had plumbing throughout the city, fed by four aqueducts. The elite had hot and cold water plumbed into their indoor bathrooms.
The clay pipes that carried their water were visible around the city, some in the ground or in the walls, and some laying at the city's edge, like these.
We had read our Bibles before getting to Ephesus and were alert for signs of the early Christians who lived there. We saw some crosses carved in stone and walked through amphitheatres where they walked, looked at the places where they'd struggled and laughed and lived lives much like our own.
And the beauty!
Oh my goodness, I had not imagined I'd see the level of intricate craftsmanship we observed in Ephesus. As an artist I was completely blown away.
I took an embarrassingly large number of photographs.
Carved stone, mosaics, even original painted frescoes...
Who, I wondered, were the artists who made these things?
What were their tools?
How did they reproduce things so exactly? Their techniques would interest us so much today.
I wished I could look over their shoulders, and found myself musing over ways I might incorporate this inspiration into my own work, to bring the flavor of ancient times into a contemporary form.
Before leaving, we wanted to see the Terrace Houses, ancient condos inhabited by the wealthiest citizens. There's an extra charge for this, and we didn't have Turkish dinars. I still can't believe I did it, but I bribed the men to let us in with Euros.
The walls were painted beautifully, mosaics gilded their floors, and faux marble paintings lined the hallways. I can't show it to you very well because the lighting was poor, but if you should ever find yourself considering a visit to Turkey, you must not miss this treasure.
Leaving the terrace houses we were astonished at the big agora, or marketplace. The vast and heavily decorated construction is staggering.
I was stunned at the intricacy and the sheer size of the place.
(That's me on the lower left in a pink shirt and pale blue pants.)
Here is the top part of the agora- I tried to close in on it so you could see the details but sadly it's still very hard to see.
And then a glance to the right and I saw names I recognized: Agrippa, Caesar Augustus, Julia.
And thought I have at least five or six hundred more photos of Ephesus (no, I am not joking) I am afraid you may not be quite as captivated as I am by all this.
So I will simply say I was stunned and delighted. As the afternoon light faded on this timeless place I walked through one last arch and climbed into the cab with a sigh.