The Temple of Artemis
IT WAS in the ancient city of Ephesus that the preaching of the apostle Paul reduced the sales of the “silver shrines of Artemis.” These images “furnished the craftsmen no little gain,” and a silversmith named Demetrius fomented a riot against the apostle Paul, saying: “The danger exists not only that this occupation of ours will come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be esteemed as nothing and even her magnificence which the whole province of Asia and the inhabited earth worships is about to be demolished.”—Acts 19:24, 27.
Discussing his visit to the ruins of Ephesus, Peter Baam writes in Early Sites of Christianity: “It is an extraordinary fact that a great city can vanish so completely from the face of the earth. . . . [Ephesus] vanished, blown away by the wind. Its ruins have only been brought to light by the archaeologists of our own day. Ephesus was one of the great cities of antiquity. In its heyday, at the time of the apostles, it had a quarter of a million inhabitants. . . . It contained . . . the Artemision, which was dedicated to the goddess Artemis and considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was erected around 700 B.C. . . . The Artemision endured for nearly a thousand years. It was one of the great places of worship in the Greek world, until the Goths destroyed it in A.D. 262. . . .
“The admirable writer of the Acts of the Apostles, whom journalists might well take as the patron saint of their profession, is so accurate in a hundred details that can be checked that there can be not the slightest doubt about the accuracy of his reports. These things took place just as he reported them. . . .
“The shrine of the ancient world has vanished so completely that J. T. Wood, an English architect of the middle of the last century, took seven years to discover the site of the temple. In the end he found it with the help of a Roman inscription of the period of the Emperor Trajan, about fifty years after Paul was in Ephesus. The inscription gives instructions concerning the route by which the goddess was to be taken to the theater at the annual festival. By following these instructions Wood found the site of the temple. . . .
“The excavation site of the Artemision lies about 300 yards from the castle hill. It looks like a foundation trench, a rectangle measuring about 330 by 110 yards, and deep. The pit is half filled with ground water, and a few remains of columns lie in the morass. The Acts of the Apostles contains a description of the rising in Ephesus which the goldsmith unleashed during the sojourn there of the apostle Paul. At that time the goldsmiths of the city were doing a roaring trade with small silver temples of Artemis which were sold to pilgrims as souvenirs. They have been found in excavations as far away as Upper Egypt, Spain, and India.”