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Temple of Artemis, Sardis

Ruins of the Temple of Artemis in Sardis. Photo © Dick Osseman. View all images in our Temple of Artemis Photo Gallery.
Ruins of the Temple of Artemis in Sardis. Photo © Dick Osseman.
Ruins of the Temple of Artemis in Sardis. Photo © Dick Osseman.
Huge capital from the Temple of Artemis. Photo © Dick Osseman.

The Temple of Artemis in Sardis was the fourth largest Ionic temple in the world. Originally built in 300 BC by the ancient Greeks, the temple was renovated by the Romans in the 2nd century AD. During the Roman period it served also as a temple of the imperial cult.

History

Construction on the Temple of Artemis began in about 334 BC, soon after Sardis was liberated from Alexander the Great. The original temple was probably a dipteros - a temple with two rows of columns around an enclosed inner section. Unusually, the entrance was on the west side; a feature required by the nature of the site.

Just outside the entrance was an altar of Artemis much older than the temple, from as early as the 6th century BC. In the Hellenistic period the altar was incorporated into a large stepped platform that still exists.

Construction on the temple was abandoned during the late Hellenistic period, probably due to the decline of Seleucid patronage in Lydia. Construction resumed in c.175 BC but was again abandoned before completion. The temple was then damaged by an earthquake in 17 AD.

At some point during this period, Artemis shared her temple with Zeus. This is based on an early inscription at the site honoring both Artemis and Zeus, and a large head of Zeus that was discovered in the temple.

The third and most impressive stage of construction began during the Roman period, in about 150 AD. The project was sparked by Sardis' gaining the prestigous title of neokoros, "temple-warden." The neokoros status required Sardis to have a temple dedicated to the imperial family. The Temple of Artemis was thus divided into a double temple: one half for Artemis and the Empress Faustina and the other half for Zeus and Emperor Antoninus Pius (138-61).

What to See

Most of what remains today dates from the Roman rebuild in the 2nd century. Only two complete columns and a few partial ones still stand, but the temple remains an impressive sight against the backdrop of the acropolis.

On the western side of the temple is a freestanding altar to Artemis that dates from the 6th-5th century BC. Built against the southeast corner of the temple was a small Christian chapel of the 4th century.

Quick Facts on the Temple of Artemis

Site Information
Names:Temple of Artemis; Temple of Artemis, Sardis
City:Sardis
Country:Turkey
Faiths:Ancient Greek
Status:ruins
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Sardis, Turkey
Coordinates:38.479118° N, 28.031616° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of the Temple of Artemis

Below is a location map and aerial view of the Temple of Artemis. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.

References

  1. Bernard McDonagh, Blue Guide Turkey 3rd ed. (2001).
  2. Clyde E. Fant and Mitchell G. Reddish, A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey (2003).

More Information

Article Info

Title:Temple of Artemis, Sardis
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:10/19/2009
Permalink:www.sacred-destinations.com/turkey/sardis-temple-of-artemis/turkey/sardis-temple-of-artemis
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