Christian History Project. This site contains the text of 12 volumes on the history of mankind over the last 2,000 years written from a 'collectively-denominational' Christian perspective.

City of Ephesus |
A living museum of the Christian past

City of Ephesus is drawn from Chapter Five, beginning on page 152, of Volume One, The Veil is Torn of the twelve-volume historical series The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years. If you would like to order this book please visit

City of Ephesus - A living museum of the Christian past

City of Ephesus - A living museum of the Christian past
The Grand Theater at Ephesus, where Paul’s teaching provoked a riot of the city’s silversmiths who saw him as jeopardizing their idol-manufacturing trade, was initially built by the emperor Claudius only a few years before Paul came there. It was expanded under successive emperors for the next half century until it achieved a final seating capacity of twenty-five thousand.

The city of Ephesus, capital of the Roman province of Asia and one of the major centers of the eastern Roman empire, survives in the twenty-first century as a magnificent ghost town in stone and marble, about eight miles from the Aegean Sea that once gave it its chief function and livelihood.

Ephesus is on the Cayster River, which Roman engineers dredged for its last few miles, then widened into a lake at the site of the city, making it one of the best harbors in western Asia Minor. It served as terminal point of the Roman road that ran eastward to Tarsus and Antioch, then south around the eastern Mediterranean to Jerusalem and Egypt.

As Rome declined, however, the cost of continued dredging of the Cayster could not be borne, and silt reduced the city’s harbor to a swamp, diverting traffic to other ports in what is now western Turkey. But this, in turn, had a curious effect. A city that had no purpose was not worth besieging and conquering, so the waves of warfare and redevelopment that demolished so many ancient sites left Ephesus alone.

Consequently, Ephesus became an archaeological treasure-trove, with the ruins of centuries of early civilization still preserved in what remains of its once-teeming streets and buildings.

The magnificent pillars of the towering Temple of Artemis, for instance, stand now where they did in Paul’s day, quietly commemorating the goddess who was called Diana by the Romans. The sale of her silver statuettes furnished a principal source of income for the city’s silversmiths, who set off a riot to protest Paul’s luring their customers away from paganism. The great theater in which that demonstration occurred, said to seat twenty-five thousand people, is still there.

For centuries after the city’s final abandonment in the late Middle Ages, its only inhabitants were wolves, who built their dens in the shelter of its once proud buildings. By the twentieth century, however, Ephesus found a new source of human activity–archeologists and then tourists, the latter wandering down the paving stones that the Romans had laid more than two millennia before.

This is the end of the City of Ephesus category article drawn from Chapter Five, beginning on page 152, of Volume One, The Veil is Torn. To continue reading more about City of Ephesus from The Christians, Their First Two Thousand Years we suggest experiencing the rest of the book, complete with hundreds of magnificent illustrations, by ordering it at