Temple of Artemis to be Rebuilt

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“I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, ‘Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught [anything] so grand'”Antipater of Sidon

Word has come from Turkey that the famous Temple of Artemis at Ephesus is going to be rebuilt and restored to its former glory.

Artemis of Ephesus

“With support from Austrian scientists, [Dr. Atilay] Ileri [founder of the Selcuk Artemis Culture, Arts and Education Foundation] had Swiss architects prepare a plan for the reconstruction of the temple. Ileri, who has dreamed of reconstructing the temple for 10 years, said: ‘When completed, the temple will not be a copy or an imitation of the original Artemis but the Artemis itself. And its sisters of the past will set their eyes on it with pride and emulation.'”

The project will cost an estimated 150 million dollars, and will involve sculptors from around the world. The government of Turkey, while not directly financing the project, is supportive of Ileri’s efforts. The new temple will be 1,500 meters from the original temple, and is expected to break ground once official permission is granted. Ileri hopes the rebuilt temple will become a new “center of world sculpture”.

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and was initially destroyed by the world’s first fame-seeker (who shall not be named here) in 356 BCE. The temple was rebuilt in 323 BCE, only to be destroyed once more by Goths (the Germanic tribes, not the clove-smoking black-clad subculture) in 262. The Ephesians rebuilt it once again (you have to admire their dedication), only to have it dismantled by a mob led by St. John Chrysostom in 401 CE. Some of the columns were then used to build the Hagia Sophia.

While I’m certain the new temple will be a hive for tourism and the arts, I can only imagine how rebuilding one of the most famous goddess temples will resonate culturally around the world. Will it become a place of pilgrimage? Will a new cult to the Ephesian Artemis revive? Will it signal a new trend in not simply preserving old temples and landmarks, but actually rebuilding them to their former glory? Could we see a new Delphi or Colossus of Rhodes? An embracing of our pre-Christian heritage slipped through the side-door of “tourism”, “art”, and “culture”.