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The Temple of Artemis is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Three to four times as large as the Parthenon in Athens, it was once described as the largest temple and building of antiquity and served as a place of worship to the Greek Goddess Artemis. Home to both Greeks and Romans, the grand temple was destroyed and rebuilt many times over the course of its long history. The Antipater of Sidon, who compiled and visited all the seven wonders, said the temple was more marvelous than any of the other six wonders:
I have gazed on the walls of impregnable Babylon along which chariots may race, and on the Zeus by the banks of the Alpheus, I have seen the hanging gardens, and the Colossus of the Helios, the great man-made mountains of the lofty pyramids, and the gigantic tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the sacred house of Artemis that towers to the clouds, the others were placed in the shade, for the sun himself has never looked upon its equal outside Olympus.
The Temple of Artemis is dedicated to the goddess Artemis, pictured above. Artist: Geza Maroti. ( Wikimedia Commons)
The Temple of Artemis (also known as the Temple of Diana by the Romans) was a Greek temple located in the ancient city of Ephesus. As well as a great port city, Ephesus, was once a religious center in the ancient world. Now called Selcuk, it was located about 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of modern-day Izmir, Turkey. The temple once served as a cultic place of worship for the Greek goddess Artemis, goddess of fertility, the earth, the moon, and the animals. Most of the descriptions of the original Temple of Artemis comes from the Roman historian Pliny the Elder (23 – 79 AD). He described the temple as a "wonderful monument of Grecian magnificence, and one that merits our genuine admiration." Pliny documented its exact proportions, how long the temples took to build and the material used during construction. The foundation of the temple was rectangular in form and measured 150 feet in width (45.7 meters) and 300 feet in length (91.4 meters). It was built on a podium with 13 steps leading up to the high terrace. There were 127 columns total, each 20m high (65.6 feet), with Ionic capitals and carved circular sides. Unlike other sanctuaries, the building was made entirely of marble.
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The ancient temple was built around 550 – 650 BC and on a site already sacred to the Anatolian Mother Goddess, Cybele. It was designed by the Cretan architect Chersiphron and his son Metagenes and financed by Croesus of Lydia. The Lydians (followed by the Persians) had conquered Ephesus in the mid-500s. However, the sacred site at Ephesus was believed to be far older than that.
According to the Greek historian Strabo, the Temple of Artemis was rebuilt seven times over ten centuries although the exact number is uncertain. Excavations have revealed evidence that it has been rebuilt at least three times. Each time the temple was rebuilt it was on the same site and larger than the previous. Pausanias (110 - 180 AD), a Greek traveler, geographer, and historian, claimed the shrine was ancient and older than the oracular shrine of Apollo at Didyma. He also said that the pre-Ionic inhabitants of the city were Leleges and Lydians. Historians believe the first sanctuary was built in the Bronze Age. When Callimachus wrote his Hymn to Artemis , he conjectured that the Amazons had built it. A disastrous flood, in the 7th century BC, destroyed the oldest of the several temples.
This model of the Temple of Artemis, at Miniatürk Park, Istanbul, Turkey, attempts to recreate the probable appearance of the first temple. ( Wikimedia Commons )
On July 21, 356 BC, the night Alexander the Great was born, legend says that an arsonist named Herostratus set fire to the temple and burned it down. Years later, Alexander the Great visited the town and offered to help pay the cost of rebuilding it if they would put his name on it, but the Ephesians refused. After Alexander the Great died, the temple was rebuilt in 323 BC true to original form except for a raised platform, which was a feature of classical architecture.
By 263 AD, the temple had been plundered by Nero and destroyed by the East Germanic Tribe, the Goths. After this, it was never rebuilt again.
All temples were declared closed by the Roman emperor Theodosius I in 391 and in 401, the temple was finally destroyed by a mob led by St. John Chrysostom. Christians tore down what remained of it and over the next two centuries, the majority of Ephesus citizens eventually converted to Christianity.
One of the statues of Artemis recovered from the Temple of Artemis, at the Ephesus Archaeology Museum. 2006, Julian Fong. ( Wikimedia Commons )
The 4th century BC temple was named as a Wonder of the World, partly due to its size, but also because of its beauty and lavish decorations inside and outside. For years, the temple was a site visited by merchants, tourists, artisans, and kings who paid homage to the goddess Artemis by sharing their profits with her. It was the home of priests and priestesses, musicians, dancers, and acrobats. The temple was also a marketplace housed many artworks. Sculptures by renowned Greek sculptors such as Polyclitus, Pheidias, Cresilas, and Phradmon adorned the temple, as well as paintings and gilded columns of gold and silver. Many of these sculptures were of the Amazons.
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Little remains of the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus ( Wikimedia Commons )
Much of the Temple of Artemis remained undiscovered until 1869 when a team of British Museum archaeologists, led by John Turtle Wood, found the remains and foundations after a seven year long search. In 1987-88, excavations revealed the flood, which destroyed the first temple. Today the site is little more than a ruin. Where the temple once stood there is a swamp with a lone column 11m high capped with a stork’s nest and some rubble on the ground. This column was made by the remnants found at the site and put together to appear as one of the originals. The genuine statue of Artemis which was removed during a fire is on exhibit at the Ephesus Museum in Selcuk, Turkey and other remains of the temple are at the British Museum in London England.
Of course, the grand temple of Artemis at Ephesus is just one of many dedicated to the Greek goddess. A Temple of Artemis Amarysia at Amarynthos was discovered in 2017 the island of Evia, Greece. Recently excavators have reported of significant finds include a model of a bronze archery quiver belonging to a statue of Artemis, remains of earlier constructions dating back to the 10th-7th centuries BC as well as a new statue base bearing the names of Artemis, Apollo, and Leto, reported Greek City Times.
The Grand and Sacred Temple of Artemis, A Wonder of the Ancient World - History
7 Wonders of the World
Pyramids of EgyptHanging Garden of Babylon Statue of Zeus
Temple of Artemis at EphesusMausoleum of Halicarnassus
Colossus of RhodesPharos of Alexandria
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
But when I saw the sacred house of Artemis that towers to the clouds, the [other Wonders] were placed in the shade, for the Sun himself has never looked upon its equal outside Olympus.
Is it simply a temple? How could it take its place among other unique structures such as the Pyramid, the Hanging Gardens, and the Colossus of Rhodes? For the people who actually visited it, the answer was simple. It was not just a temple. It was the most beautiful structure on earth. It was built in honor of the Greek goddess of hunting and wild nature. That was the Temple of Artemis (Diana) at Ephesus.
The story goes as, in 1100 A.D a troop of Crusaders stops at a muddy little village in Asia Minor. Their leader looks around. Confused ,he dismounts. This place is not what he expected. He read in the ancient texts that this was a large seaport with many ships docked in its bay. It isn't. The sea is almost three miles away. The village is located in a swamp. There are no ships to be seen. The leader accosts a nearby man.
"Sir, is this the city of Ephesus?" "It was called that once. Now it is named Ayasalouk." "Well, where is your bay? Where are the trading ships? And where is the magnificent Greek temple that we have heard about?" Now it is the man's turn to be confused. "Temple? What temple, Sir? We have no temple here. "
And so 800 years after its destruction, the magnificent Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, had been completely forgotten by the people of the town that had once held it in such pride.
The Roman historian, Pliny, mentions an anchoring place in an unknown loop of the Kucuk Menderes River, which in those days was still deep enough for sailing. The harbour was used by sailors from different corners of the world as a stop-over with readily available fresh water. There were no disputes between unfriendly nations as the harbour was believed to be under the protection of the goddess, Ephesia, and had been internationally recognised as a sacred area since 3000 BC.
A harbour founded 5000 years ago in an unknown loop of the Kucuk Menderes River. And the temple of Artemis Ephesia, one of the Seven Wonders of the World and the city under her protection. Excavations have been carried out over 125 years in Ephesus, a city which continues to attract visitors from every corner of the world even after thousands of years.
Ephesus is on the itinerary of almost every tourist visiting Turkey. What they see are remains which were buried under layers of silt, uncovered and rebuilt by archeologists from different countries. Ephesus has always been crowded with many foreign visitors, in ancient times as now. In the past its location offered many advantages for settlement now the white marble city is easily accessible to tourists.
And there is no doubt that the temple was indeed magnificent. "I have seen the walls and Hanging Gardens of ancient Babylon," wrote Philon of Byzantium, "the statue of Olympian Zeus, the Colossus of Rhodes, the mighty work of the high Pyramids and the tomb of Mausolus. But when I saw the temple at Ephesus rising to the clouds, all these other wonders were put in the shade."
So what happened to this great temple? And what happened to the city that hosted it? What turned Ephesus from a busy port of trade to a few shacks in a swamp? The answer is below as far as we could gather the historic facts.
The first shrine to the Goddess Artemis was probably built around 800 B.C. on a marshy strip near the river at Ephesus. The Ephesus Goddess Artemis, sometimes called Diana, is not the same figure as the Artemis worshiped in Greece. The Greek Artemis is the goddess of the hunt. The Ephesus Artemis was a goddess of fertility and was often pictured as draped with eggs, or multiple breasts, symbols of fertility, from her waist to her shoulders.
That earliest temple contained a sacred stone, probably a meteorite, that had "fallen from Jupiter." The shrine was destroyed and rebuilt several times over the next few hundred years. In 7th century BC the temple of Artemis, goddess of hunting, was invaded by wild Cimmerian warriors, but they did little more than threaten the locals, perhaps because they feared Ephesia.
Yet this temple didn't last long. In 550 B.C. King Croesus of Lydia attracted by the wealth of the Ionians, was more determined .He conquered Ephesus and the other Greek cities of Asia Minor. He destroyed the acropolis of Koressos and forced the Ionians to resettle near the sacred area. The wise citizens of Koressos had fixed a 1300m. rope from their city walls to the sacred temple and thereby placed themselves under its protection.
During the fighting, the temple was destroyed. Croesus proved himself a gracious winner, though, by contributing generously to the building of a new temple. By 600 B.C., the city of Ephesus had become a major port of trade and an architect named Chersiphron was engaged to build a new large temple. He designed it with high stone columns. Concerned that carts carrying the columns might get mired in the swampy ground around the site, Chersiphron laid the columns on their sides and had them rolled to where they would be erected. Croesus helped rebuild the temple to such a degree of perfection that it became known as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
This event marked the start of civilian settlement and democratic rule in Ephesus, symbolised by the emblem of the bee, which was the symbol of the goddess Ephesia.
In 546 BC Ephesus in common with Lydia and all of Anatolia was invaded by the Persians, and the gradual orientalisation of the city began. The Persian King, Xerxes, had set fire to all the Greek temples in Anatolia before waging war on Greece, but he left the Artemision (temple of Artemis) untouched, and even made a sacrificial offering to the goddess.
This was the era when traditional representations of the goddess became more elaborate and richly decorated, and she acquired a Persian mouth.
This was next to the last of the great temples to Artemis in Ephesus and it dwarfed those that had come before. The architect is thought to be a man named Theodorus. Theodorus's temple was 300 feet in length and 150 feet wide with an area four times the size of the temple before it. More than one hundred stone columns supported a massive roof. The new temple was the pride of Ephesus until 356 B.C. when a tragedy, by name of Herostratus, struck.
On the night of 21 july 356 BC,a young Ephesian named Herostratus burned this magnificient temple to ground in an attempt to immortalize his name . He would stop at no cost to have his name go down in history. He did indeed. The citizens of Ephesus were so appalled at this act they issued a decree that anyone who spoke of Herostratus would be put to death. Strangely enough, Alexander the Great was born the same night. The historian Plutarch later wrote that the goddess was "too busy taking care of the birth of Alexander to send help to her threatened temple".
Shortly after this horrible deed, a new temple was commissioned. The architect was Scopas of Paros, one of the most famous sculptors of his day. Ephesus was one of the greatest cities in Asia Minor at this point and no expense was spared in the construction. According to Piny the Elder, a Roman historian, the temple was a "wonderful monument of Grecian magnificence, and one that merits our genuine admiration."
The temple was built in the same marshy place as before. To prepare the ground, Piny recorded that "layers of trodden charcoal were placed beneath, with fleeces covered with wool upon the top of them."
The building is thought to be the first completely constructed with marble and one of its must unusual features were 36 columns whose lower portions were carved with figures in high-relief (left). The temple also housed many works of art including four bronze statues of Amazon women.
Piny recorded the length of this new temple at 425 feet and the width at 225 feet. Some 127 columns, 60 feet in height, supported the roof. In comparison the Parthenon, the remains of which stand on the acropolis in Athens today, was only 230 feet long, 100 feet wide and had 58 columns.
According to Piny, construction took 120 years, though some experts suspect it may have only taken half that time. We do know that when Alexander the Great came to Ephesus in 333 B.C., the temple was still under construction. He offered to finance the completion of the temple if the city would credit him as the builder. The city fathers didn't want Alexander's name carved on the temple, but didn't want to tell him that. They finally gave the tactful response: "It is not fitting that one god should build a temple for another god" and Alexander didn't press the matter.
Piny reported that earthen ramps were employed to get the heavy stone beams perched on top of the columns. This method seemed to work well until one of the largest beams was put into position above the door. It went down crookedly and the architect could find no way to get it to lie flat. He was beside himself with worry about this until he had a dream one night in which the Goddess herself appeared to him saying that he should not be concerned. She herself had moved the stone in the proper position. The next morning the architect found that the dream was true. During the night the beam had settled into its proper place.
After the death of Alexander during the wars of his successors Ephesus fell into many different hands.
The city came under the control of Lysimachos from 294-281 BC and he started building a new city in honour of his wife, Arsinoeia, near the temple in the valley between Mt. Pion (Panayir) and Mt. Coressos (Bulbul). Re-siting had become necessary as the estuary was gradually silting up. Apart from the ramparts he only succeeded in building a theatre, stadium, agora and harbour. On his death the building of "Ephesus III" was abandoned and the city came under rule of the Pergamon Kingdom founded by the Attalos family.
In 133 BC Ephesus was handed over to the Romans and eventually became capital of the Roman Province of Asia. During her greatest period of prosperity the city grew rapidly. The Romans constructed many public buildings to fulfil their needs, and gates, baths and temples were donated by the rich. The Artemision continued to attract pilgrims from all over the Graeco-Roman world.
The city continued to prosper over the next few hundred years and was the destination for many pilgrims coming to view the temple. A souvenir business in miniature Artemis idols, perhaps similar to a statue of her in the temple, grew up around the shrine. It was one of these business proprietors, a man named Demetrius, that gave St. Paul a difficult time when he visited the city in 57 A.D.
St. Paul came to the city to win converts to the then new religion of Christianity. He was so successful that Demetrius feared the people would turn away from Artemis and he would lose his livelihood. He called others of his trade together with him and gave a rousing speech ending with "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" They then seized two of Paul's companions and a near riot followed. Eventually the city was quieted, the men released, and Paul left for Macedonia.
It was Paul's Christianity that won out in the end, though. By the time the great Temple of Artemis was destroyed during a raid by the Goths in 262 A.D., both the city and the religion of Artemis were in decline. When the Roman Emperor Constantine rebuilt much of Ephesus a century later, he declined to restore the temple. He had become a Christian and had little interest in pagan temples.
Despite Constantine's efforts, Ephesus declined in its importance as a crossroads of trade. The bay where ships docked disappeared as silt from the river filled it. In the end what was left of the city was miles from the sea, and many of the inhabitants left swampy lowland to live in the surrounding hills. Those that remained used the ruins of the temple as a source of building materials. Many of the fine sculptures were pounded into powder to make lime for wall plaster.
Decline began in 262 AD when a serious earthquake destroyed much of the city, and in the same year Goths plundered the world famous treasures of the Artemision. They did not escape the wrath of the goddess and their ship sank in the Aegean.
Ephesus' loss of power resulted in the city losing its right to mint coins.
In 391 AD Christianity was proclaimed as the official state religion and the cult of Artemis was finally eclipsed by that of the mother of god.
In 1863 the British Museum sent John Turtle Wood, an architect, to search for the temple. Wood met with many obstacles. The region was infested with bandits. Workers were hard to find. His budget was too small. Perhaps the biggest difficulty was that he had no idea where the temple was located. He searched for the temple for six years. Each year the British Museum threatened to cut off his funding unless he found something significant, and each year he convinced them to fund him for just one more season.
Wood kept returning to the site each year many despite hardships. During his first season he was thrown from a horse, breaking his collar bone. Two years later he was stabbed within an inch of his heart during an assassination attempt upon the British Consul in Smyrna.
Finally in 1869, at the bottom of a muddy twenty-foot deep test pit, his crew struck the base of the great temple. Wood then excavated the whole foundation removing 132,000 cubic yards of the swamp to leave a hole some 300 feet wide and 500 feet long. The remains of some of the sculptured portions were found and shipped the to British Museum where they can be viewed even today.
In 1904 another British Museum expedition under the leadership of D.G. Hograth continued the excavation. Hograth found evidence of five temples on the site, each constructed on top of the other.
Today the site of the temple is a marshy field. A single column is erect to remind visitors that once there stood in that place one of the wonders of the ancient world. The temple served as both a marketplace and a religious institution. For years, the sanctuary was visited by merchants, tourists, artisans, and kings who paid homage to the goddess by sharing their profits with her. Recent archeological excavations at the site revealed gifts from pilgrims including statuettes of Artemis made of gold and ivory. earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. artifacts from as far as Persia and India.
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Temple of Artemis at EphesusMausoleum of Halicarnassus
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Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
The Temple of Artemis (Diana), called Artemision, was reckoned one of the seven wonders of the world. The temple of Diana was the chief glory of the city of Ephesus. Before the discovery in the 19th century of the long-buried site, the Temple of Diana was chiefly known by its reputation as one of the Seven Wonders of the world, and from a few short notices by ancient writers. According to Vitruvius, it was Ionic, dipteral, octastyle, and had a cedar ceiling.
Pliny says that it was of the enormous and improbable size of 425 feet by 220 feet, that it had 127 columns, the gifts of kings. The structure was thus four times as large as the Partheon at Athens. The columns were 66 feet high, and about 6 feet in diameter above the base. Thirty-six of the columns and their pedestals were enriched with sculpture, as were also the antae. It had been destroyed several times before Pliny wrote, particularly by the notorious Herostratus, 356 BC. The temple, however, was rebuilt by the Ephesians with more magnificence than ever, whose women contributed their trinkets to the general fund raised for this purpose.
The temple was of the Ionic order, and was adorned with many pillars, each 60 feet high by one account, and with numerous statues and paintings by the most celebrated Grecian masters. The statue of the goddess was one of the finest works of art ever produced. It was wrought of ivory and gold, and was a marvel of costliness and beauty. The temple was decorated with sculptures by Praxiteles and one of the masterpieces of Apelles.
In many respects this was the most magnificent and celebrated of all Greek temples the last temple built on the site ranked as one of the seven wonders of the world. The great size of the Artemision was a very important factor in its celebrity. In point of beauty it was far surpassed by earlier Greek temples. Between the seventh century BC and the time of Alexander the Great three successive temples were built on the same site. (1) The original temple built by Theodorus of Samos, probably about 630 B.C. (2) The temple begun by Chersiphron and finished by his son Metagenes about the end of the sixth century BC. This temple was burnt by an incendiary on the night when Alexander the Great was born, in 856 BC. (3) The last temple, built during the reign of Alexander, was designed by his favourite architect, Deinokrates.
There is a tradition that in the early days a wooden statue of a goddess fell from heaven into a thicket, and that vines, twining about it, held it upright that men found the goddess standing in the thicket, and began to worship her. Some say that the goddess was Artemis, and that the place where she fell was near the coast of Asia Minor, where the river Cayster empties into the sea. Her statue was of wood upon the head was a mural headdress to represent the wall of a city. The upper part of the body is said to have been entirely covered with breasts, as we see her in the Naples alabaster figures, for she was the mother of all the earth. The lower part of her body terminated in a pillar all carved with the figures of animals, or perhaps wrapped about with an embroidered cloth.
The thicket where the statue fell was transformed into a grove. In the grove was an aged cedar tree, perhaps more venerated than the others about it, and in its great hollow trunk the statue was placed. The hollow cedar tree was the first temple of the goddess. Not far from the grove where the sacred temple tree used to stand, was the Greek city of Ephesus. Its story is long and eventful, for the city, lying by a good harbor at the entrance to Asia Minor, became the center of trade and wealth and culture, and more than that it was the great religious center of the Orient.
How long the goddess was contented to live in the hollow tree, history does not record. Perhaps the old tree was blown down by the wind, for in the eighth century BC a platform of greenish stones was built about the place where it had stood, and upon the platform were placed her statue and an altar. A stone wall was then built about the platform or sacred Temenos. The fame of the goddess spread, for by the year 650 BC she had outgrown her little shrine, and it was enlarged and placed at a higher level. The wild Cimmerians then overran the country and burned the temple, but at once another temple, larger and on a higher foundation, was built to the goddess. It was of a Greek type, and took the form of a temple in antis, but no evidence of a colonnade was found.
Theodoras advised the laying of a layer of charcoal covered with fleeces in the foundations of the third temple of Artemis (Diana) at Ephesus, begun by him about BC 600. By one account Theodorus's temple was 300 feet in length and 150 feet wide with an area four times the size of the previous temple. At Sparta was a circular edifice which according to Pausanias was said to have been erected by Theodoras, and was reputed to be the oldest known odeion it was called "skias". Theodorus of Samos, assisted his father Rhoekos and his brother Telekles about BC 580, in the labyrinth at Lemnos and wrote a treatise on the temple to Rhea, Hera, or Juno at Samos, BC 640-600. This Theodorus is considered to be of a later age than the first Theodorus, for there was perhaps a Theodorus son of Telekles.
The increasing fame of the goddess brought larger numbers of pilgrims. Her gifts increased, and a still greater temple was required, and it was decided that all the people should have a part in building it. Croesus, the wealthiest man of the ancient world, had been told that his riches and power were so great that they might arouse even the jealousy of the gods, and to prevent such a calamity he contributed liberally to the building fund of the new temple, and his name appears on some fragments of the columns as dedicator. It stood in the same place where all of the earlier temples had stood, but at a higher level. Its stone was the white marble from the hills seven miles away.
In the temple were offerings of animals and grains and fruits. Once each year the statues of the goddess were taken about the city. The procession took place on the 25th day of May, the day when the statue of the goddess is said to have fallen from heaven. There were hosts of statues, great and small, of wood and clay and stone and silver and gold.
The temple stood somewhat more than a mile from the city, but connected with it by a great highway 35 feet in width, and paved with marble blocks. Damianus, a wealthy Roman, built along this Via Sacra an arched stone stoa to protect the priests and the statues from the rain and the sun. The procession, with long lines of priests marching to the accompaniment of the weird music, and perhaps with dancing priestesses, and with chariots laden with the statues, entered the city by the Magnesian gate. Before the great theater it halted. The images were carried to the stage where the audience, which might have numbered nearly thirty thousand, could see them.
Pilgrims flocked to Ephesus from all parts of the world, vying with each other in the costliness of their gifts. There were treasures of gold and silver and ivory. Sculptors and artists devoted their best works to the goddess, and among the objects most highly treasured were the statues of the Amazons, which Phidias, Cresilas, Polyclitus, and Phradmon made in competition and a painting of Alexander by Apclles. In time the temple became a great museum, perhaps the first great museum in the world's history.
The more acceptable gifts were of money, and the wealth of the temple became prodigious. To care for the money, there were expert financiers in the priesthood. Vast business enterprises were carried on large tracts of land were purchased and cultivated mines were developed estates were administered fisheries were controlled the temple ships traded with all the world. The temple lent money to those who required it, and borrowed it from those who had it to lend, and deposited for safe-keeping treasures of every kind. At one time the temple controlled a great part of the wealth of the Orient.
The temple was also an asylum, a place of refuge for the fugitive or the criminal. Perhaps in the early times the right of asylum was confined to the temple itself. Mithridates enlarged it to the distance of a bow shot from the temple. Mark Antony extended it to include a part of the city, and so the city became a haunt for ciminals of all sorts. Augustus therefore confined the sacred space to within a quarter of a mile of the temple, and surrounded it with a wall, traces of which may still be seen.
The first serious attack upon the Goddess Diana was by St. Paul, who established a Christian church at Ephesus. For a time the Christians were imprisoned and martyred, yet Christianity spread. The trade of the silversmiths began to fall away. The old books of sorcery were burned. The very existence of Diana was threatened, and yet the struggle between Christianity and paganism continued for more than two centuries. In 262 AD the invading Goths destroyed the city and burned the temple. A smaller temple, built on its site, was destroyed by the Christians, and the followers of the goddess were persecuted. Finally, about 350, the Roman emperor commanded that all pagan temples be closed. The Goddess Diana, who had ruled supreme, for 1500 years, was dead, and few were left to mourn her.
Slowly the little that was left of Ephesus fell to ruins with the help of earthquakes. The stones of the temple were used in the construction of a Christian church. A tradition says that some of the great columns supporting the dome of St. Sophia in Constantinople were taken from the temple. The river, overflowing its banks, transformed the temple site into a malarial swamp. The city soon became a haunt for the Greek pirates who plied their trade along the coast.
The ruins have long been overgrown with shrubbery, and their only inhabitants are a few miserable peasants. In the year 1863, Mr. J. T. Wood, representing the British Museum, obtained permission to search for the lost temple of Diana. There were ruins in abundance, but not a trace of the temple. For six long years he searched. Finally there appeared an inscription on the theater wall saying that the sacred processions came from the temple to the city by the Magnesian gate, and returned by the Coressian gate. He identified the gates, and from the Magnesian gate he followed the marble paving of the sacred way, later buried deep beneath the fields. It led him to a swamp a mile away, and there on December 29, 1869, 20 feet beneath the surface of the swamp, he found all that was left of the temple. Only its foundation and a few scattered stones remained.
The work of excavation was continued until 1874. In his excavations he found that the building measured about 343 feet by 164. and stood on a raised platform measuring 418 feet by 239. Important excavations have since been carried out here, and the theatre, important buildings connected with the gymnasium, and a splendid semicircular marble portico round the east side of the harbor have thus been disclosed.
For fifteen years from 1894 the Austrian Archaeological Society conducted excavations in the city with valuable results. Of more importance to our story are the excavations by D. G. T. Hogarth for the British Museum, which owned the site. For six months in 1904, he labored at the old temple site. Down beneath the foundation of the temple, which Wood had discovered, he found foundation stones of the Croesus temple, and beneath them were traces of three smaller temples of still earlier dates. Wood discovered the remains of three distinct temples at Ephesus, the last but two, the last but one, and the last. The former was probably built 500 BC, for which the foundation described by Pliny, Vitruvius, and Diogenes Laertius, was laid. He found that under the walls of the cella a layer of charcoal 4 ins. thick was placed between two layers of a composition about 3 ins. thick, similar to, and of the consistency of glazier's putty.
Thus the ruins repeat the long-lost story of the temple, which, because it was great and beautiful and rich because it was a place of refuge, a museum, a bank because it was revered more widely than any other, was one of the seven wonders of the world.
ORDER OF THE TEMPLE.
In the year of our Lord 1118 the following gentlemen formed themselves into a society, in the city of Jerusalem, whose duty it was to escort pilgrims to and from the Holy City, through the mountain defiles and dangerous passes, en route, viz.: Hugh de Payen, a gentleman named Rossal, Godfrey de St. Omer, Godfrey Bissol, Payen de Montdidier, Archambaud de Saint-Aignan, and two gentlemen named DAndre and De Gondemare, respectively. These eight were joined by Hugh of Champagne seven years later. And the society thus formed was without rules, and its members wore no particular habit. They lived in a house close by the Temple, and soon came to be known as Knights of the Temple, and Templars. That house was a part of the palace of the western kings, which had been set apart as the home of the pilgrims, and their guards. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was the chapel of the new society.
Hugh de Payen went to Rome in 1127 to ask of Pope Honorius II a new crusade, and while there besought his Holiness to form the little society at Jerusalem into a religious and military order. The Pope referred him to the Council of Troyes, then in session, which appointed St. Bernard to draw up rules for the Order, and prescribe for it a dress. The white dress prescribed by St. Bernard had a red cross added by Pope Eugenius III, years afterwards.
The name assumed by this society is not known to us with perfect accuracy. They were known as "The Brethren of the Order of the Temple," and as "Brethren of the Soldiery of the Temple," and as "Brethren of the Temple." They were referred to as "Pauperes
[paragraph continues] Commilitones Christi et Templi Solomonis." It is supposed that their armorial bearing of two knights riding one horse referred to this poverty, but that is not certain. Neither is it clear that the bearing alluded to "Brotherly Love," or even to "Humility." True they were vowed to chastity, poverty, and obedience, but the king supplied all their wants in the beginning, and the Order soon began to revel in opulence.
The enthusiasm which this society of nine gallant young gentlemen aroused all over Christendom tells the story of the popular craze. The Pope, Prelates, Kings, and all the people, praised their chivalry, and eager youths clamored for admission to their ranks. The Pope promised heaven to all who would take the Cross against the Saracens. Kings settled rich estates upon the new Order, on which Priories were founded. The Order increased in numbers with astounding rapidity. They were young nobles of hot blood, of sinews of steel, and of great physical endurance. These became Templars knowing that they were to be forever upon the field, and never to know peace.
The Templars had no lady-love save Mary, Queen of Heaven they wore no ornaments, their hair was to be kept short, and their dress plain white. They were to eat two and two at the same table, so that each might know that the other did not fast, which was strictly forbidden. They were to attend chapel services, but if on duty at that time they might say their prayers in bed. They were to hold no correspondence with the outer world, nor could a Brother walk alone. Amusements were not encouraged, and all conversation was serious. The Templar had no personal wealth, and if he was taken prisoner by the Saracen he was to be left to his fate,no ransom could be paid for him. The Templar well knew that his fate was the alternative of the Koran or the sword. Hugh de Payen took three hundred such men back to Jerusalem with him, and before five years had passed every one of these had been killed.
The Hospitalers, which had been organized into a military order by Godfrey de Bouillon, became envious of the reputation of the Templars, and dissensions arose, though both frequently fought gallantly side by side against the common enemy. The dissensions began as early as 1179, and continued, with frequent reconciliations, until the suppression of the Order of the Temple, in 1314. In 1251 the two Orders actually fought a battle, in which the Templars were almost cut to pieces. But their decimated ranks were speedily filled.
We need not attempt to give even a summary of the great battles that were fought by the Templars, or recite even instances of their almost superhuman prowess. Time and space would fail us. Princes came to fear them, and bishops to hate them. What cared they? They were rich there were no scandals afloat they were both churchmen and warriors their nation was the Catholic Church their only chief the Pope. They mixed in no struggles unless the Pope's interests were involved their persons were sacred. They ever held up the Cross against the Crescent. They were proportionally hated, and their counsels were rejected when they could have secured by treaty free access to Jerusalem, and peace with the Soldans in the last crusade. Poor William of Sonnac! His eye had just been dashed out, and he hastened to plead with the Christian chiefs to enter into treaty. His advice was scorned. Then dashing the blood from his eyeless socket he rushed to horse, and wildly shouted, "Beauceant to the front! Beauceant and death!" He and all his companions fell sword in hand that day. Aye, there never was known a Templar who was a coward.
In 1301 Boniface III was Pope, and Philip the Fair was King of France. A feud broke out between them, Boniface claiming temporal power in France. The Templars, as usual, stood by the Pope, and they sent him funds. Boniface died within two years, and his successor, Benedict XI, died within the year of his exaltation. This was the opportunity for Philip, who by intriguing and promises secured the election of the ambitious Archbishop of Bordeaux. He assumed the tiara under the title of Clement V. He had agreed to live in France, and was to do the bidding of Philip. Clement approved the demand which Philip had made upon the priests for subsidies, and said nothing about the Templars being compelled to likewise submit to these taxations. In fact, Philip had called Boniface "His Fatuity" in place of "His Holiness," and burned the Pope's Bull of Excommunication with great eclat. Then he made a prisoner of the Holy Father, which created a great scandal.
Clement V was wiser than Boniface III, and Philip had in him an unswerving ally when he sought to suppress the Templars, who sided with his enemy, Boniface III, and desired to gather into the treasury of France the immense riches of that Order. The Templars never suspected for a moment that their only master, the Pope, would betray them and, in fact, had not a suspicion of their danger. They lived so haughtily apart from all the world that no hint of the
[paragraph continues] King's desire to procure testimony against them reached their ears. But it reached the ears of others, among whom were two renegades, one a Knight Templar disgraced from the dignity of Prior, the other a member of the Order dismissed for infamous impieties. These wretches were Esquin von Florian, Prior of Montfaucon, the other one Noffodei. They were in prison at Paris, and under sentence of death.
These villains informed their jailer that if their lives were spared they would put the King in possession of the secret impieties of the Templars. The King examined them himself and the revelations they made, among others, were:
1. The Templars were more like Mohammedans than Christians.
2. The Novices were required to deny Christ, and to spit upon the Cross.
3. The Templars worshiped idols, despised the sacraments, murdered, and secretly buried all betrayers of their secrets, and practiced theft and sodomy.
4. The Templars betrayed the Holy Land to the Infidels.
Philip took down these accusations, and pretended to believe them, although he knew that no intimation of such crimes had even been whispered in any of the states of Christendom, in which the Templars lived and held rich preceptories.
We may well spare the reader a recital of the deceptions, misrepresentations, hypocrisy and falsehoods that attended the so-called inquiries made into those charges by the Pope and his bishops. De Molai had been to see the Pope, in response to an affectionate letter from His Holiness, although the charges were in his hands over a year before writing so affectionately. The Pope did not allude to the accusations, and De Molai had not heard of them. The Grand Master came with a band of trusted Knights, and twelve mules laden with chests of gold and silver. The wily Philip received him without signs of displeasure. It was now 1306, nearly two years since the accusations had been made. Rumors at last reached the Grand Master, and he grew uneasy. He went again to the Pope (1307) taking with him the four French preceptors, and earnestly denied the stories that he had heard. The Pope dismissed him as if he believed the Order innocent.
The conduct of both the Pope and the King lulled the Templars to absolute security all over France, and they continued to live on in haughty and friendless isolation until the morning of October 13,
[paragraph continues] 1307, when every Templar in France was seized in his bed and carried to prison. The King gave the secret order of arrest, and the bishops, whom the Templars had so long defied, cordially co-operated, and flung them into their filthy dungeons.
Let us omit the farce of a trial, and relate some incidents. The prisoners died rapidly of hunger and exposure while being plied with promises of liberty if they would confess the guilt of the Grand Master, and of the Order. They were assured that the Grand Master had already confessed. A few said "yes," but the mass denied the infamous accusations. Many cried out,"If the Grand Master so confessed he lied in his throat." These were brutally tortured, and thirty-six of them perished in the tortures. Some broke down and confessed, but withdrew the confession when the tortures had ceased. The poor Pope in horror protested, but the King accused him of trying to conceal the guilt of the Order. The inquiry went on, traitors confessed, Templars were deceived, and came to Paris under lying promises.
It is probable that under torture De Molai, an old man, emaciated by brutal treatment in prison, confessed to the guilt of the Order. But before the Church Commission he appeared stupefied when he heard the confession read. He cried out that the confession was false, averring that he could stand boiling, roasting, or even killing, but that prolonged tortures were beyond human endurance. His hands had been crushed until the blood ran from his nails. Others had had their feet held to the fire until they had dropped off. Confessions were made, and almost immediately withdrawn. A squabble arose between the Papal Commission and the Court of the Archbishop of Sens. This latter court assumed jurisdiction, and burned fifty-four of the Templars in one batch, on the spot where afterwards stood the infamous Bastile. The Commission mildly objected, and finally agreed upon a report that the Order of the Temple had disgraced itself and should be suppressed. Pope Clement V approved the recommendation, and the Order was officially suppressed.
The tragic end of Grand Master De Molai is worthy of permanent record. The Bull of Suppression was read on a platform set up in the Cathedral Church, on March 18, 1314, and in the presence of the Grand Master and the Priors of France and Aquitaine. When the Cardinal read the vile charges De Molai cried with a loud voice that they were false, but the two Priors, terrified by death at the stake, adhered to their confessions. On the edge of the platform De Molai spoke: "I declare before heaven and earth, and I avow, although to
my eternal shame, that I have committed the greatest of all crimes but only by acknowledging the truth of those so foully charged against an Order, of which the truth to-day compels me to say that Order is innocent. The fearful spectacle that fronts me can not make me confirm a first lie by a second. Upon a condition so infamous, I heartily renounce a life already hateful to me."
As the sun went down that same evening the Grand Master perished in the flames on the island in the Seine, professing the innocence of the Order, and welcoming to the same fate one of the Priors who feared to stand by him in the cathedral, but who rallied, and died beside him. It is said that the dying Grand Master summoned both King and Pope to meet him at the judgment. Clement died within a few weeks, in great physical agony, and a vicious horse sent the cruel Philip to his account within a year thereafter.
So ended the ancient Order of the Templars. They were needed no longer, since Palestine had been abandoned to the Infidel. "Empires, monarchies, guilds, orders, societies, religious creeds, rise in the same way, and disappear when they stand in the way of other things."
Temple of Artemis
The Temple of Artemis is one of the archaeological treasures in the country of Turkey. Built by the Greeks, the site later became an important site to Christians. Many centuries after it was first built, the temple continues to welcome pilgrims and others curious people eager to connect with history and to see one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus Turkey is located an easy drive distance from the modern-day city of Izmir. Its history provides a peek into the ancient Greek religious customs. The temple, sometimes known as the Temple of Diana, was dedicated to Artemis, a Greek goddess who was the twin sister of Apollo. She replaced Selene, becoming goddess of the moon. The Cult of Artemis chose an already sacred site when they built the first shrine. The first Temple of Artemis was built around 650 BC, financed by a king of Lydia who wanted to ensure protection from future earthquakes. The temple quickly gained attention of other wealthy people and worshipers.
The history continues on the night that Alexander the Great was born&mdasha fire destroyed the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus Turkey. When the young man rose to power, he offered to finance another temple, though religious leaders refused, saying it would be right one god to pay for another god's temple. The temple was eventually rebuilt and was standing when Saint Paul visited Ephesus. It again was destroyed, this time during the reign of Nero. And again was rebuilt, but it was never the same again. Eventually the marble of the Temple of Artemis was repurposed in churches and other Christians sites, including Ephesus, one of the Seven Churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Also, it is the namesake of one of the books of the Bible, a letter penned by Saint Paul. The temple was rediscovered in the 1860s on an archaeological dig hosted by the British Museum.
Today's visitors to the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus Turkey will not find a fully formed building, but rather a single column that's a reminder of times past. All that remains is one enormous stone column, a lone reminder of the grand structure once dedicated to the goddess Artemis. The temple was built in a marsh and some things have not changed the marshy ground recedes in the summertime. When the weather is warm, you're more likely to see the foundations of the ancient temple.
The site is free to visit. If you'd like to know more about its history, a good guide can bring the story of the temple to life. The guided experience will be well worth the extra fee. They'll explain just how massive the temple was in its glory days. The marble structure would have been 180 feet and 377 feet long, complete with 127 60-foot-high Ionic columns. The guide also can talk about the artwork that would have been house within these walls&mdashsculptures created by Greek masters stood beside gold and silver work and large-scale paintings. Some of the works depicted the Amazons-the mythical tribe and reputed founders of the city of Ephesus.
The Temple of Zerubbabel
Thus, about 600 years before the earthly advent of our Lord, Israel was left without a temple. The people had become idolatrous and altogether wicked, and the Lord had rejected them and their sanctuary. The kingdom of Israel, comprising approximately 10 of the 12 tribes, had been made subject to Assyria about 721 B.C., and a century later the kingdom of Judah was subdued by the Babylonians. For 70 years the people of Judah—thereafter known as Jews—remained in captivity, even as had been predicted (see Jeremiah 25:11–12 29:10).
Then, under the friendly rule of Cyrus (see Ezra 1, 2) and Darius (see Ezra 6), they were permitted to return to Jerusalem and once more to raise a temple in accordance with their faith. In remembrance of the director of the work, the restored temple is known in history as the Temple of Zerubbabel. While this temple was greatly inferior in richness of finish and furniture as compared with the splendid Temple of Solomon, it was nevertheless the best the people could build, and the Lord accepted it as an offering typifying the love and devotion of His covenant children.
Temple of Artemis
Located on the hill of Ayasuluk there is the Temple of Artemis, or Artemision, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, although from some excavations its location is presumed to have being in different places.
Dedicated to the cult of Artemis, very popular in the region, it became a much visited center of pilgrimage and so the city itself. Each year, a whole month of vacation was taken for religious ceremonials and contemplation.
The first temple was built in the sixth century B.C., Ionian Diptera structured, with two rows of columns on both sides and three rows in the front and rear. It had a total of 127 Ionic columns, with a height of 19 meters each, of which 36 had relief sculptures.
In 356 B.C., a disturbed and infamous character named Herostratus burned the temple in order to make his name immortal. That night Alexander the Great was borning in Macedonia, who later, upon his arrival in Anatolia, offered to make a donation to the temple, with the condition of attaching his name to it. However, his offer was rejected with a polite and discreet answer, “it would be improper for a god to build a temple for another god.”
So it was not until the fourth century that the second temple was built in the same tier but with a base of 13 steps. A proof of its Anatolians origins is the fact that the temple faced west, while Greek temples have their face towards the East, as a rule. The same happened in the temples of Sardis and Magnesia on Meander. The columns were shorter and thinner and reliefs were made by the famous sculptor Scopas, while the altar were made by Praxiteles.
But in the year 262 B.C., the Goths invaded the area and razed the temple. Gradually, the Ephesians were converted to Christianity and the temple ceased to have the same old religious significance, so many Christians even used his remains and ruins for other constructive functions, as it symbolized the ultimate triumph of Christianity over paganism.
From the magnificent and sacred temple we can only see today one of the 127 Ionic columns, erected between 1972 and 1973 from several pieces of different columns, without reaching its original height.
The Grand and Sacred Temple of Artemis, A Wonder of the Ancient World - History
This Day In History: July 21, 356 BCE
On July 21, 356 B.C.E., a man named Herostratus deliberately set fire to the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus in modern-day Turkey, a beloved architectural marvel that was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Herostratus did not try to evade capture for his heinous act, rather he openly bragged about his crime, and his name became synonymous with a certain type of fame-seeker still very prevalent today.
Ephesus was one of the great Hellenic cities situated on the coast of Asia Minor. The Goddess Artemis was the city’s patron deity, and her breath-taking marble temple (the first in the world) was larger than a football field. A temple to Artemis had stood on or near that spot since 800 B.C.E., and the Ephesians loved their Goddess and her sacred temple so much that when St. Paul came a-calling four hundred years later preaching the Gospel, he barely escaped with his life.
Enter Herostratus – a guy so desperate for fame he’d do anything to achieve it. He clearly wasn’t messing around, because he went whole hog and set fire to one of the most revered buildings in the ancient world. When the people of Ephesus saw the smoking ruins of the temple, Herostratus made certain they knew that he was the guy responsible.
The motive behind Herostratus’ seemingly senseless act of arson was recorded by the historian Valerius Maximus, “so that through the destruction of this most beautiful building his name might be spread through the whole world.”
To make sure Herostratus did not get his wish, the punishment for his arson was two-fold: execution and a little something called damnatio memoriae.
That second penalty was no doubt far more appalling to Herostratus. Damnatio memoriae, or “damnation of memory,” literally meant that all traces of the person being punished were removed from history. This meant that Herostratus’ name was stricken from all official records, and the mention of his name was forbidden, either by word or in writing, on pain of death. This was to deny him his lust for fame and glory.
In spite of the risk, Herostratus’ name and heinous act of arson was recorded by the historian Theopompus, and his name lived on as a term to describe someone who commits a crime for the sole purpose of the resulting notoriety. The term Herostratic fame means “fame at any cost”.
A modern example of someone who became herostratically famous would be Mark David Chapman, the killer of John Lennon. In his own words, Chapman’s sole purpose for gunning down the much-loved musician was that “the result would be that I would be famous the result would be that my life would change and I would receive a tremendous amount of attention.”
Chapman was just in it to be a “celebrity.” If he had to murder a real celebrity to get there, so be it. That’s a classic Herostrat.
So, even with the Ephesians’ best efforts, Herostratus’ name did manage to live on.
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Where is the Temple of Artemis?
The Temple of Artemis was established near the ancient city of Ephesus, approximately 75 km south of the modern port city of Izmir. Today, it is located on the border of Ephesus Ancient City Selçuk. The sanctuary (temenos) in Ephesus was older than the Artemis Ruin itself. Pausanias was sure that the temple began years before the Ionian migration and was older than Apollo's divine temple in Didyma.
The pre-ionic inhabitants of the city were Leleges and Lydians. Today, 1 column and some sculpture pieces belonging to the temple are exhibited in Ephesus. The main reason for the temple damage over the years is that its roof is wooden. The top made of wood has not survived until today, although it has been repaired many times since it burned very quickly and was affected by the earthquake.
The Temple of Artemis consists of two phases. During the first phase, the Archaic period, the temple was hardly damaged. In the second phase, called Hellenistic, it was burned by Herostratos the night Alexander the Great was born. Accordingly, the following developments occurred in the phases of the temple
First Phase (Archaic Period)
Architects such as Chersiphron, Metagenes, and Theodoros worked in its construction. There are reliefs on the lower parts of the columns. It is assumed that there is a window in the pediment, and an epiphany is made from here.
Second Phase (Hellenistic Period)
The architects of this period are known as Paionios, Demetrios, and Kheirokrates. It contains similarities with the previous period in many respects. Differently, there are 9 columns at the back and 3 rows of columns in the front.
Throne of Montezuma
The magnificent stone monument variously referred to as the Monument of Sacred War, the Teocalli of Sacred War, the Temple Stone or, more simply, the throne of Motecuhzoma II (Montezuma), the Aztec king (tlatoani) who ruled at the time of the Spanish conquest, is covered with relief carvings of symbols, gods and Motecuhzoma himself. The throne, carved in the shape of a pyramid temple, commemorates the New Fire Ceremony of 1507 CE and, through art, demonstrates the inseparable link between fire and water and between this world's rulers and the eternal cosmos. It is one of the masterpieces of Aztec art and can be admired in its permanent home in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.
Discovered in 1831CE near the palace of Motecuhzoma II under what is now Mexico City, the throne was carved in 1507 CE from volcanic stone and measures 1.23 metres in height and around 1 metre in both depth and width.The object as a whole celebrates the triumph of the sun and the top is inscribed with the year 2 House which translates as 1345 CE, regarded as the traditional founding date of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. The throne appears in the form of a typical Aztec stepped pyramid with the back representing the sacred temple which stood at the top of such monuments. The stone may, in fact, be considered as a votive commemorative or teocalli (meaning 'house of god') of sacred warfare and the New Fire Ceremony (Toxiuhmolpilia). This ritual, held only once every 52 years on the completion of the full Aztec calendar cycle, was perhaps the single most important event in Aztec religion and life in general.
Presided over by the Xiuhtechutli, the god of fire, the purpose of the ceremony was to ensure the successful renewal (or re-occurrence) of the sun. Atop Mt. Uixachtecatl (or Citlaltepec), near the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, priests gathered at midnight and awaited a precise alignment of the stars. Then a sacrifice was made to Xiuhtecuhtli by cutting out the heart of a sacrificial victim. Fire was then kindled inside the open chest cavity and if the fire lit successfully all was well. If the flame did not light then it was believed to signal the coming of terrible monsters, the Tzitzimime, who would roam the darkness eating all mankind.
With the unthinkable possibility that the sun might not actually reappear, every ceremony was a crucial moment in Aztec society, but perhaps the one of 1507 CE was more significant than most. The Aztec empire had suffered several misfortunes leading up to the event, notably a devastating famine and destructive snowstorms, so that a new cycle and a fresh start was just what Motecuhzoma needed. Ultimately, the sun did appear again to welcome in another 52 years of cosmic harmony but, in reality, it was only 14 years later that strangers from the west would bring about the cataclysmic collapse of the Aztec civilization.
The twelve steps which approach the seat are flanked by an image of a rabbit on the left signifying the calendar date 1 whilst on the right side reeds represent the date 2. It has been suggested by scholars that these dates represent either the first and last years of the 52-year cycle or the years in which this particular New Fire Ceremony crossed over. Above these symbols, again, one on either side, are representations of cuauhxicalli - the vessels used to hold offerings such as the hearts of sacrificial victims during religious ceremonies. The one on the left has markings indicating a jaguar skin and the one on the right has eagle feathers.
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The back of the seat of the throne carries a large sun disk on which are indicated the cardinal and inter-cardinal points, a common motif in Aztec art. On the left of the sun disk stands the figure of Huitzilopochtli, the god of war and the sun, wearing his usual hummingbird headdress and with his left foot in the shape of a fire serpent whilst on the right stands Motecuhzoma II performing a sacrifice to the god. The seat of the throne has a relief of the earth monster Tlaltecuhtli of Aztec mythology. Therefore, when Motecuhzoma sat on the throne, he was in contact with both the earth and sun, and so was fulfilling his role as sacred guardian of both, separating them with his person and preventing the sun from collapsing onto the earth.
The large eagle on the back of the throne reminds of the legend of the founding of Tenochtitlán when Huitzilopochtli indicated the correct site with an eagle sitting on a cactus. The figures are the Aztec people who offer their hearts in sacrifice and homage to their gods and ruler. At the sides of the stone seated gods, each with a tetl or stone symbol on their backs, self-sacrifice blood from their loins, a typical ritual of Aztec religion. The four deities represented are Tlaloc (god of rain), Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli (Dawn), Xiuhtecuhtli (god of fire), and Xochipilli (god of flowers, summer and music). There are also marked the dates 1 Flint and 1 Death and a smoking mirror to represent Tezcatlipoca, the god of destiny. These scenes, therefore, combine with the other relief carvings on all sides of the stone to give compelling testimony of the divine favour enjoyed by Motecuhzoma's reign.