History of Ephesus Ancient City

Prehistoric History of Ephesus

One of the highlights of our Private Ephesus Tours is of course Ephesus Ancient City. We should know that Ephesus is not just the ancient city visited today. So that during the latest excavations by Ephesus archaeologists, mounds called Cukurici and Arvalya were found in the region, and these mounds date back to 6000 BC. Then, for now, we can say that the history of Ephesus began in 6000 BC. Now, let’s leave the prehistoric periods of Ephesus aside and continue the history of Ephesus chronologically.

Amazon period of Ephesus
History of Ephesus – Period of Amazons – Representative illustration

Period of Amazons

According to a legend, if we ignore the prehistoric period of Ephesus, it was founded by the tribe of the Amazons, great female warriors also who had a flawless ability to use bows and arrows. It is widely believed that Amazon women were priestesses of Hittite origin. So initially the name of the city of Ephesus was Apasas. Apasas was the name of an Amazon Queen and means Queen Bee in the Hittite language. This may be the reason why many of the coins unearthed during the excavations in the ancient city of Ephesus have a relief of a queen bee on one side. As you can guess, the name of today’s Ephesus is derived from the first name of the city, Apasas.

Androclus Frieze Ephesus - Temple of Hadrian
Androclus Frieze – Temple of Hadrian

Greek History of Ephesus and Story of Androclus

Ephesus was founded for the second time around 1050 BC by Androclus, the son of the Athenian king Codrus. The city of Ephesus founded by Androclus also has a well-known mythological story; Androclus, who wants to explore the other side of the Aegean Sea and establish a new city, visits the oracle in Delphi before starting his journey. Androclus asks the oracle where he should place the city. The oracle tells Androclus to place the city where you see the fish and the wild boar. After a long journey on the Aegean Sea, Androclus and his friends manage to reach the slopes of Ayasuluk Hill, which is within the borders of today’s Selcuk (Ephesus). One day Androclus and his friends cook and eat the fish on an open fire. However, this fire they burn causes a fire in the forest. Androclus sees the wild boar among the animals fleeing the fire and thinks the prophecy has come true. Thus, the location of the second Ephesus settlement is determined.

Celsus Library - Ephesus
Library of Celsus – Ephesus

With the Greeks’ migration to Ephesus, which started with Androclus, the city became an Ionian city. The Ionians ruled in Ephesus for about 500 years. In 560 BC, Croesus, king of Lydia, captured the city, but only ruled for 16 years. Because the Persian invasion started in 546 BC. Persian domination in Ephesus continued until 334 BC. In 334 BC, the savior of the Ionians, the Macedonian king Alexander the Great, defeated the Persians in the battle of Granicus. Ephesus, which became an Ionian city again, was moved to where it is today by the order of Alexander the Great, by his commander Lysimachus in 295 B.C. The reason why the city was moved to its current location was that the previous settlement area became swampy and the port became unusable. Also, epidemic diseases such as malaria emerged.

Great Theather - Ephesus
Great Theather of Ephesus

Roman Period of Ephesus

Almost all of the structures you see in the Ephesus Ancient City today belong to the Ancient Roman period. The Romans settled in Ephesus without any bloodshed. So the King of Pergamon Attalos voluntarily left Ephesus to the Romans after his death (in BCE 129). Ephesus was declared the capital of Asia Minor by Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire. Ephesus reached its most glorious period during the Roman Empire. So that the population of the city reached up to 250000 people. Of course, there was a reason why Ephesus was a very significant city throughout history and was constantly attacked. The reason is actually very simple, being a harbor city and its location, which made Ephesus the trade center between east and west.


The history of Ephesus is much more detailed and long. We haven’t invented the time machine yet, but we can take you back 2000 years by joining our Private Ephesus Tours.

Private Ephesus Tours from Port of Kusadasi and Hotels.

Private Ephesus Tours from Port of Izmir and Hotels.

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