Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ephesus

Indiana Jones makes archeology look exciting. The reality is something far more tedious and painstaking and would not be attractive to most people. Even a visit to somewhere incredibly old is hard to really appreciate, unless there is some connection to or understanding about the place one is witnessing. In some cases it is knowledge of the events that took place there, other times it is a simple pop-culture connection such as the site was used in a favorite film.

Ephesus is an archeological site that is amazing and exciting in many ways. It is a huge site, even though less than a fifth of the city has been exposed. The reconstructed buildings and homes are beautiful, and it is easy to imagine the way it was 2000 years ago. There is the front of the Library of Celsus is an important example of Roman architecture. It is hard to imagine the building full of 12,000 scrolls, and even stranger to think that the building served the double purpose of being both a library and a grave.

There is also the fascinating public toilet, and the statues dedicated to various gods. (Nike, the god of victory and sports probably has more followers today in the US than she ever did in ancient Rome.) But the most amazing place in Ephesus is the theater.

Seating 44,000 people it was the largest outdoor theater in the world for its day. It still looks impressive, but the amazing thing is to think of it in the context of history. This was where the riots against Paul took place. He walked the streets of this town and probably was in this theater at some point. To connect to history in that way is an amazing feeling.

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