Mark D. Roberts

Part 3 of series: Ancient Ephesus and the New Testament
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In late June I took a tour of Ephesus. It lasted about two hours, and was quite informative. Our tour guide, a Turkish woman (in center of picture to the right) really knew her stuff. It turns out she had studied archeology in grad school, and had even participated in some of the digs at Ephesus. She only got one thing a little wrong, from my point of view. The so-called “brothel” in Ephesus was not, in all likelihood, a brothel so much as a boarding house. But the brothel story is much more interesting. (If you’re looking for a real ancient brothel, try Pompeii. Seriously. The wall frescoes are x-rated.)
The valley in which Ephesus lies slopes toward the sea. Therefore tours of the city tend to start at the eastern end and work toward the west, which means tourists can walk downhill rather than up. This is helpful in the summer especially, when the temperatures can be quite steamy. When we were in Ephesus, the thermometer was well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and there is almost no shade available among the ruins.
Near the eastern entrance to ancient Ephesus you’ll find plenty of vendors, some of them literally sticking their wares into your face, only a couple of inches from your nose. You can buy clothing, hats (recommended for the tour if it’s hot and sunny), soft drinks, and various souvenirs. Don’t bother with the supposedly authentic old coins. They’re neither authentic nor old.
The beginning of the tour of Ephesus is relatively unimpressive. For the most part, you see dozens of stones, obviously part of ancient buildings. But you won’t see any restored ruins, except in the distance. Almost all of what makes Ephesus so special lies out of view, down the slope of the valley.
Near the beginning of the tour there was a stack of what looked like pieces of terra cotta pipe. Indeed, these sections of pipe were once part of the elaborate fresh water system for Ephesus. The Romans, who were masters of moving water around, had build aqueducts that brought water to the city. Then large pipes, pieces of which you can see in the photo to the right, moved the water around to key locations of the city (the baths, fountains, men’s toilet, etc.).

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