F. H. C. Birch/Sonia Halliday Photographs
One of the largest cities in the Roman world of its day, Ephesus was built right to the edge of its magnificent natural harbor. Now silted up and planted with cotton, the ancient harbor appears as a green field in the background of the photo. The broad boulevard called the Arcadiane—the main street from the harbor of Ephesus—runs diagonally across the photo, ending at the city’s enormous theater (see plan).
In this theater, 24,000 Ephesian devotees of Artemis, goddess of nature and fertility, protested against Paul’s ministry. The organizer, according to the Book of Acts, was Demetrius the silversmith, whose sales to pilgrims of Artemis shrines had fallen off since Paul had begun preaching against the cult.
On the plain at the upper right in the photograph, remains of a fourth-century church are visible. Called the Church of the Virgin Mary, the building commemorates the tradition that Jesus’ mother spent her final days at Ephesus.