F.H.C. Birch/Sonia Halliday Photographs

Pandemonium engulfed the 24,000-seat theater at Ephesus (shown here) when Ephesian devotees of Artemis, goddess of nature and fertility, denounced Paul’s ministry. The organizer of the demonstration was Demetrius the silversmith, whose sales of silver shrines of Artemis to pilgrims had declined since Paul had begun preaching against the cult (Acts 19:24–38). In imagining the scene better, one should include awnings that covered the spectators, as in the reconstruction of a typical Roman theater (see next image), for as Pliny the Elder tells us, “linen cloths were used in the theaters as awnings.” The making of such awnings may have provided work for Prisca and Aquila, as well as for Paul himself.

Now silted up and planted with cotton, Ephesus’ ancient harbor appears as a green field in the background of the photo. The broad boulevard known as the Arcadian Way—the main street from the harbor of Ephesus—runs diagonally across the photo, ending at the theater.