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Just to the north of the State Agora lies the ruin of the Market Basilica of Ephesus. This structure can be dated back to the 1st century AD. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the middle of the 4th century AD and never rebuilt.

The word basilica comes from the Greek word Basileus, a term for Caesar. The term can be roughly translated to mean Caesars Hall. Because basilicas were major meeting places for the community, eventually the church adapted the word and used it to mean “a gathering place.” This would have happened around the 4th century when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire.

In ancient times the Basilica would have been a major gathering place used primarily for business reasons. It served as the center for stock exchange and commercial trading. The Praetor, a Roman magistrate who served as a judge, would have sat here to preside over court cases and help solve business disputes between tradesmen.

The Basilica would have been a 160 meter long rectangular building situated in front of the Odeon. When it was first built a roof would have stretched above the impressive colonnade to protect from summer heat or rain. Ionic order columns adorned with bulls’ head figures symbolizing power would have served to divide the arcade into three naves. There is evidence that these were changed to Corinthian columns during the reign of Augustus. At that time the Basilica was connected to the Various Bath via three gates to a stoa.

Today visitors can still see the ruins of the impressive columns stretching along what was the colonnade. Statues of the Emperor Augustus and his wife, Livia, were unearthed during excavation of the east side of the basilica. The statues currently are on view in the Museum of Ephesus.

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