East Gymnasium

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Immediately to the North of the Magnesian Gate, at the foot of Panayir Mountain, is the Gymnasium of Ephesus.  Built as a bath-gymnasium complex around the 2nd century AD, it was one of the largest buildings of Ephesus where young boys could go to be educated and exercised.

According to an inscription, the Gymnasium was built by Flavius Damianus and his wife Vedia Phaedrina to educate the young people of Ephesus on sports, music, astronomy, and social skills. The couple dedicated the structure to the Goddess Artemis and to Emperor Antoninus Pius. Boys aged six to sixteen would have been accepted for education in the school.

The building consists of an auditorium for ceremonies and conferences, bathing rooms, boutiques, and a stadium.  The hall of emperors is heavily decorated with mosaics and once held the statue of the emperor. The bathing rooms are sectioned into four main rooms, the Apodyterium for changing, the Frigidarium for cold bathing, the Calderium for hot bathing, and the Tepidaruim for tepid bathing.  One either side of the bathing rooms was built vaulted halls for physical exercise and for strolling after bathing.

Despite the educational center being strictly reserved for boys, the East Gymnasium is often known as the Girls’ Gymnasium because of the multitude of female statues that have been excavated from the site. Along with the nameless female statues, archeologists have found statues of healing god Asclepius, Aphrodite, Dionysus, Hygeia, and Pan. In the cold bathing room, a statue of the god of the River Kaistros was discovered. In ancient times, the bathing room would have had water pouring into the pool from the amphora that the god was leaning on. The statues are all currently in the Izmir Archaeology Museum.

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