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Just behind the market basilica is the Prytaneion. The construction of the building dates to the 3rd century B.C, during the reign of Lysimachos. The building fell into ruins during the Augustan age and some the columns and other materials from the Prytaneion were used for the construction the Scholastica Baths in the 4th century.

The Prytaneion served as the official administrative building or the city hall. This is where religious ceremonies, official receptions and banquets were held. What differentiated a prytaneion building as different from a bouleterion was the sacred flame that would have been housed in a four-cornered pit. This sacred hearth would have been dedicated to Hestia, goddess of hearth & fire, and kept burning by the Curetes, priestesses of Hestia. The flames would have been taken from Mount Olympos when the city was founded and symbolized the heart of Ephesus.

From an architectural standpoint the Prytaneion would have been constructed like a private house. It held an assembly hall, administrative rooms, the state archives and a dining hall to welcome foreign visitors. Two out of the eight columns in front of the building can still be seen today. These columns lead to a courtyard surrounded by a portico. The courtyard was paved with a mosaic which depicted the shields of Amazons.

The eternal flame was housed in the ceremonial hall on the north of the building. It’s easy to see where the flame would have been located by the red coloring on the floor. The base of an altar is still recognizable today. Double columns on the corners of the hall would have supported the wooden roof.

During excavations, archaeologists found two statues of the goddess Artemis in the Prytaneion. The larger of these was found in the ceremonial hall while the other had carefully buried in the sanctuary. These statutes currently reside in the Ephesus museum.

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