Temple of Domitian

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The Domitian Temple was built in the 1st century AD. It was originally believed to have been dedicated to the Roman Emperor Domitian, the first Emperor who allowed Ephesians to erect such monuments to the Romans. Recent evidence suggests that the temple was actually erected for the emperor Titus. Either way this would have been considered a great honor for the city. During the Roman period, Ephesians dedicated many buildings in the city to emperors. This helped secure good relations and the support of Rome.

The temple was constructed on vaulted foundations on a second floor terrace at Domitian Square. It sat 50×100 meters in size. The northern side of the terrace would have been reached by stairs that are still visible today. Domitian Temple was built in a pro-style plan. It consisted of thirteen columns on the long side, eight columns on the short, and four additional in front of the cella. The ground floor of the building would have contained warehouses and shops. Northern side of the temple stood a U-shaped altar. This alter was removed and can now be seen at the Izmir museum.

Domitian was known as one of the most brutal Roman emperors. During his reign he persecuted many Christians in Roman cities including Ephesus. History holds Domitian as the one who exiled John the Apostle to the island of Patmos. The unpopular emperor was eventually killed by one of his servants. When they learned of his death, the citizens of Ephesus celebrated erasing Domitian’s name from inscriptions around the city. However, the Ephesians did not want to lose the city’s favorable status with Rome. They quickly re-dedicated the temple to the emperor Vespasian, the father of Domitian. The temple was eventually destroyed after the 4th century, when Christianity became the state religion.

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