Among the largest Ionian buildings is the magnificent temple of Artemis, which adorned the once rich capital of the mighty Lydia, the city of Sardis, the most famous in the ancient world. At first, the inhabitants designated a new sanctuary for the goddess Cybele, popular in Asia Minor, but the campaigns of the glorious Alexander the Great changed the situation.
In the IV century BC. e. the goddess of hunting and fertility pushes aside her rival in importance, and in about 546 BC. e. On the site of the old building, a Greek-style temple is being reconstructed.
The building had a pompous appearance. The length of the building is about 100 meters, which is one and a half times the size of the Parthenon. Political crises, a change of government, wars and earthquakes constantly interfered with the completion of the sanctuary, which is why its construction was delayed for centuries.
The Romans who replaced the Greeks honored the emperors more than the gods. Instead of Artemis, the most honorable places during their reign in the temple were taken by the imperial couple - Atnoninus Pius with his wife Faustina (II century AD).
By the 4th century, Sardis had not yet lost their importance in the ancient world, but the once majestic sanctuary was almost abandoned. A church to the new god, built by Christians, appeared near the temple. Professor G. Butler, who arrived in 1910 for excavations, found a pitiful sight.
The ancient ruins of the grandiose structure were covered with earth and debris, with the exception of a pair of surviving tall columns in the eastern part. Archaeological work was carried out thoroughly over several seasons in 1910-1922.
The Temple of Artemis had deep porticos, 8 columns at each end and 20 side columns. Only two grandiose 18-meter columns have been completely preserved, and the 13 remaining ones were half destroyed. By the size of the upper surface of the stepped basement, the dimensions of the sanctuary are 48.5x104 m.
Thanks to the surviving fragments, the scientists managed to reconstruct the external appearance of the framing of the entrance to the inner part of the temple, to sketch out an approximate initial plan of the structure. The use of bilingual inscriptions by ancient builders helped archaeologists learn many new Lydian words.