Photos by Jack A. Waldron
Pictured above, I'm leaning on one of the massive column bases of the Temple of Artemis Leucophryene, while in the far distance you can see the Propylon Gate that leads to the Agora and the Temple of Zeus Sosiplois. The Temple of Artemis Leucophryene (goddess with the white eyebrows) stands out among greatest temples ever erected during ancient times, and we will explore why that is.
The Temple of Artemis Leucophryene was designed by the same architect as the Temple of Dionysus at Teos, Hermogenes of Priene, which is not too distant from Magnesia. One of the temples' most unique features is its continuous 175 meter long frieze that wraps around the entire building (frieze panels featured further down).
The pseudo-dipteros Ionic structure stood on a nine-stepped crepidoma, and a stylobate measuring 41 meters across with 8 columns, by 67 meters in length with 15 columns.
The illustration above shows the layout of the temple. Hermogenes separated the columns by two and a quarter diameter, otherwise known as the eustyle, which offers a feeling of expanded space when used in combination with a pseudo-dipteros structure.
A statue of Artemis Leucophryene once stood on a raised pedestal within cella, and would have resembled the 1.5 meter tall statue pictured below that I took at the Selcuk Archeological Museum, near ancient Ephesus. Unlike the Greek mythology, the Ionian Artemis was associated with the Mother Goddess, a role adopted from the earlier Phrygian Mother Goddess, Cybele.
Fragments of the pedestal remain amongst the ruins of the temple still, and the fragment pictured below from the pediment, is not unlike the ornamentation featured in the illustration of the pedestal above.
As you can see in the photo below, elements of the temple are strewn all around the Sanctuary of Artemis, which covers a very large area. In the photo below, top capital drums that were positioned directly under the Ionic scrolls that in turn sat beneath the Corinthian capitals, sit side-by-side, with the Temple of Artemis beyond, and the internal defensive wall rising in the distance.
These building members give a detailed record of the magnificence and importance this shrine once held for the residents of the city.
Traditionally known as the Virgin Goddess by her Greek worshipers, Artemis was to assist in fertility and childbirth. However, not all of these traditions were adopted by her worshipers in Asia Minor, as well established traditions needed to be reconciled, and the case of Artemis, the Mother Goddess Cybele became her archetype.
Magnesia remained under Persian rule until the arrival of Alexander the Great, or as it is recorded, the arrival of his soldiers. According to the Greek historian, philosopher and military commander Arrian of Nicomedia (92-175 AD), whose book 'The Anabasis of Alexander' is a cornerstone in research on the campaigns of Alexander the Great, it is recorded that, in 334 BC both Tralles (modern day Aydin) and Magnesia sent representatives to Ephesus in order to submit to the Macedonian general. Alexander then ordered cavalry and foot soldiers to take both cities under his control, which they did.
Situated at the crossroads connecting Miletus and the oracular sanctuary of Didyma to the south, Ephesus and Byzantium to the north, and Laodikeia and Aphrodisias to the east, the tolls charged by the city are reflected in the fine ornamentation of their buildings, which were build on a grand scale. Pictured above and below, Ionic capitals from the Temple of Artemis Leucophryene.
The dedicatory monument pictured above is located near 1k on the sanctuary plan above. Behind the dedicatory monument we can see the white marble heap of the Temple of Artemis Leucophryene (Leucophryene, meaning 'White-browed'). A view in the opposite direction can be seen in the illustration below.
As can be seen in the illustration above, the Temple of Artemis faces west and slightly south (bottom left corner), with the large Altar in front of it, and the Propylon Gate that leads to the Agora and the Temple of Zeus Sosipolis.
About halfway between the dedicatory monument and the temple is where the Altar is located (pictured above in the right side of the photo).
The large Altar in front of the Temple of Artemis Leucophryene was modeled after the Altar of Zeus at Pergamon (illustrations pictured above and below).
Pictured below, a fragment of the Altar of the Temple of Artemis Leucophryene on display at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany (this is not my photo).
The city grid illustrated below is the work of Maria Saldana, and she offers some very interesting insight on possible reasons why the city grid would look like it is illustrated here (Maria Saldana: Procedural Magnesia). As can be clearly seen in the illustration below, the Propylon Gate, both Agoras, the Stadium, and city streets are designed at right angles. The Artemis temple and sanctuary on the other hand are on a different axis all together.
This may be due to Mount Thorax, and further, the worship of a sacred spring on the mountain. There is a possibility that the Temple of Artemis Leucophryene and its Altar are following a line that connect it with an aqueduct southwest of the city that brought water from a sacred spring on the mountain.
In the illustration above, there are several openings in the rear, or east pediment of the Temple of Artemis Leucophryene, and pictured below, you can see the same pediment with the openings. These openings were by design, to allow the goddess easy movement in order to tend to her duties elsewhere.
Fragments of the pediment from the Temple of Artemis Leucophryene can be seen at the Istanbul Archeological Museum (pictured below).
The dentrils cut into the decorative members that would have been located under the sima and on top of the lion head decorated cornice are huge (pictured below).
Some of the capitals and column drums from the Temple of Artemis Leucophryene have been put on display at the Istanbul Archeological Museum, however, there are many to be seen within the Artemis sanctuary at Magnesia (pictured further down).
Inventory 647T, Ionian Column Capital, Marble, Mendel Cat. 193 and Inventory 652T, Ionian Column Drum, Marble, Mendel Cat. 146, Soke, Aydin, Magnesia ad Meandrum, Hellenistic Period, 2nd c. B.C., Temple of Artemis Leucophryene, Istanbul Archeological Museum (pictured above and below).
Pictured above and below, capitals from the Temple of Artemis Leucphryene within the Artemis sanctuary at Magnesia.
All stacked inside the internal defensive wall, numbered and awaiting the funds needed in order to restore the temple to a state of some semblance. Making the temple more recognizable to the tourists who visit would be rewarding for the industry as a whole (pictured below).
The impressive Temple of Artemis Leucophryene today lays in a massive heap, a state it has most likely been in since it was destroyed in ancient times, though some pieces have been moved and relocated.
Still, there are gems to be found amongst the ruins, such as the relief pictured below featuring a female figure with outstretched hands grasping at two vines.
At first, I thought this was a capital, but after further research I was able to locate an illustration of the acroterion from the temple that has the same design, however, the piece in my photo is flat across the top with an egg relief. Needless to say, these are based on the same theme.
Is this Artemis herself, the daughter of Leto and Zeus, twin to Apollo, said by some to have been born the prior day, representative of the wilderness, fertility and midwife as the goddess of birth? More importantly, why are such treasures allowed to lay-in-wait for the next antiquities scavenger?
The ancient site of Magnesia has no fence around it, but instead, relies on a guard who leaves at five o'clock daily. One thing you hear constantly around these sites, is that there are cameras in place to catch those who would try to steal antiquities. I put zero faith in these methods, and hope these ancient treasures will be better guarded ASAP! Pictured below, a serpentine relief adorns the moulding of the stylobate.
To add to the problem of safeguarding such valuables, individuals who are necessarily interested in stealing antiquities, but rather, find it humorous to smash their alcohol bottles over these treasures during the midnight hours, or worse, don a can of spray paint to despoil our heritage.
Pictured above, odd building members piled and broken, waiting to be carefully excavated, numbered and stored.
The Istanbul Archaeological Museum has a small section of the Temple of Artemis Leucophryene assempled for visitors (pictured above and below), but there is a more complete display at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany. In the Istanbul display, you can see that the frieze is missing, as no reproduction was put in place.
An assembled section of the Temple of Artemis Leucophryene on display at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany. These artifacts give an idea of how the temple complete would have presented itself to its worshipers, though on an architectural basis, I continue to worship it today. Now, we will move on to what is probably the most celebrated relief feature of the structure, that being the Amazonomachy themed frieze.
The Louvre in Paris, the Pergamon Museum in Germany, and the Istanbul Archeological Museum in Turkey, all have extensive displays of the Ionic frieze of the Temple of Artemis Leucophryene. Pictured below is the complete collection on display in Istanbul. Pictured above and below, a Greek warrior grabs the bridle of an enemy horse.
The frieze panels depict a traditional Greek relief of an Amazonomachy, or battle between Amazons and Greek warriors. This is a common depiction used on temples from the 4C BC onwards, but rarely does a temple relief encircle the entire structure, and in this case, measuring one-hundred and seventy-five meters.
The ongoing battle scenes between the Amazons and Greek warriors is unrelenting, and in the case of the Temple of Artemis Leucrophryene, the scenes literally do not end as they circle the entire building.
Amazonomachy is explained simply as, the civilized Greeks versus the uncivilized Amazons. This all about the psychology of a refined people battling against a savage unrefined people.
When I think of the Amazons and the Greek warriors, it conjures up images from a comedy by Aristophanes called Lysistrata, in which the married women of Athens seize the Parthenon, and refuse to have sex with their husbands until they stop making war.
Perhaps the Amazons were simply the women in society who, in refusing to accept a rank that was lower than men, and thus appeared threatening to the order of society, were in turn villainized and attacked.
As you can see in the photo below, the Temple of Artemis Leucophryene frieze is quite tall, and its panels fill this Istanbul Archeological Museum room, which is dedicated solely to the twenty-meters of frieze recovered by Osman Hamdi in 1887.
Prior to the Osman Hamdi excavation, Charles Texier having rediscovered the temple location during a winter excavation of 1842 - 1843, discovered forty-three panels of the frieze, which are on display at the Louve in Paris.
Further excavations of the Artemision sanctuary were carried out by the German Institute at Constantinople during the 1890s, and more frieze fragments were discovered along with other sculptural elements, and taken to the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, where are on display.
Rather than babble on about the Amazonomachy scenes depicted in these reliefs, I trust that your trained eyes and open minds can deduce and question what they may or maynot represent. If however you decide to do further research on such iconographic imagery, you will find world full of possibilities that are addressed in depth.
By the way, that should be Heracles, or Hercules in the photo above, with his wooden club wielding around to strike an unsuspecting Amazon down.
I am not sure if the pilaster capitals pictured below come from the Temple of Artemis Leucophryene. Although I suspect they do, it was not mention in the descriptions of whether they did or didn't. That said, they were in the same room as the other temple artifacts.
Around the perimeter of the sanctuary are various pieces on display. I am not sure which building the members pictured below come from, but it they may be part of the sanctuary portico, or, the Altar of the Temple of Artemis Leucophryene.The cornice with lion head decoration and an intricate vine relief pattern (pictured below) is siting atop the triglyph decorated frieze, which in turn is sitting on two sections of an architrave.
If I am not mistaken, I think these are members of the Roman era Doric stoa that enclosed the shrine.
Sections of the Roman era stoa have been restored (pictured below), though the stone blocks and walls of the stoa building that once sat behind the portico have been mostly lost or re-purposed.
Pictured below, what appears to be the front of an altar with a lion head and garland relief that has been broken off from its round base.
Pictured below, a section of cornice decorated with bulls heads and garlands, this one probably coming from the Roman era stoa around the Artemission sanctuary.
Finally, off in the northwest corner of the sanctuary just inside the internal defensive wall, we can find a very well preserved toilet with fine inlaid mosaic walls (pictured below).
Access was apparently through the Agora, though the walls separating the toilet from the sanctuary are no more.
*All photos and content property of Jack A. Waldron (photos may not be used without written permission)
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