Visiting Ephesus, Turkey, on my recent travels reminded me that natural disasters are not a new phenomenon. Dating back to the 10 Century BC, Ephesus became a thriving city of an estimated 50,000 to 170,000 people and was the third largest Roman city in Asia minor around the time of Christ. The magnificent buildings of stone, from the Library of Celsius and the Coliseum to the Temple of Artemis, must have been breathtaking.
Wars, revolts, an earthquake in 617 AD, all contributed to the ruin of this city. Ephesus eventually lost its port as the harbor silted up and led to its decline. (Today the city is 6 miles from the sea.) This magnificent city, one that was probably built to last forever, was completely abandoned by the 15th century. Today, archeologists estimate that they have only uncovered about 20% of the city.
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The house believed to be her final dwelling, is a simple two room stone structure and quite a contrast to the elaborate buildings only 4 miles away. Pilgrims come from around the world to visit her home and to pay their respects. Additionally, St. John is believed to have written his gospel in Ephesus and St. Paul spent two years here preaching and establishing the Christian community.