We have been relaxing in a little Turkish resort town called Bodrum for the past few days. This place is hopping in the summer months, but it is nice and sleepy now. Our little group took a minivan up to Ephesus yesterday, a two-and-a-half hour drive north.
Ephesus is supposedly one of the best preserved Roman cities, besides Rome itself of course. Under Emperor Augustus, it was the capital of the Roman province of Asia. The city used to lie right by the sea, but the centuries have shifted the coastline about 10 mile west (which actually led to Ephesus' eventual decline). Instead of the ocean, the ruins now lie next to a large open plain. This story of change is one that suits Ephesus particularly well, perhaps best symbolized by the statue of Livinia, Emperor Augustus' wife, which was found broken to pieces and "Christianized" by a cross crudely carved on her forehead.
I couldn't possibly retell all of the interesting stories from Ephesus here on this little blog. But if you have some time and are interested, you can start to read about it here.
Take, for instance, Anatolia, the Mother Goddess. She predates the Roman occupation of Ephesus, and took up primary residence at the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. The many round items on her chest are either a) breasts b) bees' behinds or c) bull testes - no one is quite sure. All of these things are fertility symbols, though, so perhaps it doesn't really matter.
More pictures from the Ephesus trip are here.