What a city was ancient Ephesus! The gateway from Europe to Asia in biblical times; a teeming city of 250,000 souls–the fourth largest in the Roman Empire; the scene of Paul’s greatest church planting project; home to Timothy, John, and maybe Luke; and the location of one of the most vibrant congregations in history.
We can learn so much from the story of the founding of the church of Ephesus in Acts 19 and from Paul’s message to the elders of that city in Acts 21. And then, of course, there are two epistles to the Ephesians in the Bible—the one that we call the book of Ephesians and the other a short missive in Revelation 2:1-7.
Today the city is home to storks and turtles and an astonishing number of cats. But its ruins are considered among the finest in the world, even though only a fraction of the city has been excavated. It’s the most developed site in Turkey.
In visiting Ephesus, one can walk down a long ancient street containing an upper town, a downhill avenue, and a lower town. The upper end seems to have been more governmental and included a small theater hall (an odeion or concert hall). The lower street seems to be more commercial. In between are the latrines.
In the middle of the city is Domitian Square with its marble sculpture relief of Nike, a flying Greek goddess of victory with the crown ready to reward victors. And near the public square is the… public latrines. Our guide explained that a pool in the middle was filled with frogs to drown out sounds, and with an open ceiling to clear away odors. The long togas would have insured modesty, so he said.