This column served as a structural support for the Temple of Artemis at Sardis, which was located in Sardis, the capitol of Lydia (now Turkey). It is estimated to have been created around 300 BCE by the Greeks. It is a marble fluted Ionic column that once stood over fifty-eight feet high. The column is currently located in the metropolitan museum of art.
This column was hand-carved by a craftsmen out of local marble, which was most likely found in the quarries that were in the foothills of Mt. Tmolus. The makers of the temple of Artemis at Sardis fashioned the stones together so that they fit so tightly they did not need to use mortar. "Metal clamps embedded in the stone reinforced the structure against earthquakes... workmen were hired to construct the wooden scaffolding needed for hoisting stone blocks and sculpture, and to make the ceramic tiles for the roofs. Metalworkers were employed to make the metal fittings used for reinforcing the stone blocks and to fashion the necessary bronze accoutrements for sculpted scenes on the frieze, metopes and pediments" [Hemingway 2003]. Current knowledge does not suggest that any rare or foreign materials were used, since most temples of the time were constructed using local stone. This column was found during excavations that were held in Sardis from 1911 to 1914 and it entered the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a gift of The American Society for the Excavation of Sardis in 1926.
Local Historical Context
The Greeks were the people who built the Temple of Artemis. They started their work on the temple in 300 BCE during which time Lydia had just come under rule of the Seleucid Empire. Seleucus Nicator ruled Lydia from 312-280 BCE.
Not much is known about the individuals who created the temple, but typically, "a Greek civic or religious body engaged the architect, who participated in every aspect of construction" [Hemingway 2003]. So in that case, it is most likely that some civic or religious organization commissioned the construction and Greek architects and craftsmen, whether they were brought in from Greece or were residents of Sardis, built the temple.
This temple was created in order to honor and worship the Greek goddess Artemis (as the name implies). She is the goddess of chastity, virginity, the hunt, the moon, and the natural environment. It is said that the temple is built on land that might have been sacred to the goddess herself. It appears that during the reign of Antoninus Pius (r. 138-61 CE) the cella of the temple were divided into two parts in order to accommodate the Roman Imperial cult. In 17 CE, an earthquake destroyed Sardis and Emperor Tiberius (r. 14-37 CE) started a redevelopment program, rebuilding the temple to serve as one of the largest Imperial-type bath-gymnasium complexes in Asia Minor.
This column was part of the fourth largest Greek Ionic temple in the world, even though the temple was never completed [Yegul 2004]. This temple was just one among the many Greek temples devoted to different gods and goddesses. We can see from the remains of various temples around the world that many different cultures had these structures in common, and the presence of the Temple of Artemis at Sardis shows just how far Greek civilization and culture stretched throughout Europe and Asia Minor.
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