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Ephesus The east gymnasium

Ephesus The east gymnasium

The East Gymnasium, situated to the north of the Magnesian Gate, dates to the second century CE; the sophist Flavius Damianus designed it, taking into consideration the sacred way which ran past it. Boys from the ages of six to sixteen attended these schools; they received not only school lessons here, but also training in the various athletic disciplines .

Gymnasia were divided into two parts; the building as a whole was called the “gymnasium”. The first part, a roofed school building called the “ephebeion,” included classrooms, a dining hall, and the rooms in which the wrestlers oiled themselves and then rubbed themselves down with sand. In front of this was the second part, an open court surrounded by columns, which was called the “palaestra;” in this, the boystrained in athletics and competed in the varios sports. In the Roman period, the gymnasia had both hot and cold water. With its recreational facilities, playing fields, gardens, and libraries, every gymnasium was a center of culture. The young people received instruction in grammar, music, gymnastics, and in athletic disciplines such as running, throwing the discus, long and broad jumping, wrestling, and boxing. School began early in the morning and had a day-long program that lasted until sunset. The classical gymnasium set as its goal “kalogathia” (being beautiful and noble). Plato notes that gymnastics are beneficial for the beauty of the body, as is music for the refreshment of the soul. The East Gymnasium (“the harem”) is one of the most impressive building complexes in Ephesus, with its thermal baths, palaestra, courtyards, classrooms, and imperial cult room.

The propylon (entrance gate) in the east had four columns with a triangular pediment. Rows of shops with colonnaded galleries once stood on both sides of the propylon . Excavations turned up the statues of Damianus and Phaedrina, his wife, Both of them are now on display in the archaeological museum in İzmir.

Parts of a statue of a girl were also found, which surely led to the mistaken identification of this building as “the harem”. The excavations have also demonstrated that a few structures, such as this gymnasium, were rebuilt in the Byzantine period. In addition, a church with an apse was found to the southeast of the gymnasium.