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Ephesus The church of mary (the so-called council church)

Ephesus The church of mary

This, the first church in history named after the Virgin Mary, was one of the most important houses of worship in Ephesus. It is situated immediately next to the harbor, north of the harbor baths. In its conneetion with the important church council of 431, it plays a prominent role in the history of Christianity.

This structure, which dates from the second century CE, measures 260 meters in length, and 30 meters in width. It was originally a museion, or the south stoa of the Olympieion (Temple of Hadrian), which lay to the noılh. At the beginning of the fourth century, an apse was built into this three-aisled stoa, and the structure was converted into a basilica. In those times, the holy sacraments were guarded in the rooms on either side of the apse, called postaphoria. The atrium, narthex, and baptismal room all lay west of the main structure. The middle aisle (the nave) had the same width as the apse, and the two side aisles were narrower. Columns and chancel slabs separated the three aisles. The narthex, which lies between the atrium and the nave, had an expensive mosaic floor. This part of the church, with the main door into the narthex and the columns to the side, is quite impressive.

The basilica had a vvooden roof which had a much higher level över the nave than it did över the side aisles.
The middle section of the atrium was cobbled together with inscription tablets from various structures of various periods. Although the octagonal baptismal room to the north of the atrium, and the hail to the west, have been excavated, it seems that there is one further room to the east. The round baptismal font in the çenter of the basilica is one of the typical characteristics of the early Byzantine period. The dome rose över this. The Roman cross motifs are stili visible in the large recessed comers.

Justinian (527-565) altered the floorplans of both this basilica and the Church of St. John, so that the çenter of the church was between the apse and the narthex. This new church was smaller, but also domed. It was constructed solely of bricks, and was restored betvveen 1985 and 1986. The marble basin (omphalos) in front of the apse comes from the harbor baths, and was carried to this area later, when it was converted into a graveyard.

The dome probably fell victim to an earthquake in the tenth century, thus putting the church out of service. At that point, a smaller church was built in front of the main apse, which had not been included within the small basilica. Some of the columns of the ikonostasis and the chancel slabs that connected them were able to be restored. A chapel was also built onto the side of the basilica.

Excavations are stili continuing between the Church of Mary and the parking.