The city of Ephesus was first estalished on the shore of the bay at the point where Cayster River falls into the sea and on the slopes of Mt. Pion. When the alluvions carried by this river filled the bay, it was moved to the southwest of the mountain, that is, the slopes of Mt. Koressos.
In the antique age, Ephesus was on the west of the great trade road passing throught the Cayster Valley extending to Asia and it was the Beginning point of this road.
The oldest information about Ephesus goes back to middle of the 7th centry B.C., the neightboring Cimmerians who captured Magnesia tried to capture this place also, but they were not succesful. According to Strabon, the Ephesians moved down to the valley and started tol ive there under the reign of the Persian satrap Cyros II. During the first years of the Ionian Revolt which occurred between 499-493 B.C, this city was used as a base against the attacks of the Persians to Sardes. The Ephesians killed all the Chians who escaped from the Lade War. Because Miletus and Chios which were port cities leading the lonian revolt were the main competitors of Ephesus in trade. This peace with the Persians lasted for about 50 years. Xerkses looted all the temples on his way back after he was defeated in Greece in 478 B.C.. But he did not touch the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus.
Ephesus, which became under the proctection of Athens beginning from 454 B.C., supported Sparta during the Peloponnesian Wars between 431-404 B.C. and participated in the revolt against Athens which started in 412 B.C.. The Sparten king turned this place into a base against the threats of the Persians in return of this military aid after 403 B.C.. Inn 394 B.C. the Ephesians participated in the Navalof Conan established against the Spartan one. Antalkidas gave the city back to the Persians which was captured by the Spartans again in 387 B.C.. The dictatorship of Syrphaks and his family followed this.
When Alexander the Great captured the city in 334 B.C., Syrphaks was killed and, thus, a period of affluency fo last for fifty years started. After the death of Alexander the Great, Lysimachos who was one of the generals of Alexander became the ruler and he moved the city to the valley between Mt. Koressos and Mt. Pion between the years of 286-281 B.C. He inhabited the place with the people called from Lbedos and Kolophon. Although he named the city after his wife Arsinae, this name was forgetten in a short time. During the Hellenistic Period Ephesus lived glorious days. When the Romans defeated the Syrian King Antiochos in 189 B.C., the left Ephesus to the Pergamese Kingdom. Ephesus came under the rule of Rome upon the will of the Pergamese King Attolos upon his death (133 B.C.). The western Anatolian cities revolted againstthe Romans with the provocations of the Pontus King Mithridates II. The Ephesians attacking the Romans killed even the ones who took refuge with the Temple of Artemis. Sula subdued this revolt fiercely and punished the city with a heavy tax. During the reign of Augustus, Ephesus was the most important Asian Province of Rome.
The build acitivities in Ephesus started with a series of state buildings such as the Arch of Triumph built in 3 B.C. and the aqueduct built between 4-14 A.D. made Ephesus the largest and most important city of the Roman Empire in Anatolia.
Meanwhile, Chiristianity was spreading fastly in this city The Romans who were against the doctrins of St. Paul had prostested him in the theatre of the city. The house where Virgin Mary had spent her last days and died beside St. John who was one of the writers of the Bible was near Ephesus. At the same time Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia and St. John had the divine inspiration in this city.
The Goths burned and destroyed both Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis in 262. The city never had her glorious days again. The Roman Emperor Constantinus I built a bath and Arcadius built a road extending to the port from the grand theatre.
In 431. A.D., the Third Ecumenical Council met in the Virgin Mary Church in Ephesus. The Council excommunicated Nestorius and accepted Virgin Mary as the mother (The tokos) of God.
Since the port of Ephesus was completely filled with the alluvions carrid by the Cayster River at the beginning of the Middle Ages, Ephesus became smaller since it was no more a port city or a trade center. When it was captured by the Seljuks in 1090, it was a small village. Ephesus was completely left after it went throught a short glorious period in the 14. th century.