The Archaic Temple of Artemis at Ephesos
Artemis Ephesia, an Anatolian fertility goddess, was worshipped on the same site at Ephesos for a long period, her altar and shrine undergoing various construction phases and alterations. In the middle of the sixth century BC a new temple was constructed on a colossal scale: it was about 115 metres long and 55 metres wide. This period saw the construction of several immense temples in the East Greek world, including one to Hera on Samos, and to Apollo at Didyma, each one rivalling the other in scale and architectural grandeur. This was the age of competitive aristocratic patronage. At Ephesos it was the Lydian king Kroisos who is recorded as having provided the funds for many of the temple's columns. Fragments of inscribed column bases survive recording the dedication, 'King Kroisos dedicated this'. The temple may have taken many decades to complete but the defeat of Kroisos in 547/6 BC provides the earliest firm date for its construction.
Historical sources tell us that the temple was deliberately burnt down by Herostratus in 356 BC, and, according to tradition, on the very night that Alexander the Great was born in Macedon. Many of the architectural elements and sculptures from the Archaic Artemision show clear signs of burning.