Beginning in the Roman Republic, Ephesus was the capital of proconsular Asia, which covered the western part of Asia Minor.
The original city of Ephesus was located on low ground, and was completely flooded by the sea. The city was rebuilt by Lysimachus, who destroyed the cities of Lebedos and Colophon in 292 BCE and relocated their inhabitants to the new city.
The city bore the title of "the first and greatest metropolis of Asia." It was distinguished for the Temple of Artemis (Diana), who had her chief shrine there, for its library, and for its theatre, which would have been capable of holding 25,000 spectators. It was, like all ancient theatres, open to the sky; it was used initially for drama, but during later Roman times gladiatorial combats were also held on its stage. The population of Ephesus has been estimated to be in the range of 400,000 to 500,000 inhabitants in the year 100 CE, making it the largest city in Roman Asia and one of the largest cities of the day. Ephesus also had several major bath complexes, built at various points while the city was under Roman rule. The city had one of the most advanced aqueduct systems in the ancient world, with multiple aqueducts of various sizes to supply different areas of the city, including 4 major aqueducts.
Although sacked by the Goths in 263 CE, Ephesus remained the most important city of the Byzantine Empire after Constantinople in the 5th and 6th centuries. However, other destructions by the Arabs in the year 700 and 716 spurred a quick decline: the city was largely abandoned when the harbor completely filled in with river silt (despite repeated dredges during the city's history), removing its access to the Aegean Sea. When the Seljuk Turks conquered it in 1090, it was a small village. After a short period of flourishing under the new rulers, it was definitively abandoned in the 15th century.
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