Temple of Artemis in Gerasa

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The Temple of Artemis or Artemision was a Roman-era unfinished temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis in the ancient Gerasa (modern Jerash). Though during the Roman period significant evidence exists for the growth in importance of Artemis as the patron goddess, the large temple was never completed.

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This temple was built as a shrine to Artemis, who was the patron goddess of Gerasa. It lies inside the large courtyard of the sanctuary. The construction of the temple began in the second century CE, however, it was never finished and only twelve columns out of a planned total of thirty-two were erected.

The temple sits on an extensive system of underground vaults, the exact purpose of which is not known. At the back is an adytum (inspect), or the inner shrine, where only the Roman priest would be permitted. The inner sanctuary contains a niche for a deity and two side chambers. One of the chambers has a staircase leading down to the vaults, and a second chamber has a staircase leading up to the roof, indicating that there may have been an altar on top.

The temple was used during later times as well, possibly as a church during the Byzantine era, by potters during the Umayyad times and in the 12th or 13th century CE it may have been used as a fort by a group of Crusaders.

Notable Structures

circa 180 CE

This propylaeum, which in Greek means 'before the gate', was part of the grand and monumental approach to the Temple of Artemis that began on the east bank of the wadi. Worshippers would cross a bridge and then ascend this magnificient gateway. Its four colossal columns were aligned with the colonnades of the street an the entryway was richly decorated and comprised three openings. Behind it is a stairway leading upwards, which is more than thirty meters wide and ends at a terrace. A second wider stairway followed, which stretched about a hundered meters horizontally and was crowned with a colonnade, of which only a few unstable fragments have survived today. This colonnade stood in front of the peribolos (the wall at the limit of the sanctuary) that surrounded the temple, but that is now completely destroyed.

The construction of this impressive group of monuments took advantage of the steep slope they were built on, creating a majestic rise towards the temple. It is an outstanding example of monumental architecture from the second century CE.

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