Temple of Artemis: One of the world’s largest, still-standing temples

The columns of the Temple of Artemis stand 17.5m high. (Photos: Ahmed Bani Mustafa/JNews)
The columns of the Temple of Artemis stand 17.5m high. (Photos: Ahmed Bani Mustafa/JNews)
AMMAN — Once an ancient Roman city, Jerash is home to several striking monuments. Among them is the Temple of Artemis, one of the largest still-standing ancient temples in the world.اضافة اعلان

Located 45km north of Amman, this edifice is one of two main temples built during the Roman empire in Jerash, the second being the temple of Zeus — the chief deity in Greek mythology and the equivalent of Jupiter in its Roman copy.

According to Greek mythology, Artemis is the goddess of hunting, the moon, virginity, chastity, and childbirth. She is the daughter of Zeus and Leto and twin sister of Apollo.

Roman and Grecian loyalty towards Artemis spanned centuries, and several shrines were erected in her name throughout the years.

Artemis was also an alternate to a local deity that was worshipped prior to the arrival of Greek colonists in 332BC. 

The most famous shrine that was built in her name was the one in Ephesus, Turkey, considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. However, there is not much to see at the now-eroded site.

Meanwhile, in Jerash, the temple is mostly still intact, and 11 of its “massive” columns still stand tall.

Built in 150AD during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius, the temple covered an area of 34,000sqm and is situated on the highest hill of Jerash.

Most of the structures in Jerash were destroyed by several factors — especially earthquakes —but the Temple of Artemis has even survived the devastating Galilee Earthquake in 749 AD, which destroyed many cities in its wake.  

More than 17.5m high with a diameter of 1.5m, the columns of the temple can be seen from kilometers away.

Each of the Corinthian capitals (tops of the columns) were cut out of two stones, even though capitals were usually built out of one stone.

In the Byzantine era, parts of the temple were dismantled under the edicts of emperors that were part of a move against pagan structures. Later in the same era, however, kilns were built inside its courtyard.

The temple was also reused as a castle during the Crusades in the 12th century.

Since the establishment of the Kingdom of Jordan, the temple has undergone several excavation and preservation projects conducted by the Department of Antiquities and foreign missions.