After exploring the House of Virgin Mary, our group piled back on the bus and made our way down the mountain to visit the ancient city of Efes (Ephesus). Instead of the usual tour spiel, our adorable director gave us a mission: find the hospital, the pharmacy, and the whorehouse. On a mission to dominate the competition, I set out with Bailey (who had been to Efes on her fall break, and therefore had a strong advantage over other members of the group), Catherine, and Jack to find these buildings. We quickly found the hospital and pharmacy, located across the street from one another, and set out to find the brothel and its advertisement. Bailey and I scoured every room of that brothel but could not for the life of us find what was supposed to be a giant, image-based advertisement. Sick with a cough and slight fever, I gave up after fifteen minutes and wandered in a daze through the Agora and amphitheatre, but Bailey was successful and found the advertisement (a footstep engraved on the ground and a picture of a woman with a giant heart etched around her).
The city was one of the largest in the ancient world, supporting a population of 250,000 in the Roman era, and was famed for its Temple of Artemis, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. After exploring the library and marketplace, I got to look at the preserved terrace homes of wealthy Romans. The story goes that slaves did everything for the people who lived in these condominiums – except cook. Our tour guide explained that because the slaves lived in such terrible conditions, their masters were afraid of being poisoned, and so they ordered food from local restaurants. Who would have thought that “take away” has been a thing since the 1st century?
Before leaving Efes, I watched a ten-minute presentation of sorts.. It involved a trumpet fanfare welcoming the Emperor, clad in purple and followed by his advisors, followed by Cleopatra walking in (also wearing purple) and her party of bellydancing Egyptian women. The women danced briefly, until the contemporary Olympics anthem played and two gladiators entered the circle. They bowed to the Emperor and Cleopatra and began to fight, hitting each other with metal swords until one fell to the ground in submission. The victorious gladiator did not kill the loser, though, which was nice of him I suppose. The whole affair was very bizarre, and I’m still a little confused about what happened there. It was entertaining, I will admit.