Located on the coast of modern-day Turkey, Ephesus was first inhabited in the 10th Century BC by Greek colonists. Ephesus' first claim to fame came in 550 BC when the Temple of Artemis was constructed in the city. Ephesus was therefore home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Throughout its history, Ephesus was controlled by the Lydians, Persians, and Greeks during various periods. Alexander the Great ruled for a short period until his death, succeeded by the Seleucid Empire. In 129 BC, Ephesus was taken over by the Roman Republic. But due to revolts and political shifts, Roman control was not absolute until 86 BC.
During his reign, Emperor Augustus gave Ephesus special status as the seat of Roman power in Asia. This began a Golden Age for Ephesus, which came close to matching Rome in its importance. But over the centuries, the city gradually declined until it was ransacked by the Goths in the 3rd Century AD. Despite a late flourishing during the reign of Constantine, Ephesus' star had faded.
From AD 50, the city was also an important site for Christianity in its early years. Paul, one of the Apostles, lived there for a few years. During this time, Christians were heavily persecuted by the Romans. But once Christianity became the dominant religion of the empire, Ephesus attained its status as one of the seven churches of Asia.