In 262 A.D., the Goths destroyed Ephesus, including the Temple of Artemis. Some restoration of the city took place, but it never regained its splendor. In 431 A.D., a council was held in the Church of Saint Mary which confirmed the Virgin Mary as the mother of God.
Emperor Theodosius erased all traces of Artemis during his reign. He banned freedom of worship, closed the schools and temples and forbade women many of the rights they’d enjoyed before. The Temple of Artemis was destroyed, its ruins used to build Christian churches.
During the Byzantine era, Constantine the Great declared Christianity the official religion of all of Rome and made Constantinople the capital of the Roman Eastern Empire. This left Ephesus, a city already facing decline due to accumulating silt in its harbor, left to fend increasingly for itself.
The city relied heavily on its iconic places of worship to attract visitors to support its struggling economy. Still, Ephesus was a port city with a deteriorating harbor and there was only so much that could be done to literally keep it afloat.
In the sixth and seventh centuries A.D., a massive earthquake and the harbor’s continuing decline left Ephesus a shell of the city it used to be, and Arab invasions forced most of the population of Ephesus to flee and start a new settlement. Ephesus continued to deteriorate, although it experienced a brief period of growth and construction under the rule of the Seljuk Turks in the fourteenth century.
The Ottoman Empire took final control of Ephesus in the fifteenth century; however, the city was in dire straits, its harbor practically useless. By the end of that century, Ephesus was abandoned, its legacy left to archaeologists, historians and the thousands of visitors to flock to the region each year to see the ancient ruins.