– WTTEN-The Temenos As was customary in he Temple of Artemis – The Temenos As was customary in temple architecture in the Roman east, a spacious walled courtyard (the Temenos) surrounded the Temple of Artemis. This was a pagan Semitic tradition that was woven into Roman architecture in the Eastern Mediterranean and is rarely seen in the Roman West. The Temenos of the Temple of Artemis was accessed via a grand staircase from the Cardo Maximus and was the terminal point for religious processions honouring Artemis, the patron goddess of Gerasa. This title was shared with Zeus, but some historians believe that the Roman population of the city would have preferred Artemis (equated with Roman Diana), while the Hellenised and Nabataean inhabitants would have more likely followed the cults of Zeus and Dionysus (Dùshara), respectively. Sacrificial ceremonies honouring Artemis took place here, in this Temenos, the open space with a sacrificial altar, surrounded by colonnaded porticoes on all sides. Many Corinthian columns from these porticoes remain upright to this day, and, astonishingly, most of those on the back side of the temple are still partially buried in the sloping ground, waiting to be excavated. Corinthian Columns of The Temple of Artemis The majestic Corinthian columns of the pronaos (front portico) of the Cella of the Temple of Artemis are the iconic symbol of Jerash. Twelve 16-metre columns topped by intricately carved Corinthian columns once held up the non-extant pediment of the temple, and all but one of these twelve columns are still standing, while two are missing their capitals. Unfortunately, none of the remaining columns that encircled the Cella remain. Those that are left standing, however, are enough to impress even in their current ruined state, but would have been much more astonishing, especially as the worshipper walked up the monumental steps leading to the temple. Interestingly, one of these columns can be found thousands of kilometres away, in the Flushing Meadows park in Queens in New York City! It was donated by Jordan to the USA in 1965 at the World’s Fair. The Temple of Artemis – The Cella The Cella (inner sanctuary) of the Temple of Artemis was built on a raised platform, towards the western end of the courtyard Temenos, with steps leading into the pronaos and the interior. It contains the iconic symbol of Jerash, the majestic Corinthian columns of the pronaos (described in a separate tip). Much like the rest of the temple, the Cella was left to decay after the Christianisation of the Roman Empire, and it was partially destroyed in the earthquake of 749 AD. Thereafter, the Cella remained abandoned until the early 12th century, when Zahir al-Din Toghtekin, the ruler of Damascus, turned it into a fortress to enhance defences against the Crusaders, but Baldwin II of Jerusalem defeated him in 1121 AD and burnt the temple-fortress. Fortunately, the fire was not enough to completely annihilate the structure, leaving us with one of the most beautiful edifices in Jerash. The Temple of Artemis – Interior Although some stone carvings remain, the interior of the Cella of the Temple of Artemis is rather plain. This is because the marble covering the walls was removed or destroyed long ago, along with the altar containing a large statue of the goddess Artemis.