Like all great cities, Ephesus was a mixture of shops, theatres, domestic terraced houses, baths, court-houses, streets, squares, schools, libraries and many other forgotten institutions. The amphitheatre (below) held 25,000 people. It was also a huge port which brought goods and people from all over the empire, dropping them off virtually in the heart of the city. Then, one day, the sea dried up and the town died.
We had hired a little white, Fiat Uno from Bodrum, and as we drove across the vast, arid plain which was once the sea-bed which bordered on the port, we tried to stay cool in the car (which had no air-con) by winding the windows right down in the two doors. It was as if there were a mad demon clinging onto the outside of it, pointing a hair-drier straight into our faces, set to maximum. We spent all day drinking about a gallon of water each, and drank no alcohol at night - the very idea of the slightest hang-over in that weather was unthinkable. A friend of mine had been in that part of Turkey the previous week, when the weather had been even hotter, and he had broken an egg onto the pavement outside his hotel to see if it would fry. It did.
A few weeks before we left England, I had a dream about an ancient port which was one of those rare, incredibly lucid and full-colour ones. I found myself walking around the crescent-shaped quay with strange-looking, wooden sailing boats moored up beside it, and stone-built shops on the other side, built against the rising land behind. The waterfront was bustlingly busy, and trade at the quayside shops was brisk. I realised in my dream that this was a Roman port, and was elated at being given the opportunity of seeing it first-hand.
At Ephesus, we made our way down from the ruined town to the old port, and as we went round the corner to the quay, I saw the exact same port as in my dream - but all the people were gone with the sea, and the stone shops were empty. About 6 feet down from the edge of the old harbour, the dry and dusty plain began and stretched as far as the eye could see - well over the horizon beyond.