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Ephesus and Nike, the Goddess of Victory

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The Library of Celsus, Ephesus

The Library of Celsus, Ephesus

Ephesus (Efes in Turkish), built in the 10th Century BCE, is one of the top attractions for anyone visiting Turkey. Its proximity to Izmir airport and to the cruise port of Kusadasi, makes it attractive to visitors from all around the world.

The excavation of this nearly 5000-year-old site started in 1869 and continued until 1895 under the auspices of the British Museum. The Austrian Archaeological Institute began their excavations in 1895 and it still continues to this day under Turkish government ownership. There was only a two year break during the WW II. Since 1954, the excavations have been done by the Austrian Institute and the archaeologists at the Ephesus Museum with an emphasis on protecting and restoring the structures and monuments.

Ephesus in a beautiful valley

Ephesus in a beautiful valley

I had a chance to visit Ephesus in April. It was my third visit. And every time I’ve come to this well preserved, magnificent ancient city, I’ve had a chance to see a new section unearthed, ready to receive thousands of eyes looking and mouths gawking. So far, only 10% of this magnificent city has been excavated.

On a sunny day in April, we walk through the ancient cities of Ephesus, listening to our guide. Some of what he says I remember from my previous visits. There is a lot more to learn. I am already excited to see the new section: The Terrace Houses.

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The Terrace Houses

It is still amazing to see again the Library of Celsus, the Portico of Alyterc, Hadrian’s Temple, Hadian’s Gate, and the 25,000 people-capacity amphitheater. There is also a Market area, ancient public bathrooms, baths of Scholastikia, and many more structures. To view beautiful pictures of Ephesus, please visit www.virtualtourist.com.

Not-so-ancient cats in Ephesus

Not-so-ancient cats in Ephesus

Main Road, Ephesus

Main Road, Ephesus

Public toilets, Ephesus

Public toilets, Ephesus

Our guide shows us a stone carving of Nice or Nike (pronounced Nee-key), the Winged Goddess of Victory in Greek Mythology. The Roman name is Victoria. She was the daughter of the Titan Pallas, the god of war, and of the goddess Styx, and the sister of Zelus (zeal), Cratos (strength), and Bia (force). She flew around battle fields or peaceful competitions awarding the victors with a wreath of laurel leaves, palm leaves, or sashes. She is often cited in the stories about Athena, the Goddess of War, Wisdom and Arts. Our guide tells us to pay attention to her dress. There is a fold in her dress looks like the logo of Nike.

Nike, The Goddess of Victory, Ephesus

Nike, The Goddess of Victory, Ephesus

So, Nike, the sports company, has chosen a perfect brand name. Interestingly, the well-recognized “swoosh” logo of Nike looks exactly like the symbol embedded in the statue of Nike in Ephesus.

The Nike “Swoosh” logo was created by Carolyn Davidson, while she was a student at Portland State. In 1971, she was asked to create a logo for a small company named Blue Ribbon Sports owned by an accounting professor, Phil Knight (later to become the co-founder and chairman of Nike, Inc). She prepared a few alternative logos. Although the executives of the Nike did not fall head over heels for the ”swoosh” logo, they did choose it to be the company logo. The company paid her $35 for her work. Later, in 1983, she received an envelope from Nike containing an undisclosed amount in Nike stocks; speculators estimate about 500 stocks, which is worth more than a half a million dollars today.

The company name, Nike, was introduced a year after the “Swoosh” logo.

Nike Logo

Nike Logo

So, after all my research, it is still not clear to me if the company has been named Nike because the “swoosh” logo was seen on the stone carving of Nike at Ephesus or not. The logo creator does not mention anything about the stone carving of Nike at Ephesus.

Or is it synchronicity? Maybe both the logo creator and the name creator had the same idea in mind. Something to reflect victory— that “I did it!” feeling.

If you go to Ephesus, check the stone carving of Nike carefully if you are as curious about it as I am.

By the way, there is another town named Ephesus and it is in Georgia, USA. This town is named because the church and the elementary school were named after Ephesus, the biblical city in Turkey.

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