The temple of Artemis at Ephesus (in Ionia in Turkey) was one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. Ephesian Artemis, though linked to her Graeco-Roman counterpart, was distinctive from the traditional goddess and endowed with particular powers. Primarily, she was venerated as a great mother-goddess, most akin to the eastern goddess Cybele. Worshipped from at least the archaic period, her cult images were originally carved in wood and adorned with jewellery.
Ephesian Artemis is characteristically depicted much as she is in the present example. Much scholarly debate has sought to decipher the meaning of the egg-shaped nodes; it has been variously suggested that they represent female breasts or bull testes, or are the iconographical descendents of the amber gourd-shaped drops discovered in excavations of the temple in the late 1980s, which may have adorned a wooden cult figure. Regardless of the source of this extraordinary iconography, it should be presumed that the goddess's dress evoked her powerful fertility, and echoed the rituals her cult demanded.
Artemis of Ephesus is depicted in all media well into the Roman era. The most famous example is 'the Great Artemis statue', 9 ½ ft. tall, which was found inside the Prytaneion in Ephesus, and is now in the Ephesus Museum (R. Fleischer, 'Artemis Ephesia', LIMC II, Zurich and Munich, 1984, no. 74). It is fascinating to note that in the surviving images, Ephesian Artemis always retained her primitive iconography, resisting the classicizing that befell other archaic Eastern icons.