Agora is a wide open area belonging to the people in ancient Greek cities, where all kinds of political, religious and commercial activities related to the city took place. Lined up buildings of agoras during the Hellenistic period were the precursors of the forums that emerged in the Roman Empire. Religious festivals and theater performances were also held in the agora.
Agora of Ephesus, built in the first century during the reign of Emperor Augustus and Claudius, is surrounded by galleries with columns on 3 sides. There is a temple dedicated to the Egyptian Goddess Isis in the middle of the Ephesus agora where religious and political meetings were held, as well as offices for civil servants.
There is a famous early Christian symbol carved on the pavement of Ephesus agora. This Christian symbol was used by Christians who could not practice their religion freely. Christians were persecuted and they developed secret ways of communication. Symbol of ICHTHUS (fish) was one of them. This symbol is combination of five Greek letters which are Ι Χ Θ Υ Σ.
- I is for “Jesus”.
- X is for “anointed” (of the Lord).
- Θ (T) is for “God’s”.
- Υ (U) is for “Son”.
- Σ (S) is for “Savior”.