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John Turtle Wood left England for the Aegean coast of Ottoman Turkey in 1858 as an architect, not an archaeologist. His brief was prosaic -- to design stations on a new railway line between the port of Smyrna (now Izmir) and Denizli. To the Turks, however, the railway was a matter of pride, visible proof that the Ottoman Empire was modernizing and able to keep up with Europe. Indeed, in 1863 the sultan himself twice came to see the work in progress, even visiting the site of Ephesus using the new railway. In the same year, Wood, who had become less interested in railway stations and more and more obsessed with uncovering the remains of Ephesus, managed to secure both the financial backing (albeit limited) of the British Museum and permission from the Ottoman authorities to begin digging at the site -- and export any antiquities he discovered.

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