It was destroyed in 356 BC in an act of arson committed by Herostratus. According to the story, his reason for setting the fire was that he wanted to go down in history. (From his name derives the term herostratic fame.) The legend continues that Artemis herself did not protect her temple, because she was too busy tending to the birth of Alexander the Great, which took place that same night. The reconstruction of the great Temple of Artemis was destroyed during a raid by the Goths in 262 A.D.
The temple's location was rediscovered in 1869 by an expedition sponsored by the British Museum, and several artifacts and sculptures from the reconstructed temple can be seen there today.