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Ephesus itself is one of the most profusely rich of archaeological sites.3
The ancient city of Ephesus was situated on the river Cayster which falls into the Bay of Scala Nova, on the western coast of Asia Minor. There was said already to be a settlement in this area in 2000 BC, around the sanctuary of the goddess Cybele. Ceramic objects have been found dating back to 1300 BC from the late Mycenean period and it was one of the leading cities of Asia Minor in the Iron Age due to its being in the centre of the trade routes, having fertile lands and a well protected harbour. However the harbour filled up with silt from the river Cayster, the town was cut off from the sea and the harbour became a marsh, so that the city had to be moved.

In the 11th century BC the Ionians took possession of the region, under the leadership of Androclus, son of the Athenian king, Codrus. The city was captured by Croesus, who contributed to the construction of the great temple of Artemis. Thereafter the city suffered a variety of changes of fortune and the temple was finally destroyed in 352 BC. The city was replanned circa 294 and passed to the Romans in 133. The present remains lie in the valley between Mount Prion and Mount Coressos. The temple and part of the city have been excavated and among the ruins uncovered are the Prytaneum, arcaded streets, baths, gymnasia, temples and churches and a library.

During the Roman period Ephesus was at its most illustrious. It was said to be the second biggest city in Roman Asia, next to Alexandria. Estimates of the number of inhabitants vary from 50,000 to 350,000. Under Octavius Augustus many monuments were added and most of the ruins that we see today are from this period. Other famous Roman emperors were connected with the city, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius among them.
The Theatre (no 44 on the plan) (
Fig 11)

At the foot of Mount Prion the Great Theatre had a seating capacity of 24,000 and was first constructed in the 3rd century BC, but the present remains date from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD and are the work of the Emperors Claudius (41-54 AD), Nero (54-68 AD) and Trajan (98-117 AD).

At the entrance, on each side of the first flight of steps up to the theatre, are one possibly two, columns of cipollino with Corinthian capitals. They measure .20 m. /.67 Rf in diameter at the base of the shaft, with an estimated height of 5 m. /16.9 Rf There may have been one or two more pairs, with only one of each remaining (Plates 4.1 & 4.2).
Marble Street (no 34 on the plan)

The Marble Street stretches from beyond the Great Theatre to the Vedius Antonius Gymnasium. Construction was started in the Hellenistic period but many alterations were made over the years, including in the time of Nero and Hadrian. It is likely that much more cipollino marble was to be found there in the past. In the Marble Street there is a fragment of a standing broken cipollino column 1.58 m. /5.33 Rf high, with a diameter at the top where the column was broken off of .49 m. /1.65 Rf (Plate 4.3). A second broken piece measures .93 m. /3.14 Rf high with a diameter of .50 m. /1.68 Rf at the top.
Baths of Scholastica (no 27 on the plan)

The Baths of Scholastica lie between the Temple of Trajan and Trajan’s Fountain and the baths, the latrines and the brothel are said to have formed a building complex. We know from experience in other Roman cities that the Romans often used cipollino marble in their sanitary arrangements. In the baths of Scholastica there are two sets of three cipollino columns with Corinthian capitals and collars at the base. The cipollino marble remains in some parts of the columns but in others has been reconstructed in cement. Two of the columns, the middle one of each set, have no marble left. The estimated height of the columns is 5 m. /16.9 Rf and the diameter .51 m. /1.72 Rf with the collar (Plate 4.4).

Friends who visited Ephesus in autumn 2009 said that considerable work had been carried out since 1982 and that the area marked 29 on the plan, ‘the houses on the hill slope’, had been excavated to some depth and had been roofed over. There was evidence of marble panelling on the walls of the houses but they could not tell me certainly that there was cipollino, although they thought it probable

3 Pausanius, Guide to Greece, Volume 1: Central Greece, Book VII Achaia, translated by Peter Levi, Penguin Books, 1979, P.231 Note 8.

Maps and Plates

Fig 11.jpg

Fig 11 Plan of the Ruins of Ephesus

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Plates 4.1 & 4.2 Cipollino columns at the entrance to the theatre, Ephesus.

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Plates 4.1 & 4.2 Cipollino columns at the entrance to the theatre, Ephesus.

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Plate 4.3 A partial cipollino column in the Marble Walk, Ephesus.

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Plate 4.4 Three of the six cipollino columns in the Baths of Scholastica, Ephesus.