As it is also the case of other ancient cities, also the archaeological artefacts found in Ephesus can be seen in different locations around the world. The findings excavated between 1867 and 1905 were taken to the British Museum, while the Ephesos Museum in Vienna displays numerous artefacts discovered between 1896 and 1906, when seven Austrian archaeological expeditions transported findings to Vienna. Luckily, numerous artefacts are now on display in the Ephesus Archaeological Museum in Selçuk, near the ruins of Ephesus.
The reason why the Austrian archaeologists were able to transport the findings from their original location to Vienna was an agreement between the Ottoman Empire and Austria. Abdul Hamid II, the Ottoman Sultan at the time, presented a generous gift to Emperor Franz Joseph: several of the ancient objects that had been discovered were gifted to the Imperial House, allowing them to be exported to join the collections in Vienna.
Austrian Navy vessels subsequently brought several shipments of archaeological finds back to Vienna, where they were provisionally warehoused and put on occasional display at the Theseus Temple in the Volksgarten. These amazing treasures include the reliefs of the Parthian Monument, Four Virtues of Celsus, a bronze statue of an athlete, and architectural fragments from the Octagon, the theatre, and the Middle Harbour Gate.
The export of antiquities from Turkey was generally banned with the proclamation of the Turkish Antiquities Law of 1907; as a consequence, Vienna was to receive no more such finds. After the collection had been kept in various makeshift settings for many years, December 1978 finally saw the Vienna Ephesos Museum opened in its present-day form inside the Neue Burg section of the Hofburg complex.
Find out much more about the ancient city of Ephesus in our guidebook "The Secrets of Ephesus".
- Bronze Statue of an Athlete
- Statue of Antia Julia Polla
- Five blocks with a letter from the Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus
- Bust of an Agonothetes
- Portrait of Emperor Hadrian
- Portrait of a boy
- Abduction of Ganymede
- Torso of a statue - Apollo
- Torso of a togate statue
- Head of a citizen
- Head of Homer
- Ideal portrait of the Striding Poet
- Sphinx devouring a boy
- Head of Hermes
- Head of a goddess
- Statue of Nemesis
- Head of a Ptolemaic Queen
- Two herms with the bearded head of a divinity (Hermes?)
- Composite pillar capital
- Emblema capital
- Middle Harbour Gate
- Eroses hunting lions
- Mosaic emblem
- Rotunda from the Panayır Dağ
- Bull's Head Capital
- Parthian Monument
- The Octagon
- Scaenae frons from the theatre
- Theatre fragments and a seat
- Base of a statue
- Battle of Riders
- Hera of Ephesus
- Four virtues from the Celsus Library
- Celsus Library: segment gable
- Bald man head
- Portrait of a youth
- Serapis enthroned
- Central part of a sundial
- Foot of a statue
- Torso of a cuirassed statue
- Portrait of a woman
- Portrait of an Agonothetes
- Pan with the infant Dionysos
- Diadumenos (Diadem-Bearer)
- Fragment of a building block with religious inscription
- Baby boy with an Egyptian goose
- Heracles battling a centaur
- Head of a satyr playing a pipe
- Head of Poseidon and its plaster cast
- Young boy with grapes
- Capital of a lamp stand and a lamp with five nozzles
Bronze Statue of an Athlete
After sports and competitions in the palestra, the athletes cleaned of oil and dust with the strigilis, a curved scraper. This Roman statue from the first century CE, copied from a Greek original from the fourth century BCE, shows a young man, who cleans himself with the lost strigilis with his thumb and forefinger of the left hand. The whole attention of the youth is focussed on this activity. This motif was well-known and widely popular in the ancient world, and the statue cannot be attributed to any specific Greek artist, but further Roman repetitions in marble and reproductions on clay reliefs and cut stones prove the high degree of popularity of the original. This statue, which has been reconstructed from 234 fragments, was found in the palestra of the Harbour Gymnasium of Ephesus.
Statue of Antia Julia Polla
Portrait statue from the south gate of the Lower Agora in Ephesus, which may well depict Antia Julia Polla, sister of the consul C. Antius Aulus Julius Quadratus. The portrait's body was found inside the south gate of the lower Agora in 1903, just eight years into the long-term Austrian excavations at Ephesus. The head was found in a debris layer near the same gate and was joined to the body in 1934. Water damage to the right foot, left hand and shoulders, as well as to the lower mantle hem on the back, suggests that it stood for years in an open air location. At some point, the face was damaged by a fall or other blows to the eyes, brow, nose, lips and chin.
The hairstyle dates the statue to the late Trajanic period. The body replicates the Small Herculaneum Woman type in a way typical of the Trajanic period. The proportions are naturalistic and attention is given to an illusionistic rendering of the drapery lines, but only when seen from a distance. The folds of the mantle at the crook of the right elbow and across the groin, for example, are thick and strongly shadowed, but they are cut into the marble without the detailed, illusionistic effects of fabric overlying body volumes that characterize some very high quality replicas of the earlier Imperial period.
"(This statue honors) Antia Julia, daughter of Aulus, Polla, sister of Gaius Antius Aulus Julius Quadratus, son of Aulus, Voltinia (tribe), consul twice, septemvir epulonum, Arval brother, legate and propraetor of Asia twice, legatus augusti of the province(s) of Pontus and Bithynia, Cappadocia, Galatia, Phrygia, Lykaonia, Paphlagonia, Armenia Minor, proconsul of Creteand Cyrene, imperial legate and propraetor of the province of Lycia-Pamphylia, legate and imperial propraetor of Nerva Trajan Caesar Augustus Germanicus Dacicus of the province(s) of Syria, Phoenicia, Commagene, and Tyre. The setting up of the statue was carried out from their own funds by Ti. Flavius Pythio, son of Perigenes, Quirina (tribe), asiarch, and Flavia Myrton, his wife, with their children, Flavius Aristoboulus, Flavius Iulianus, Flavius Scapula and Flavia Pythias."
Five blocks with a letter from the Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus
From 162/163 CE, made of marble, found in the west facade of the stage building in the theatre. The fourth block is a copy and the original is in the British Museum in London. This inscription contains the answer sent by Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus to Ulipius Eurycles, the commissioner of accounts of the gerusia, i.e. the council of the elders of Ephesus. Instead of addressing his query to the proconsul, he had written directly to the emperors, asking if he can:
- melt down damaged silver statues of earlier emperors to cast portraits of the two rulers;
- collect partially embezzled funds a second time;
- reduce or refuse customary referrals.
Bust of an Agonothetes
Severian period, early 3rd century CE, made of marble, from the theatre of Ephesus. The bearded man wearing chiton and himation in the fragment of a bust sports a full head of hair and an unusual headdress: a wide 'crown' of ribbons and a wreath of leaves set with a small central bust of a bearded deity. Such 'bust-crowns' identified an agonothetes, a public benefactor - great aristocrats who donated and paid for games for the populace held in honour of the Olympian gods or an emperor.
Portrait of Emperor Hadrian
From 120-130 CE, made of marble, from the southern gate of the Tetragonos (Commercial) Agora of Ephesus. The exceptional portrait of Emperor Hadrian was probably commissioned in connection with the statue erected to commemorate the ruler's visit to the city in 123 CE. Hadrian's characteristic hairstyle and beard follow a type named after a head now in the Museo Chiaramonti in the Vatican. The excellent condition of the surface has retained traces of the original polishing.
Portrait of a boy
Reworked, the 3rd quarter of the 3rd century CE (?), made of marble, found near the Middle Harbour Gate of Ephesus. One half of the head of this portrait of a pensive boy with short straight hair has survived. Presumably it was originally meant to be inserted into a bust or a statue, but later it was turned into a relief and marked with a cross on the cheek at some time later. Its condition suggests that this happened in antiquity.
Abduction of Ganymede
Roman, the 2nd century CE, after a Greek original from the 2nd half of the 4th century BCE, made of marble, repurposed in the late-antique fountain set up in front of the Library of Celsus. This fragmented group depicts the abduction of Ganymede, the son of King Tros of Troy (or Dardanos).
Clad only in a cloak (chlamys) slung over his shoulder, the handsome youth is kneeling on the rock, but Zeus in the shape of an eagle with outstretched wings and sharp talons bears down on him to whisk him up to Mount Olympus, leaving behind the boy's surprised dog. The tree trunk at the back once functioned as a support for the heavy marble group.
Torso of a statue - Apollo
Roman, Claudian, mid-1st century CE, made of marble, found in the substructure of the theatre in Ephesus. This statue has been identified as a copy of the Apollo of Antium which shows the deity holding a bow in his lowered left hand. His contrapposto conforms to the canon devised by the Classical sculptor Polykleitos.
Torso of a togate statue
Roman, the 3rd century CE, made of marble. The toga was a distinctive garment of ancient Rome. It was a roughly semicircular cloth, between 13.7 and 6.1 meters long, draped over the shoulders and around the body. It was usually woven from white wool, and was worn over a tunic. In Roman historical tradition, it is said to have been the favored dress of Rome's founder, Romulus.
Head of a citizen
Roman, Augustean, last quarter of the first century BCE, made of marble, from Ephesus, repurposed in the Byzantine wall on the Pion Hill (Panayır Dağ). Depicted turning vigorously to the side, this head of a man aged around fifty was designed to be inserted into a toga statue. It has some distinctive features combining a high forehead and thinning central parting, hollow cheeks, pointy chin, and aquiline nose. Informed by likenesses of Julius Caesar, and the Late Republican's repertoire of virtues, such portraits were very popular; the larger than life statue may depict the owner of one of the villas situated on Panayır Dağ.
Head of Homer
Roman, 1st century CE, after an Early-Hellenistic original, made of marble. The head presumably comes from a herm and represents a type long - but erroneously - identified as the philosopher Appolonius of Tyana. Today, it is regarded as a retrospective portrait of Homer, an identification also supported by ancient coins. The portrait is connected with a statue of Homer once put up in Athens and described as depicting him "with straggly hair".
Ideal portrait of the Striding Poet
Roman, late 1st century CE, after a Classical original from the 5th century BCE, made of marble, from the Marble Hall of the Harbour Gymnasium in Ephesus. This striking portrait of an old man with short curly hair and a thick beard depicts an anonymous poet who has much in common with the statue of the so-called Striding Poet in the Louvre.
This ideal portrait depicts the restlessly roaming singer with the parted lips, a detail informed by portraits of Themistocles and Pindar known from Roman copies. This portrait was presumably part of the original decor of the so-called Marble Hall in the Harbour Gymnasium, dated in an inscription to the late-Flavian period.
Sphinx devouring a boy
Roman, 2nd century CE, after a Greek original around 440 BCE, found in the Marble Hall of the Harbour Gymnasium; plaster model of A. Rainbauer, 1959. Archaeologists were able to reconstruct two identical groups depicting a sphinx devouring a boy from over 70 extant fragments that are now in Vienna and London. The depiction references the myth that a sphinx guarded the entrance to the Greek city of Thebes and would kill travellers unable to solve her riddle.
The model for this group is a detail from the chryselephantine statue of Zeus at Olympia, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Around 440 BCE, the celebrated sculptor Phidias decorated the armrest of Zeus' throne with such a group.
Head of Hermes
Roman transformation, 2nd century CE, after a Greek original, made of marble, found in 1896 near the propylaea of the Harbour Gymnasium in Ephesus. The wings identify this youthful deity as Hermes, the messenger of the gods, his face is framed by his famous curls. This is the transformation of the head of a statue of Hercules produced by the Greek sculptor Polycleitus in the second half of the 5th century BCE.
Although the wings change the figure's identity, and his turned head and the conception of his hairstyle have also been altered, this copy from the early Antonine period clearly references the Classical bronze model.
Head of a goddess
Roman, 1st century CE, after a Greek model from around 460 BCE, made of marble, found in the Marble Hall of the Harbour Gymnasium in Ephesus. This head belongs to the statue of an unidentified goddess; unfortunately none of the extant copies of this type - known as 'Candia' after one of the oldest examples which was discovered on Crete - have retained an attribute that would allow archaeologists to identify her. However, the large number of extant ancient copies suggests that all these statues are based on a well-known Greek model from the Classical period.
Statue of Nemesis
Roman, c.200 CE, reworking of a type from the early 3rd century BCE, made of marble, found in the debris of the stage building of the Ephesus theatre. The attributes of this statue of a woman dressed in a chiton (undergarment) and a cloak identify her as Nemesis, the goddess of divine retribution: in her right hand she holds a staff, in her left hand - a cornucopia, she also wears the divine crown (polos).
Beside her, a gryphon has placed its left front paw on a wheel to symbolise the restless movement. The globe identifies the deity as the ruler of the world, the rudder placed on top of it as the one who guides the universe.
Head of a Ptolemaic Queen
Greek-Hellenic, 3rd century BCE, made of marble, found in the theatre of Ephesus. This larger than life-sized head of a woman was originally inserted into the statue of a cloaked figure. The traces of workmanship on the back of the head and the neck are often found on Hellenistic sculptures.
In the imitation of the hairstyles sported by goddesses, her wavy hair is parted in the centre, combed backwards, and put up at the back of the neck. The traces of a tiara identify the figure as a Hellenistic (presumably Ptolemaic) queen, possibly Arsinoe III Philopator, Queen of Egypt (c.246-204 BCE).
Two herms with the bearded head of a divinity (Hermes?)
Roman, 2nd half of the 2nd century CE, made of marble. Left: Ephesus, south-west corner of the late-antique fountain in the front of the Library of Celsus. Right: Ephesus, Atrium Thermarum Constantianarum (Harbour Baths).
Herms are quadrangular columns to which were added a head, male genitals, and often short, rectangular stumps in place of arms. In ancient Greece they mainly functioned as images of divinity or votive offerings, in the Roman Empire primarily as decorations or supports.
Both herms represent the same type, which reverts back to Greek classicism in motif. Presumably displayed as a pair, they were later reworked: on the left one a groove was added to hold a barrier, turning it into a fence-herm, the right herm was reworked into a console.
Composite pillar capital
Roman, 3rd century CE, made of marble, from the Southern Harbour Gate of Ephesus. Direct access to the Mediterranean was crucial for Ephesus' role as a prosperous merchant city, and its harbour was embellished with three splendid arched gateways.
An inscription naming the donor dates the Southern Harbour Gate to c. 216 CE; its complex groundplan offers an elegant solution to a complex architectural problem: it connects the angled façade looking out on the harbour with the recessed, arched main façade facing the city. This explains the rhombic platform of this Composite capital.
Roman, late 1st/early 2nd century CE, made of marble, from the Arcadiane Street in Ephesus. This capital is a good example of the wealth of forms popular during the Roman Empire period: a decorated column neck has been added to an Ionic capital comprising large volutes and bundles of leaves set on the side of the pulvinus. In the early 2nd century CE, this design combining S-shaped voluted flanking an area filled with palmettes and flower buds was frequently used on flat pilaster capitals.
Middle Harbour Gate
Roman, reign of Hadrian (mid-2nd century CE), made of marble, stood at Ephesus at the west end of the Arcadiane Street. The following components from the Middle Harbour Gate are now in Vienna: one of the 16 Ionic capitals, two anta capitals, one pillar capital, and one door lintel from the central gate.
During the Roman Empire period, visitors arriving at Ephesus by ship entered the city through monumental gateways. One of the metropolis' main arteries was the Arcadiane, which led from the harbour to the city's large theatre. The Middle Harbour Gate, marking the street's western end, was erected during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. The gateway comprised four canopies, each resting on four Ionic columns; a wall connected the canopies with the three arched gates. On its narrow sides, a pillar was placed between the outer columns.
The quality of the gate's architectural decor is outstanding. The Ionic capitals imitate Classical models from the 5th century BCE. These stylistic recourses are most obvious in the pillar- and anta capitals: their side planes are decorated with an acanthus leaf below which grow volutes that develop along the edges before curling up to form the side ends of the profiled cornices of the main façade (egg-and-dart, palmettes, egg-and-dart). Its models are archaic and classical anta capitals like those found in the temple of Apollo at Didyma.
Eroses hunting lions
Roman, early Roman Empire, the 2nd half of the 1st century CE. The stage wall of the theater in Ephesus was one of the richest decorated and decorated architectural ensembles of Roman Ephesus. The three-storey façade, rich in columns, aedicules, and architectural decoration, was also adorned with sculptures, including a relief frieze with hunting Eroses. Fragments of this frieze were found in the 19th century and taken to London, before the beginning of Austrian excavations in 1895, and then - to Vienna.
Two winged Eroses hunt a lion with the spear, while two dogs grab the lion by the hind legs: the left Eros boy stands outstretched behind a rock, the right one is reproduced in the lunge and in back view with a swinging right arm; a coat is draped over his left arm. Noteworthy are the color remains in red and brown, the spears were painted entirely. The sculpting work is of high quality, especially the spatial depth of the representation. The composition of the frieze goes back to pictorial models from Hellenism.
Late antique, 6th century CE, made of marble, limestone, glass and brick, from the Late-antique peristyle houses in the Harbour Gymnasium of Ephesus. This exceptional central emblem depicting a cupid driving a chariot (biga) drawn by dolphins across the sea is a rare example of a late-antique mosaic from Ephesus. In addition to local stones, the artist used tesserae made of brick and glass.
The emblem originally functioned as the centre of a large floor mosaic that decorated the main public room of a private house in the late-antique metropolis. The 5th and 6th centuries CE were the glory years of these houses erected in the palaestra of the former Harbour Gymnasium at Ephesus, but they were destroyed and abandoned in the early 7th century.
Rotunda from the Panayır Dağ
Late-Hellenistic or Roman, 2nd half of the 1st century BCE, made of marble, originally from Panayır Dağ (Pion Hill). In the late first century BCE, a tower-like monument was erected on the Pion Hill. Its location - both on the hill and within the city - is remarkably prominent and thus it ensured that it could be seen from afar, perhaps even from the ships approaching the harbour.
A two-storey-high central-plan building rises above a square base made of cushioned ashlar; the circular lower storey was enclosed, and the walls of the cella were decorated with twelve half-columns with Doric capitals. Above, a Doric frieze comprising triglyphs rises on the upper storey where the recessed wall is surrounded by a circular columned hall. The entablature featuring a continuous frieze comprising volutes and foliage is surmounted by a low cylindrical parapet.
Both the use of Roman concrete and the unusual, adventurous decor suggest that the building dates from the second half of the first century BCE, i.e. the late Hellenistic period. Its function remains obscure but may be connected to the countless fragments of drinking vessels from the Early Empire, some of them of outstanding quality, found nearby.
Bull's Head Capital
Roman, early 1st century CE, made of marble, from the Stoa Basilica of the Upper Agora in Ephesus. The capital comes from the stoa (basilica), the large hall on the north side of the Upper Agora. An Ionic capital has been embellished with two protruding bull's heads.
There is a structural reason for this change: the bull's heads lengthen the support for the architrave, making it possible to place the columns holding up the roof of the stoa over five meters apart. This is also the reason why the top of the column and the capital are worked from a single block. In addition to their structural function, the bull's heads emphasise the hall's sacred aura, documenting that the basilica also served as a place of worship.
The Parthian Monument is one of the most important extant Roman-age reliefs from Asia Minor. In five thematic cycles (the Battle Scenes, the Adoption Scene, the Personifications, the Assembly of the Gods, and the Triumph) it commemorates the Roman Emperor Lucius Verus, who established a camp in Ephesus during his Parthian Campaign of 161-165 CE. The individual pieces have been arranged in the form of a monumental altar, but this is only a guess at their correct arrangement, as they were not found in their original state. The friezes have a total length of about 70 metres, of which 40 metres are on display.
Quite surprisingly, there is still much that the scholars do not know about it. The structure is represented by a number of relief tablets and fragments from a monumental frieze that were found in various locations within the ruins of Ephesus. All of these pieces had been repurposed at least once, making it impossible to point out the structure's original location. Moreover, the archaeologists have been unable to determine the plan and appearance of the building were the friezes had originally been installed. Thus, it is impossible to decide what was their spatial arrangement.
Several proposals concerning the monument have been made so far, and possibly the most popular one claims that it was a huge altar - similar to the Altar of Zeus in Pergamon - with the main frieze running along the main level. However, other proposals suggest that it was a square building with an inner courtyard, with the relief tablets placed on its internal or external walls.
The significance of the monument has long been recognised. In 1903, one of the most fascinating fragments was discovered - the one showing four Roman emperors from the 2nd century CE: Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Lucius Verus, and Marcus Aurelius. However, the scholarly debate is still ongoing, concerning the meaning of the monument. Was its main purpose to honour Antoninus Pius for the consolidation of the Empire? This theory is strengthened by the fact that he was the governor of Asia Minor, with the headquarters in Ephesus, around 140 CE. Or was it erected mainly to celebrate the victory of Lucius Verus over the Parthians? He also spent much time at Ephesus, as it was one of his headquarters during the war.
The monument conveys several important messages. The first one is that the line of succession is secured for the Roman emperors, spanning three generations and thus ensuring political stability. The second message is about the foreign policy: the Roman Empire vanquishes all the enemies, no matter if they are the Parthians in the East or the Germans in the North. The personifications of the Empire's cities and provinces further supports this claim, by showing the support to the imperial activities.
The reliefs of the monument were found in several locations of the ancient Ephesus. In the Late Antiquity, some of them were used as the balustrade of a fountain, installed in front of the Celsus Library. This was the result of the rebuilding activity after an earthquake that destroyed the central hall of the library. The building was then abandoned, but its monumental façade was still-standing. It was turned into the background of a fountain. Other tablets of the monument were used as construction materials for different buildings, and others were utilised for the reparation of the roads.
The extant tablets and reliefs of the monument were discovered by the Austrian archaeologists during the first decade of their excavations at Ephesus. This is the reason that almost all discovered pieces are now in the Ephesos Museum in Vienna. The plaster casts of the reliefs discovered later, in the 1960s and 1970s, were added later.
Some original reliefs and copies are also displayed in the Ephesus Museum in Selçuk. In this venue, there are the copies of the adoption scene, the personification of the city in Asia Minor, and the battle scene (with small original pieces). The original reliefs in this museum depict the figure of the armoured soldier and the figures of Selene and Apollo Helios.
The Battle Scenes
The Roman Empire reached its greatest expansion in the second century CE, encompassing large parts of Europe, Asia Minor, and North Africa. It faced only two serious enemies abroad, against whome it fought a number of wars: the Germanic tribes settled along the Empire's northern borders marked by the Rhine and the Danube, and in the East the Parthians living across the Euphrates.
The battle depicted here shows the Romans triumphing over both these enemies. Arranged from left to right - the traditional direction denoting a victory - Roman Legionnaires are shown vanquishing foes sporting different traditional attires. The 'Phrygian Cap', a characteristic soft conical cap with the tip pulled forward, identifies its wearers as the Parthians; the fact that some of the warriors are nude suggests they are the members of a Germanic tribe.
In the 160s, Lucius Verus led a campaign againts the Parthians, during which the Emperor spent much time at Ephesus. The city actually served as one of the logistical headquarters of this campaign. This fact led some scholars to identify the famous monumental frieze as the structure commemorating the Roman victory in this war. This is the reason why this is now called the Parthian Monument.
Fragment 1: A wounded leader of the barbarians has collapsed on his horse
Fragments 7 and 8: A pair of horses, in front of them Mars (?), fragments 9 and 10: A roman soldier has raised his sword, closing in for the kill; a general is pushing an enemy to the ground
Fragments 11 and 12: Mounted Roman troop leaders vanquishing their enemies
The Adoption Scene
In the late 1st century CE, it was agreed that the Emperor should henceforth select and adopt duirng his lifetime the most suitable candidate to succeed him. On the 25th of February 138 CE, such a formal state ceremony was celebrated at Rome: Hadrian adopted his successors, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, i.e. the following generation of rulers.
The adoption is accompanied by sacrifices and ritual acts. The emperors' families and presumably high-ranking civil servants are in attendance and bulls are sacrificed. Sabina, Hadrian's deceased wife who had died in 136 CE, is also depicted. This is not a mistake but typical of Roman historical reliefs. The presence of deities and personifications helps to emphasise the message of the scene.
Hadrian died later that year, and Antoniunus Pius - meant to act as a placeholder for the two young princes - reigned until 161 CE. For the next eight years, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus governed as co-emperors, but following the latter's death Marcus Aurelius ruled alone until his own death in 180 CE. He was called the philosopher but it was he who abandoned the principle of the emperor adopting his successor(s) and installed his own son Commodus on the imperial throne.
Fragments 1 and 4: Women, men and children from the imperial families
Fragment 6: The four emperors: Marcus Aurelius, Antoninus Pius, Lucius Verus (behind him a sceptre) and Hadrian. The head on the right may depict the deceased biological father of Lucius Verus
Fragment 8: Attendants with the sacrificial bull
Fragment 10: Sabina, the wife of Hadrian and fragment 11: Faustina, the wife of Antoninus Pius (right)
One of the monument's relief cycles depicts not a single continuous scece but comprises a series of individual but similar tablets, each featuring two standing (mainly female) figures, their heads flanking an attribute, and below them a half-length figure that can be read as the personification of a river.
Each of these tablets represents a city or a province of the Roman Empire, and the concept is best explained with the help of the one depicting Rome: on the left, wearing the armour of a general, we see Mars, the city's first ancestor and parton deity; the female figure on the right is Roma. Their heads flank the Roman she-wolf (Lupa Romana) suckling the twins Romulus and Remus. The river god below personifies the Tiber.
There are, however, not many cities that can be identified as easily; one of them is Alexandria/Egypt, thanks to the female figure's characteristic corkscrew locks, fringed cloak with a tyet (an ancient Egyptian symbol called the knot of Isis or girdle of Isis), and the ibis in her hand.
The female figure clutching a vexillum (small flag) bears the arms of a city (cresent moon and star) but this is unfortunatelly recorded for a number of ancient municipalities in Asia Minor.
It is also impossible to name beyond doubt the city on the best-preserved tablet: grain basket and prow ornament clutched by the figure on the left may refer either to fertile Mesopotamia or grain-rich Sicily.
A series of coins issued by Emperor Antoninus Pius celebrate (on the reverse) the provinces of the Empire. Some are represented by characteristc figures but others are only named in inscriptions. The monument at Ephesus, too, presumably included the inscriptions identifying these personifications. These reliefs celebrate the Empire's leading cities and provinces that, with their local benefactors and sponsors, played a seminal role in the smooth running of the Roman Empire.
Fragment 1: Alexandria/Egypt
Fragment 4: City in Asia Minor (Carrhae, Edessa or Ephesus)
Fragment 6: Rome, Mars or Emperor, Roma, lupa Romana, Tiber
Fragment 9: Ctesiphon, Mesopotamia or Sicily
The Assembly of the Gods
A seminal element of Rome's identity was knowing that the gods protected and aided the emperors in their endeavours. Thanks to extant attributes and their characteristic poses, it is possible to identify some of the deities depicted here despite the fact that almost all surviving fragments are small.
By the second century CE, Near Eastern salvation cults like those of Mithras or Baal, but also Christianity, played an increasingly prominent role in popular religious beliefs. But at all officia stateevents and rituals worshipping the old 'Olympian' pantheon still reigned supreme, occupying a central, vital part in public life. This is why the assembly of the gods is shown attending the events depicted here, and they are also the intended recipents of the sacrifices depicted in the adoption scene.
Fragment 1: Athena (with Zeus and Hera?) and fragment 2: Victoria-Nike
Fragemnt 3: Amphitrite and Nepture-Poseidon
Fragment 5: Venus-Aphrodite and Kybele
Fragment 6: Demeter
Fragment 1: The Emperor
The Emperor is shown climbing a quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses and here driven by Victoria-Nike. In keeping with the traditions of the Roman historical reliefs, this one also proclaims the Emperor's victoriousness. All the protagonists depicted in this relief are 'numina', personifications or deities.
The ruler is preceded by Virtus, the personification of his valour and virtues. The prostate figure underneath the chariot is Tellus, the earth; the haloed male figure is generally identified as Phosphorus, the Morning Star.
Fragment 2: Deities
A similar composition depicts the divine siblings Apollo and Artemis riding their respective chariots; that of Apollo as the sun god (Helios) is drawn by panthers, that of Artemis-Selene is identified by the cresent moon behind her head.
The symmetrical composition of these two reliefs suggests the triumphant emperor was also juxtaposed with some other figure riding a chariot.
This monument was built in the end of the 1st century BCE in the center of Ephesus, directly in front of the Terrace Houses. In a square pedestal there is a burial chamber, above it rises an eight-sided stepped building and an equally octagonal chamber, which was surrounded by a Corinthian colonnade. A pyramidal roof and a marble ball completed the building. The fact that this grave was built within the city indicates a special position of the deceased.
In the sarcophagus the bones of a young woman were found. In connection with the time of the tomb, which due to the ornamentation in the third quarter of the 1st century BCE, it was suggested that this could be the tomb of Arsinoe IV, the Egyptian princess murdered in Ephesus at the instigation of her sister, the famous Cleopatra VII, around 40 BCE.
Scaenae frons from the theatre
Roman, late 1st/early 2nd century CE, Thasian Dolomite-Marble, from Ephesus Theatre. The scaenae frons is the elaborately decorated permanent architectural background of a Roman theatre stage. The form may have been intended to resemble the facades of imperial palaces. The Roman scaenae frons was used both as the backdrop to the stage and behind as the actors' dressing room.
Theatre fragments and a seat
The great theater of Ephesus is a splendidly preserved and very impressive building. This structure, built of marble, has a width of 145 meters, and its audience once reached up to 30 meters. In its heyday, it could accommodate up to 24,000 spectators.
The construction of the theater began in Hellenistic times. In Roman times, during the reign of Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD), the theater was enlarged. The two-storey stage (skene) was built during the reign of Emperor Nero (54-68 AD) and the third storey was added later, in the mid-2nd century. The completion of its construction took place only in the times of Emperor Trajan (98-117 AD). In the early 2nd century AD an aqueduct was constructed to bring water to Ephesus, for the Trajan nymphaeum. Its course required a channel through the upper section of seats.
The Ephesus theatre is important for scholars as an example of a Hellenistic building later transformed by the Roman architects. Some parts of the Hellenistic skene were later incorporated into the Roman-period construction. Their discovery shed some light on the style and shape of the earlier structure.
Base of a statue
Part of a larger donation by C. Vibius Salutaris. Caius Vibus Salutaris, an Ephesian member of the equestrian order, establishes a foundation in which images of the Roman emperors, the Roman people, and the Senate are prepared. Marble, 104 CE, original location: Theatre of Ephesus, on the south wall of the analemma. Actual Location: In-loco, and several fragments in the British Museum.
This extremely large inscription has been discovered in 5 square blocks, distributed across 6 columns, in a total of 568 lines. One block is lost. Interpunctuation is abundant and the 7 different documents of the dossier are visually separated on the stone. Letter forms are regular, with several lunate forms.
A benefaction given to the city by a Roman, C. Vibius Salutaris, in 103–104 CE. As part of his benefaction, which was commemorated in a 568–line long inscription at the city's theater, Salutaris funded a procession through the city every two weeks that began and ended at the temple of Artemis and passed by various monumental features of the city that evoked first its Roman, then Hellenistic, and ultimately its Ionian history. In other words,
The procession route recalled the city's foundation legends in reverse historical order: Rome, Lysimachos, Androklos, and Artemis. Rome's recent building activity and Lysimachos's Hellenistic refounding were confirmed and integrated into the city's history and identity. The heart of it, though, centered on Androklos and finally on Artemis, who provided the ultimate civic identity of Ephesus as a sacred community.
Battle of Riders
Found at the northern gate of the Arcadianne Street, Hellenistic period, around 166 BCE. This relief shows a fight between the Ionian Greeks and the Galatians, where the victory for the Greeks is emerging. The best preserved scene to the right of a field sign (signum) shows an armored Greek rider whose horse jumps over a fallen Galatianr, and left a Galatian on foot, who tries to cover himself with the shield against the attack of the Greeks, in front of a headlong horse tumbling towards the Galatians.
Already in the early 3rd century BCE, the Celtic Galatians invaded Asia Minor; in the following centuries there were repetitive conflicts with Pergamon and the Romans. The cavalry relief probably refers to the last Pergamean-Galatian War in the years 168 - 166 BCE, in which Eumenes II, King of Pergamon, finally won a brilliant victory over the Galatians. In honor of the savior from the constant Galatian threat, Ephesus - like Miletus, Sardis and Pergamon - probably erected a monument to Eumenes, and the relief could belong to such.
Hera of Ephesus
Roman, 2nd century CE, after a model from the 1st quarter of the 4th century BCE, Aphrodisian marble, Ephesus (?). None of the surviving copies of this statue includes a head. The figure is identified as Hera because of similarities beteeen her and Hera Borghese, whose identification, however, has also been questioned. Stylistic details and the fact that most of the replicas were found in Asia Minor suggest that the type known as Hera of Ephesus can be attributed to the Ionian art.
The statue was acquired in 1835 at Chania (Crete) by Anton Ritter von Laurin, the Austrian Counsul General in Alexandria (Egypt). A Greek dealer is said to have transported the statue from Ephesus. Lauria offered it to Prince Metternich, the protector of the Academy in Vienna, who gifted it to the Academy in 1838.
Four virtues from the Celsus Library
The statues adorning the façade of the Library of Celsus represent the Four Virtues or the Hellenic cultural values of Celsus: Sophia (Wisdom), Arete (Bravery), Episteme (Knowledge), and Ennoia (Thought). Originally, all these statues were made of bronze but they were, most possibly, melted down after the fire of the library in the 3rd century.
Sometime afterwards, they were replaced with female marble statues, evidently acquired from ruined buildings in Ephesus. Unfortunately, the statues that can be seen in Ephesus are just the modern-day copies as the originals are in the Ephesus Museum in Vienna.
Sophia from Ephesus
Sophia (Wisdom), Roman copy, 1st half of the 2nd century CE, after a Hellenistic model, made of marble, found in Ephesus, in the debris in front of the Library of Celsus.
This robed statue of a Greek goddess of the type known as the Hellenistic Hera Campana was repurposed by adding and inscription on the plinth: the Greek words (SOPHIA KELSOU) identify her as the personification of the Wisdom of Celsus, the library's patron. Traces on the plinth, however, show that a bronze statue had originally occupied the place. When the library's façade was restored in late antiquity, it was replaced by an extant, fitting marble statue.
Arete from Ephesus
Arete (Competence or Bravery), Torso - late Hellenistic, 1st century BCE, inserted head - Roman, 2nd century CE, made of marble, found in Ephesus, in the debris in front of the Library of Celsus.
This Hellenistic female statue was repurposed as the personification of competence (Lat. virtus), one of the most cherished character traits of a Roman citizen. Note the luxurious rendering complete with delicate robe and serpent bracelet typical of an honourary statue. The separately-made and then inserted head was adapted from an Antonine portrait.
Ennoia from Ephesus
Ennoia (Inspiration or Thought), Roman copy, 2nd century CE, after a Hellenistic model, made of marble, found in Ephesus, in the debris in front of the Library of Celsus.
The torso of a female statue of a type popular for the goddess Ceres. It is possible to reconstruct the attribute in her raised right hand: she once held an ear of corn or a torch. The statue was repurposed for a personification of the Inspiration. The inscription on the plinth is the only one of the four statues not incised but painted. Surprisingly, the second line of the inscription explains that it was to represent the virtue of otherwise anonymous Philippus, not Celsus. The scholars speculate that this statue was to honour the person in charge of administering the donation to restore the façade of the library and who had the inspiration to undertake it.
Episteme from Ephesus
Episteme (Understanding or Knowledge), Roman, Antonine period, 2nd century CE, made of marble, found in Ephesus, in the debris in front of the Library of Celsus.
It is a Roman portrait statue type with an artfully draped robe that was originally pulled over the head. It was repurposed as a personification of Celsus' Episteme (EPISTEME KELSOU), i.e. the understanding based on the knowledge obtained from the books in the library.
Celsus Library: segment gable
In a prominent position at the end of the Embolos (Curetes Street), one of the main streets of ancient Ephesus, rises the facade of the library of Celsus. The construction of brick walls with an extremely rich, two-storey marble façade was completed after 117 CE. The façade of the library is one of the highlights of Asia Minor Roman architecture. The intricately entangled aedicules and, in particular, the extremely rich and high-quality décor were barely reached thereafter.
The exhibited fragments come from the segment gable to the left of the center. The head of the Medusa stands in the middle as an evil symbol, next to it a finely chased tendril runs over the gable field. The facade of the library was integrated into a fountain construction in late antiquity and seems to have stood upright for several centuries. In the 70s of the 20th century it was erected again and since then represents almost a symbol of the archaeological site of Ephesus and the Roman remains in Turkey.
Bald man head
Late antique, 5th or 6th century CE, made of marble, found in the theatre of Ephesus. This impressive, larger-than-life sized portrait of an elderly balding man with a thick horseshoe-shaped fringe of hair presumably comes from a late antique honorary statue or bust, which was probably originally dispayed in the theatre of Ephesus.
The aim of the artist was not a realistic rendering of the sitter's features but to depict certain characteristics that denote his higher rank. We find comparable images on the mosaics decorating the choir of San Vitale in Ravenna in Italy (before 547 CE) that show Emperor Justinian, his court, and Bishop Maximian.
Portrait of a youth
Late antique, Constantinian, 1st quarter of the 4th century CE, made of marble, found on Theatre Street of Ephesus. This portrait of a young man was originally part of a bust or statue; the edge along the neck suggests a collar of a cloak; his short, cap-like hair frames his forehead and forms a small 'roll' at the back of the neck. The youth sports a thin beard comprising long sideburns, a small moustache, and a goatee.
The likeness has much in common with the earliest portraits of Constantine the Great minted on coins, especially regarding hairstyle, beard, and profile. Technical details of, for example, the hair at the back of the head, the mouth, and the lower part of his face suggest the portrait was later reworked.
Roman, 2nd century CE, made of marble, found in the theatre of Ephesus. The pose of this fragmented dark-grey marble statue identifies it as a canonical depiction of the Ancient Egyptian deity Serapis. His raised left hand once held a sceptre, his right hand rested on the head of Cerberus, the hound that guards the gates of the Underworld, of which only fragments have survived.
There are several places where coarse chisel work is visible - for instance the armrests of the throne. These traces mean that the statue was never completed. The veneration of Serapis was introduced during the Hellenistic period and spread throughout the ancient world.
Central part of a sundial
Roman, 2nd-3rd century CE, calcite marble, Ephesus. The Romans adopted the Greek sundials, and the first record of a sundial in Rome is 293 BCE according to Pliny. A comic character in a play by Plautus complained about his day being "chopped into pieces" by the ubiquitous sundials. Writing around 25 BCE, Vitruvius listed all the known types of dials in Book IX of his De Architectura, together with their Greek inventors.
Foot of a statue
Roman, 1st-2nd century CE, made of marble, found in Ephesus. A left foot on a plinth is all that has survived of a larger-than-life sized male statue. Supported by a wedge, the extant raised tip of his toe belonged to the free leg; note the lacing and the two claws of a lion skin-boot (mulleus), similar to those worn by mythological figures and generals. This tells us that the foot belonged to a cuirassed statue.
Torso of a cuirassed statue
Roman, Antonine, mid-2nd century CE, made of marble, found in Ephesus. These two pieces of a larger-than-life sized armoured statue probably belong with the fragment of a torso that is now in the British Museum in London. This muscle armour is decorated with the Gorgoneion (head of Medusa) and two confronted griffins. The head originally inserted into the statue has not survived.
We may assume that this is a portrait of an emperor from the Antonine dynasty, possibly Lucius Verus. The fragments now in Vienna depict the knotted cingulum, i.e. a leather belt worn as a sign of rank by a soldier or officer, and the lower part of the cuirass with its typical tongue-shaped and lamellar fringed leather lappets (pteryges).
Portrait of a woman
Roman, Antonine, after 160 CE, made of marble, found in the theatre of Ephesus. The polished main areas of this exquisite portrait of a young woman with delicate features and full lips, her head slightly turned to the right, have retained their shimmering surface. On her head the carefully chiselled strands of hair have been brushed back and put up in a bun at the back of the neck in the style of Faustina the Younger, with some of the side locks enlivened by drilling.
The delicate marble was damaged when the statue broke and its head was severed. Some parts of the face including the forehead and the surmounting hais as well as the bun are lost.
Portrait of an Agonothetes
Roman, Flavian-Trajanic, late 1st century CE, made of marble, found in the theatre of Ephesus. This weatherworn portrait of a bearded man belonged to a bust. He sports a full head of short, wavy hair, its individual strands carefully chiselled, and wears a bust-crown comprising the remnants of twelve busts. We can no longer make out the details but they may have depicted the members of the imperial family, deified emperors, and gods.
The crown identifies the wearer as an agonothetes, a function assumed by wealthy Roman benefactors for the common good. As judge and master-of-ceremonies of the festivals held in connection with the games (agones) he had commissioned, he was honoured with statues and busts set up at the venues where these public entertainments were held, e.g. in gymnasiums and theatres.
Pan with the infant Dionysos
Roman, 2nd century CE, made of marble, found in Ephesus. Of all the gods, Pan was most closely linked to Dionysus. The god of wine and feasting, Dionysus represented a release from the constraints of society's rules and order. As a wild god who loved music and sex, Pan was a natural companion for the god of parties.
Roman copy, 1st-2nd century CE, after a Greek original from the 2nd half of the 4th century BCE, made of marble, found in front of the theatre of Ephesus. The torso's attire allows us to identify it as a depiction of Dionysos, the god of wine: he wears the nebris, i.e. the skin of a deer, slung over his shoulder. Fragments of his cascading locks have also survived on his chest.
Like many Roman works, the figure copies the pose of a Greek statue but alters its content or identification: here, a statue by the Greek sculptor Praxiteles of a satyr pouring a drink has been turned into a depiction of Dionysos.
Roman, 2nd century CE, after a Greek original from the 5th century BCE, made of marble, found in the theatre of Ephesus. This statuette is a Roman marble copy of a bronze original by the celebrated Greek sculptor Polycleitus.
The Diadumenos is also mentioned in ancient written sources, among them Pliny; it describes a youth, presumably an athlete, tying a diadem, a ribbon band that identified the winner of a contest, around his head. Countless repetitions in various sizes and materials attest to the statue's popularity and the high esteem in which Roman society held Greek art.
Fragment of a building block with religious inscription
Greek, the 4th century BCE, made of marble, repurposed for the walls of the Harbour Gymnasium. This fragment of a marble block was originally part of an inscription of which other fragments have been recovered from various locations in Ephesus. We do not know where they were originally installed.
The text contains the laws and rules of a sanctuary. This fragment deals with a witness statement that demands taking an oath on Zeus. The inscription is divided into vertical columns and written in such a way that all letters are aligned both vertically and horizontally.
Baby boy with an Egyptian goose
Roman, 2nd century CE, after a Greek original from the 3rd century BCE, made of marble, found in the Marble Hall of the Harbour Gymnasium. This remarkably realistic statue was reassembled from countless fragments: a child seated on the floor looks up at an imaginary counterpart and stretches out his right arm. Unthinkingly he leans on his pet bird, identified by its featers as a small Egyptian goose.
Ancient written sources record a much-admired bronze group of a boy with a goose in the sanctuary of Asclepius on the Greek island of Kos. It was attributed to the sculptor Boethus of Chalcedon and may have served as the model for this marble group found in Ephesus.
Heracles battling a centaur
Hellenistic or Roman, made of bronze, found in the Marble Hall of the Harbour Gymnasium. Depictions of heroic battles were popular throughout classical antiquity, but the motif of Heracles grabbing the hoof of a centaur is unusual.
The circular opening at the top of the gnarled tree trunk shown that it functioned as a luxurious candelabrum. However, we do not know for certain that the tree was part of the original composition because both the group's original plinth and some other pieces are lost. They were replaced following the group's discovery in he late 19th century.
Head of a satyr playing a pipe
Roman, 2nd century CE, after a Greek model from the 4th century BCE, made of marble, found in the propylaea of the Harbour Gymnasium in Ephesus. The head is that of a young satyr, a composite creature with the body of a man and goat legs. The satyr is playing a pipe, pieces of which are discernible on his pursed lips. The surface of this fragmented head is dull and discoloured in some places; the artefact was presumably damaged in the fire that also destroyed the propylaea, the entrance to the Harbour Gymnasium.
Together with the satyr's head, the archaeologists found fragments of his hands clutching the pipe, and a foot on a plinth. This statue of a pipe-playing satyr was presumably informed by a Greek model that was frequently copied during the Roman Empire.
Head of Poseidon and its plaster cast
Roman, 2nd century CE, made of marble, found in the theatre of Ephesus. In 1897, this head of Poseidon was found in the theatre, his body had been discovered thirty years earlier by British archaeologists and it is now in London. By producing and exchanging plaster casts, the scholars were able to prove that these two fragments belong together. The God of the Sea with trident and dolphins is a repetition of a well-known motif whose model may be be the Greek sculptor Lysippus.
Young boy with grapes
Torso of a statuette, Roman, mid-2nd century CE, made of marble, found on Curetes Street (Embolos), near the Octagon. On a circular, ancient base sits a young boy clutching a bunch of grapes with both hands. The head is missing but we know from similar statuettes that he is enjoying some of the fruit.
Depictions of young children were first introduced in Hellenistic art. As his head is missing, we do not know if this is a portrayal of Dionysus as a child. Grapes also functioned as symbolic motifs in funerary works.
Capital of a lamp stand and a lamp with five nozzles
Roman, 1st century CE, made of bronze, found in the the Marble Hall of the Harbour Gymnasium in Ephesus. This elaborately decorated bronze capital was assembled from sixteen separately cast pieces; note also the traces of silver inlays. The double bust depicts Hercules sporting a veil while Omphale has donned his lion's skin, an image based on a myth that recounts how the hero had to exchange his martial attributes with the Lydian queen, receiving her distaff in return.
The fact that the relief appliques featuring the recumbent Hercules being waited on by two cupids, and the Harekliskoi (Hercules' youths) growing from sepals were found near the capital suggests that they may have belonged together, but of this we have no certain proof. The lamp with five nozzles was reconstructed from extant fragments (missing pieces were replaced). Comparable objects recovered from the cities buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, however, suggest that the Romans used larger-than-life sized column candelabra.