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Library of Celsus, Ephesus

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Library of Celsus, Ephesus The Library of Celsus is a Roman mausoleum and library created in the early 2nd century AD. As one of the most beautifully reassembled buildings in Ephesus, it has become an icon of the ancient metropolis. History

The Library of Celsus was comissioned by the Consul Julius Aquila as a mausoleum for his father, Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, Roman governor of the Asian Provinces. It may be that Celsus was awarded daring honors, which would furthur rationalise the expense.

The monument was constructed between 110 and 135 AD, after which Celsus was smothered in a niche on the right side of the back wall. With a few 100’s of years of its manufacturing a fire demolished the studying room and the library fell into disuse. Around four hundred AD, the courtyard below the exterior steps was changed into a pool. The fakeness collapsed in an earthquake in the tenth hundred years.

The Library of Celsus was increased from the rubble to its present outstanding state by F. Hueber of the Austrian Historical Institute between the early 70’s and 1978. What to See Located next to the south gate, the Library of Celsus is 21m wide and over 16m high with a 2.4m-deep portico.

The mausoleum-library originally had three stories, with galleries in the upper two stories. Scrolls and codexes were stored in the niches, dispensed by a librarian. In total, 30 bookcases held about 12,000 scrolls. The reading room faced east in order to take advantage of the best light.

The lower niches of the facade contain four statues, which are through to represent Wisdom, Knowledge, Destiny, and Intelligence. These are replicas of the originals that are now in Vienna. Latin and Greek inscriptions can be seen amongst the ruins of the library

Slope Houses, Ephesus

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Behind the outlets on the south side of Curetes Street near the Library of Celsus are magnificent private houses, known as the Slope Houses for their position on the slants of Mt. Coressus (Bulbuldag). Occupied from the 1st century to in 7th place century AD, the Slope Houses have been likened to the first century villas of Pompeii in relevance.

The Slope Houses are also known as the Terrace Houses and Hanghausen (in German, because the archaeologists are Austrian).


The Slope Houses were used from the 1st century to 7th century AD, and then were abandoned. Around this time, after the devastating Arab raids and the continuing silting up of the harbor, the outstanding population of Ephesus moved to Ayasuluk hill (near the Basilica of St. John).

After being abandoned, the Slope Houses slowly and gradually fell into decay. However, a number of them were filled with soil from landslips, which preserved them and their material.

The houses at Ephesus are not unfavorable to those found at Pompeii and Herculaneum in terms of availability and magnitude. Their decor and home furnishings provide a great deal of information about the life-style of the Ephesian higher class in the Roman and Byzantine periods of time.

What to See

The Slope Houses are still being excavated and are from time to time covered by a tent, but are usually open to the public. They can be reached by a flight of steep steps from Curetes Street. The ruins have been divided by archaeologists into Slope House one (south) and Slope House two (north, closer to the Library). Each house had three stories, running water, heating, and an atrium with an appearance on to the side street.

In Slope House one, room A1 has a fine black-and-white mosaic. Room A2, the atrium, has a pebble floor with the continues as of a fountain in the centre. The walls of rooms A10 and A11 are designed with frescoes.

The most entertaining room in this house, nevertheless, is A3, dubbed the “theater room” based on the theatrical subjects of its frescoes. One of the owners of the house may well have overseen theater performances in Ephesus for a living. The right-hand wall has a scene from Menander’s comedy, Perikeiromene (“The Girl Who Gets her Hair Cut”), and the left wall bears a scenario from Euripides’ Orestes.

The room also contains a fine fresco of the mythological battle between Hercules and the river god Achelous for the hand of Deianeira. The shape-shifting Achelous assumed the form of a dragon and of a bull during the struggle, and only established defeat when Hercules tore off one of his horns.

Slope House two is bigger than its neighbor. Built in the first century AD, it was altered and extended several times before being abandoned in the 6th century. Many of its rooms feature mosaics and frescoes. Rooms B9 and B10 have frescoes of the muses. The house has two atria, the larger of which has several fine Corinthian columns lining a lobby paved with a wonderful mosaic of a triton and sea-nymph.

The most interesting room in Slope House 2 is the atrium, because of a beautiful and unusual fifth-century glass mosaic in a niche. The niche is flanked by a decorating fresco of erotes promoting a garland. Inside the niche is a fragile glass mosaic of the heads of Dionysus and Ariadne against a background of luxuriant foliage and an array of glittering animals and birds. As the light adjustments, the glass tiles sparkle and glow, making the figures in the mosaic appear to move. The late date indicates the owners were likely Christians, making the pagan topic interesting.

Some of the major finds within the Slope Houses can be see in the Ephesus Museum, rooms one and three.

Prytaneion, Ephesus