The results of the ancient Building History (R. Heinz) is in print and the archaeological and art historical research (P. Ruggendorfer) has being published in autumn 2016.

Project leader:F. Krinzinger

Researcher: R. Heinz (building research), P. Ruggendorfer (archaeology), M. Trapichler (pottery)

Contact:P. Ruggendorfer

The Mausoleum of Belevi is the best preserved monumental tomb from the early Hellenistic period. The monument lies in the eastern part of the Kaystros-valley about 14km to the northeast of Ephesus. It was examined in the years from 1931 to 1935 by J. Keil, C. Praschniker and M. Theuer. The results were published together with the post-examinations carried out by W. Alzinger and R. Fleischer in the sixth volume of the ‘Forschungen in Ephesos’ in 1979.

In 2000, the Institute for the Study of Ancient Culture resumed the research on the mausoleum, whereby the archaeological work was financed by the ÖAW and the building research by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) The goals of the project are the concluding on-site archaeological and building historical examinations, the revision and reappraisal of the art-historical and architectural features and the subsequent publication of the results.

The field research was organized in close cooperation with the Austrian Archaeological Institute (ÖAI);  Opel Türkiye Ltd. provided vehicles during the campaigns without cost. 

The core of the mausoleum was cut directly out of the solid limestone of a mountain spur. To the east of the tomb a terrace was created which was bordered by a massive wall and during the building activities was used as a work area and later probably for festivities in the course of the death cult. The Doric lower level with a three-stepped base is erected on an almost quadratic ground area with a side length of ca. 29,69m. In a height of about 10m it was topped by an entablature consisting of a wall architrave, a frieze with metopes and triglyphs and a cornice. The roughly smoothed surface of the rock core was encased with marble blocks, which on the outside created the impression of a massive layered pedestal. 

On the south side, the burial chamber was worked into the rock core; it cannot be seen from the outside. The monumental sarcophagus with a reclining male, formerly crowned figure on the lid (presently in the Museum of Selçuk) was situated on the right wall of the main chamber. The life-sized statue of a Persian-dressed servant (presently in the Museum of Izmir) was formerly standing in front of the northern wall of the chamber. All parts of the statuary inventory of the burial chamber date to the time of erection of the monument. 

In the upper level the rectangular core was surrounded by a columned hall. The primary façade to the north was especially emphasized by a bathron and a second row of columns. Of the pedestal especially parts of the northern wall on the upper side are preserved in situ. The Ionian columns of the peristasis were situated on Attic bases and had Corinthian capitals, which were painted with various colors – just as a large part of the architecture. In the central fields of the coffered ceiling of the columned hall were relief images depicting athletic and equestrian agons on the north side and a centauromachy on the other sides. During the current excavations, the hitherto missing relief block S3 that had been situated in the intercolumniation above the burial chamber could for the most part be recovered on the southern side of the monument.    

The decoration of the roof consisted of statues of life-sized horses at the corners and Persian lion-griffins antithetically grouped around burial vases on the sides. The reconstruction of the upper level that was worked out in the 1930ies and the 1970ies was at first strongly influenced by the conception of the Maussolleion of Halicarnassus. Because of the missing architectural evidence for a pyramid roof, already in 1935 a hypethral solution with inner courtyard was developed as an alternative for the core building. This could now be verified through the current research.

The pottery found during the excavations on the western side as well as the building ornaments dates the erection of the mausoleum into the early 3rd century BC. Apparently the building activities were completed very quickly so that parts of the architecture resp. the sculpture as well as the open area to the east was not finished. Clues pointing to a second building phase that had been assumed for the middle of the 3rd century BC could not be detected.

The archaeological and architectural work was accompanied by natural scientific examinations, such as materials analyses of the Hellenistic backfilling mortar (J. Weber, Institute for Art and Technology, University of Applied Arts Vienna), of which large remains were found in the hollow space between the rock core and the marble revetments of the pedestal. In addition, an extensive sampling of the used marble and of the stone quarries relevant for the exploitation (W. Prochaska, Institute for Applied Geosciences and Geophysics, University of Leoben) was carried out and with different petrographic and geochemical methods the provenance of the used stones could be clarified. 

The on-site examinations were completed in 2006.