The Austrian Archaeological Institute maintains a branch in Selçuk, which mainly serves as a research and infrastructure facility for the Ephesos excavation, the largest scientific enterprise in the Republic of Austria located abroad. Additional OeAI research undertakings in Turkey are also administratively and logistically coordinated from this branch office.
With the start of the Austrian excavations in Ephesos in 1895, the first building was constructed as a worksite, a find depot, and as accommodations for the team on an area specially purchased by the first excavation manager, Otto Benndorf, in the shadow of the Seljuk citadel of Ayasoluk. The facility has been gradually expanded over the years in order to meet the ever-increasing scientific and work-related requirements. Today it serves as accommodation for around 60 employees.
The branch office offers almost all the facilities and possibilities that are needed for the implementation of a large archaeological undertaking: in addition to areas for the processing and documentation of find material, laboratories for scientific analyses have been set up or expanded in recent years for restoration and conservation. A large archaeozoological reference collection, for example, enables animal bones to be processed on site. Find material can be properly stored in a multi-storey depot, with spatial proximity to the local museum.
An extensive reference library with literature on Ephesos, the archeology of Turkey, and the research of the Austrian Archaeological Institute is available to both excavation staff and researchers on site.
At the administrative level, the branch office works together with the Vienna headquarters as a direct contact for the Turkish authorities, who are responsible for carrying out archaeological and antiquity field research and museum work, as well as a direct contact for cooperating scientists from the state who are connected to the excavation.
The Ephesos branch also serves to disseminate archaeological research: events are organized together with local and regional partners. In addition to (popular) scientific evening lectures, seminars are held for local cultural mediators in order to present the latest results. Regular summer schools for Turkish and international students convey impressions of the scientific work with the Ephesian finds and discoveries. Multi-day, international conferences related to the excavation of Ephesos round out the list of activities.
In addition to all of these functions, the branch office also has a cultural and political function. Regular visits by Austrian, Turkish and international representatives from the fields of politics, business, art and culture impressively demonstrate the importance of the Ephesos World Heritage Site beyond its archeological aspect.