The excavations in Ephesos in western Turkey are the largest Austrian research enterprise abroad. The OeAI has been conducting archaeological excavations in the area of the ancient city since 1895 and in 2015 the ancient city of Ephesos also became a UNESCO world heritage site.

A long-term project like Ephesos offers the opportunity to conduct basic archaeological research and develop methods at one of the most prominent sites of the Mediterranean. The object of research is a city with its environs that was continuously inhabited from the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages and frequently was the regional center.

The excavations in Ephesos are considered to be a platform for interdisciplinary basic research in archaeology. Today, modern and to a large part non-destructive methods such as surveys and geophysical survey methods are employed for fieldwork and only precise, usually small scale excavations are carried out. An increasingly important aspect of the work of the OeAI is represented by monument preservation and monitoring of the ancient monuments.

The permanent excavation team of the OeAI consists of archaeologists as well as researchers of complementary disciplines. In addition to the archaeological subfields numerous other disciplines are also employed in Ephesos: Ancient history, archaeometry, building archaeology, structural analyses, art history, bioarchaeology, biochemistry, botany, Byzantine studies, epigraphy, conservation and restoration, genetics, geodesy, geography, geology, geophysics, metallurgy, microbiology, numismatics, palynology, petrography, seismology, sociology, turkology, zoology. Annually on average 150 scientific members from up to 25 nations and 35 local staff are employed on site and make Ephesos into a large archaeological enterprise.

The excavations in Ephesos have a highly productive role in the international research landscape that is reflected by a high degree of internationality, in great appeal for renowned research institutions, a wide-ranging acceptance within the scientific community and strong reception. The excavations in Ephesos are conducted in collaboration with national and international research institutions and on the basis of an annually renewed permit by the antiquities authorities of the Republic of Turkey.