Terrace House 2 in Ephesos. The residential units 3 and 5. Building contexts, furnishings, finds

Following the publication of 10 monographs on the Terrace House 2 in the series »Forschungen in Ephesos« the volume on the residential units 3 and 5 is currently being completed. Traces of construction are interesting for the urban history because they indicate that the area was used by craftsmen starting in the early Hellenistic period. The Roman houses are marked not only by exquisite mosaic floors but also by high-quality furniture. Only very few remains suggest a use following the destruction of the 3rd century CE. The area appears to have been largely abandoned until a row of mills was constructed on top of the imperial period buildings.

Built and rebuilt

Constructed in the early imperial period, the house originally covered the entire middle half of the terrace and was later divided in half with two separate entrances. This led to the creation of interesting floor plans, such as the long corridor leading from the stepped alley 3 into the courtyard of the residential unit 5. Numerous in situ elements are evidence of the original rich furnishings of the lower and upper story as are many objects that lead to new conclusions about the lived environment of Ephesos during the Roman imperial period. 

Residential unit 3

The residential unit 3 is the smallest of the Terrace House 2 with 260 m2 but it is characterized by exquisite mosaic decorations as well as sumptuously furnished rooms. The entrance was located in the west but it was completely destroyed by construction measures of the Byzantine period. The now restored ›Room of the Muses‹ deserves special attention with its eponymous wall decor showing the nine muses, the poet Sappho, and the god Apollo Musagetes. A certain contradiction is marked by the simple brick floors, the marble bases suggest that the room was divided by column pairs or the installation of stately vessels. 

Residential unit 5

The rooms of the equally small residential unit 5 are grouped around a carefully furnished courtyard where an attractive fountain ensemble must be pointed out. In the north a formal dining room as well as a heated room adjoin while the rooms to the west of the courtyard must be addressed as small cubicula. A structurally interesting detail are the traces of a wooden staircase leading to the upper floor that are clearly visible in the wall painting of the so-called room of the erotes. The eponymous wall decoration features flying erotes that – relating to the entering guest – are playing musical instruments, bringing gifts, or lighting the room with torches. 

Outstanding mosaic decoration

The wealth of mosaics in the residential unit 3 is surprising and features four rooms with figural images. Two emblems inserted into ornamental mosaics have been preserved; they show the bust of the god Dionysus and Medusa. Contrasted by the color and material of the mosaic stones, the thyrsus staff and diadem expertly stand out from the body parts of the god. A mosaic from the mid-2nd century CE must be understood as a detail from an amphitheater scene and shows a lion with a bleeding bull’s head between his paws.