Cooking in Ephesos: a diachronic perspective

Cooking is one of the oldest and most important human technologies. Due to the rich array of contexts, find assemblages, and excellent state of scholarship, the ancient city of Ephesos is an ideal candidate for an interdisciplinary diachronic analysis of the topic that will cover a wide time frame from the Archaic to the Byzantine period.

The project is based on the assumption that cooking is not a static cultural component but instead is continually changing and is subject to a combination of tradition, innovation, and influences.

Material culture of cooking

While organic materials and metal vessels are only rarely preserved, the large number of ceramic vessels used for cooking are the most important evidence for ancient cooking practices. The definition and precise typological classification as well as the diachronic development of the cooking wares used in Ephesos form the basis for further interpretations. Vessels made of other materials and utensils that were used in the cooking process (e.g. hand-mills, skewers, portable ovens) will also be included.


Questions regarding the consumption and trade but also tradition and adaptation of cooking and eating habits will be analyzed through the archaeometric identification of the clay compositions used for cooking vessels and the distinction between local-regional products and imports. The functional interpretation of the vessels and possible secondary modifications as well as the specific mechanical and thermal properties of cooking vessels will provide information about ancient cooking practices.

Topography of Cooking

In the course of the project the topography of cooking in Ephesos will be treated: where were the technical facilities for cooking in Ephesos such as hearths and actual kitchens? Where and when did portable equipment, such as the mobile oven, appear? How can we assess the diachronic development of the cooking process in terms of its organization?

Cooking wares in context

Furthermore, specific Ephesian find assemblages will be selected under the aspect »Function and Interpretation of Cooking Wares in Context« for a comparative analysis, for example cooking wares from kitchens and storage rooms, cooking wares from private households, cooking wares in public contexts, and cooking wares from ritual contexts.


The proposed project is closely connected with the bioarchaeological research focus in Ephesos and through the projected residue analyses it is a good addition to a project on eating patterns in the Ephesian population.