The material culture of Ephesos in the 7th century CE

The 7th century CE is a period of upheaval that in Ephesos can be studied as a result of a considerable number of find assemblages. In particularly the late antique-medieval city quarter south of the Church of Mary permits insights into the material culture of the 7th century because it was abruptly abandoned following its destruction by fire. 

Topography and find assemblages


The 7th century has been documented through numerous find contexts in Ephesos. With the exception of the so-called Tomb of St. Luke with its special status as a pilgrimage site, the urban area beyond the Upper Agora was largely abandoned during the period in question. The Curetes Street and the Terrace House 2 were part of a suburban workshop district in the 7th century; the city center was located in the northwest of the Roman city. Find assemblages of the 7th century are located in the theater, the Vedius Gymnasium, the so-called Byzantine Palace, and the Church of Mary. A particularly important late antique-medieval city quarter is located to the south of the Church of Mary that was destroyed by fire in the second half of the century and was abandon in haste. Furniture, everyday objects, and sumptuous furnishings were left behind and provide unique insights into the material culture of the 7th century CE.

The material culture


The contextual analysis of all find groups makes it possible to create a comprehensive and possibly for all of Ephesos model reconstruction of daily life of the elite in the 7th century. The assemblage of fine ware and glass vessels but also the amphorae, cooking wares, and coarse wares used in the late antique-medieval city quarter are evidence of eating and drinking habits, cooking habits but also trade activities and consumption practices of a possibly aristocratic Ephesian family. Furthermore, certain find assemblages deserve particular attention because they permit conclusions about the function of the individual rooms. To date around 5,000 coins have been recovered but other finds also include magnificent furnishings such as a sword originally mounted on the wall, jewelry, accessories of garments, and Christian pilgrimage souvenirs, such as a so-called pilgrim flask and a token from the Promised Land.

Outlook and objectives


The scientific analysis of the material culture of the 7th century of Ephesos is taking place as a team (pottery: A. Waldner, glass: L. Schintlmeister, costume and jewelry: A. M. Pülz, tools and equipment: E. Baudouin, coins: N. Schindel/IKAnt). The aim of the project is to refine the chronology of the urban history and the cause for the destruction horizons in the 7th century and to reconstruct daily life in Ephesos at the time. At the same time the contextual analysis of the find assemblages provides an opportunity to determine room function but also to narrow down the duration of individual genres and forms.