The research project is reconstructing the early settlement history of Ephesos. Interdisciplinary research has demonstrated how the shift of the coast has changed the settlement structure. An archaic-classical residential quarter was verified through excavations as well as a new terrace in the rock shrine of Meter with in-situ finds.

The unknown Ephesos

The aim of this project is to study the location, size, structure, and chronology of the settlement in the area of Ephesos through systematic archaeological and interdisciplinary methods from the late Bronze Age to the beginning of the Hellenistic period. The ruins visible today trace back to the re-foundation through king Lysimachus at the beginning of the 3rd century BCE. At the time the city already had a history spanning millennia. Very little is known about the city’s forerunner; only very few excerpts mention it in the ancient written sources. Archaeologically the late Bronze Age, early Iron Age, archaic, and classical settlement phases are difficult to explore: the corresponding levels and building remains are often covered by several meters of alluvial deposits, are located below the water level, or were covered by later structures.

The city follows its harbor

The landscape of Ephesos was subjected to massive geomorphological changes that greatly influenced the development of the settlement. The changes of the coast line were reconstructed in its individual stages through palaeogeographic corings by H. Brückner and F. Stock (University of Cologne). The progressive silting up of their harbors forced the Ephesians several times to search for new moorings where as a result new city quarters developed.

A city of scattered quarters

Since the early 7th century BCE new settlements developed along the coast. This form of scattered settlements can often be seen among early Greek poleis. Through the systematic mapping and analysis of older research results as well as through precise trenches in selected places it was possible to reconstruct the development of the settlement from the late Bronze Age to the early Hellenistic period.

Archaic-classical settlement on the north-eastern terrace of the Panayırdağ 

Parts of such a residential quarter were excavated along the north-eastern side of the Panayırdağ in 2008/2009. This naturally protected rock terrace was used from the early 7th century BCE. Around 400 BCE a fortification wall was built around the settlement and enclosed an area of about 9 ha. It is the oldest known fortification of Ephesos.

Principal Investigator


Helmut Brückner (Geographisches Institut, University of Cologne)


since 2009