»Crossing the Sea« explores the social, cultural and economic connections between Asia Minor in present-day western Turkey and the western Aegean/Greece from Hellenistic to early Byzantine times (3rd cent. BCE–7th cent. CE). The most important source for reconstructing the contacts and connections and for researching possible trade routes are the finds of ancient ceramic vessels originating from Asia Minor and found in Athens.

Which products from Asia Minor were exported to Athens?

Wine and oil and probably other goods from Asia Minor were traded in amphorae, and cooking vessels and tableware were also imported from Asia Minor.  On the West Aegean side, the finds from the excavations at the Athenian Agora form the basis for the study; in Asia Minor, the ancient metropolis of Ephesos plays a decisive role as an important port city and capital of the Roman province of Asia. In addition, various other Asia Minor centres of ceramic production are considered, such as Phokaia, the most important, export-oriented manufacturer of cooking ware in the Roman imperial period and later on also of tableware (Late Roman C). Also popular with the Athenians are Asia Minor tableware vessels such as Eastern Sigillata B and C as well as Late Roman C ware. It will be determined which Asia Minor regions supplied their products to Athens and to what extent, and what role Ephesos played in the export of products from Asia Minor.

How did the products come to Athens?

Building on this, it will be investigated whether and how the relations changed over time and which cultural, political and economic reasons underlie the (trade) links between the two regions. Another research question deals with how the goods came from Asia Minor to Athens. Was there always a direct route between Ephesos and Athens or did the trade take place via several ports and stations? Or are they in some cases even to be understood as individual souvenirs or as indications of the identity of the user(s)?


All these questions will be investigated using archaeological methods, scientific (archaeometric) analyses and statistical surveys. The ceramic finds from Asia Minor - primarily amphorae, fine wares and kitchen wares - in the find material from selected excavations at the Athenian Agora will be identified, classified, analysed and quantified. Based on this and combined with the findings from other archaeological sources (e. g. marble finds) and historical sources, the overarching scientific questions can be answered.