Ceramic evidence on the building history of the lower Embolos in Ephesos

The contextual analysis of ceramic find contexts from the excavations that were conducted in the area of the lower Embolos (Curetes Street) resulted in a new understanding of about one thousand years of use (3rd century BCE – 7th century CE). They relate to the design and the route of the street, the building history of the construction along its edge and its varied function.


The Embolos is located in the saddle between the two Ephesian hills, the Panayırdağ in the north and the Bülbüldağ in the south. The modern term »Curetes Street« is derived from the column drums originally from the Prytaneion that were reused in the lower north colonnade and are covered with lists of the cult association of the Curetes. The ancient name for the Curetes Street appears to have been »Embolos« – literally »wedge, ram« as is mentioned in the literary sources but also in the inscriptions discovered in the area of the Curetes Street and the Tetragonos Agora.

Processional way

Starting in the 3rd century BCE the lower Embolos consisted of a gravel road that was delimited by a curb in the first half of the 1st century BCE. Also, the dating and building history of the individual monuments, fountains, and tabernae along its southern edge was refined. Of especial interest is the chronological secure classification of the ›Heroon‹ and the ›Octagon‹ which have been controversially dated. 

Main street

Very few new results were achieved on the development of the Embolos in the imperial period and its first paving with marble stones, likewise it was not possible to associate the contexts and find assemblages with various destructions – for example the earthquakes in the 3rd and 4th century. 

Pompous boulevard

Substantial information was gained on the design of the Embolos in the late antique-early Byzantine period. Starting in the mid-5th to the mid-6th century a veritable construction boom has been attested; it tits in to the general phenomenon of an ostentatious display of a renewed prosperity and splendor of the city of Ephesos in this period. Particularly noteworthy in this context is the transformation of already existing but partially destroyed buildings on the lower Embolos into monumental fountains as well as the construction of the so-called Curetes colonnade in the late 5th/early 6th century CE. 

Craftsman quarter

As deduced from corresponding find contexts, it appears that the older monuments mainly adapted in late antiquity on the lower Embolos were maintained until the 7th century CE. The final use of the areas bordering the Embolos consists in the activity of the tabernae and workshops.