Founded on a long tradition of research and a plethora of diverse sources, the lower Caystros Valley, with the metropolis of Ephesos, offers exceptional preconditions for an extensive analysis of the material culture of a micro-region and its chronological and spatial contextualisation.

Physiographic conditions that in the case of the Caystros Valley are defined both by processes of long duration, such as the progression of rivers and coastal displacement, as well as by isolated events such as earthquakes and tsunamis, are crucial for human settlement activity. Such conditions formed and transformed the character of the settlement, on the one hand constituting the foundation for the development of one of the largest cities of antiquity, while on the other hand being partially responsible for its downfall. In a synergy of all available geographical, (bio-) archaeological and historical data, a cultural geography of the wider area of Ephesos, as well as its implications for human actions from the Neolithic period up to the modern era, should be produced.

Due to a rich archaeological and historical basis of sources, the functioning of an ancient metropolis can be analysed at Ephesos better than at almost any other site. The spectrum of investigative themes extends from resource management to city planning, logistics and infrastructure, monumental building programmes and unstable housing conditions, up to legal, demographic and socio-historical components. Many of these aspects can be traced over a long period of time, so that the rise of Ephesos into an urban mega-centre, yet also its transformation into the Ottoman period, can be observed. Traditional methods of archaeology and ancient history, building research, archaeometry and heritage sciences are interwoven in the treatment of these themes.

Ephesos is an important site for religious history and was home to one of the most prominent sanctuaries, with the Artemision, and to numerous early Christian pilgrimage sites – amongst them the Basilica of St. John and the Cemetery of the Seven Sleepers, as well as the architecturally exceptional İsa Bey Mosque. Furthermore, the metropolis was an important early centre of philosophy, with its possibly most well-known protagonist, Heraclitus. An interdisciplinary analysis of Ephesos from the perspective of religious history, as a spiritual centre and taking into consideration archaeological, historical and theological sources, is a great desideratum, which should be approached by means of interdisciplinary projects.

The large amount of available data, moreover, also allows a reconstruction in the sense of a virtual cultural landscape. The history of vegetation of the lower Caystros Valley, the digital anastylosis of buildings, as well as the complete reconstruction of the settlement chamber belong to this topic. 


Martin Steskal