Lower Ephesus

The geography of Ephesus is a means of separating the upper classes from the rest. Simply walk up the hill to find where the upper classes lived. Much of the reconstruction of Ephesus is concentrated here. The lower levels have not been explored much. I walked through the Tetragonos Agora (featured photo, looking at the southern hills). It originated from the 3rd century BCE, was made into its present shape during the reign of Augustus (early 1st century CE), new elements were added over centuries until an earthquake in the 4th century CE brought down everything. The subsequent rebuilding brought in elements from different parts of the city.

Above the eastern end is the Marble Way. I walked into galleries under it and saw beautiful excavated pieces stored there (one example above). I guess these galleries are now being used by archaeologists as temporary storage while the tremendous jigsaw puzzle of Ephesus is reassembled. Nero had founded a court in this spot in the middle of the 1st century CE. I wondered whether the rooms date from that time.

The lower part of Ephesus, as we see it today, is shaped by two streets. The Arcadian Way (photo above) runs from the Great Theater westwards to the port. The road is named after the 5th century Byzantine emperor Arkadios during whose reign it was given its present shape. The other is the Marble Way which runs above the Agora to the east, between the Celsus library and the Great Theater. Nero’s court of justice stood here before the earthquake, so the road probably dates from after the 4th century.

The Great Theater is one of the few structures being reconstructed in the lower part of Ephesus. It was first constructed at about the same time as the Tetragonos Agora, ie, in the 3rd century CE. It was rebuilt many times until it was the second largest theater in the Roman empire. The stage would have been backed by a two-storey structure called the Skene, which has not yet been reconstructed. One of the remarkable things that you can see in the photo is two women in bell bottomed pants. When did they become fashionable again?

On my way back I took the Marble Way above the Agora. The Family had noticed interesting graffiti along this road, which we wanted to photograph. Now we noticed that the stone has been worn away in places by wheels of chariots. The road that we, and other tourists, took was used in the Byzantine era by wheeled traffic. On one side of the road we noticed a colonnaded sidewalk for the use of ancient walkers. This part has not been restored.

There is a low wall on the side of the road which overlooks the Agora. Part of the wall just consists of old pieces of sculptured stone piled up. We looked at the pieces. Some of them look like they served as the capitals of pillars. Could they be the remnants of Nero’s court? Or were they found in many places, and merely been piled here while people search for the part of the jigsaw into which they will fit?