The first establishment of the antique City of Ephesus within the boundaries of Selçuk district of Izmir province dates back to 6000 BC, to the Neolithic age. During the researches and excavations, settlements from the Bronze Age and Hittite period were found in the tumuluses around Ephesus (pre-historic tumulus settlements) and on the Ayasuluk Hillwhere the castle stands. During the Hittite period the city was named as ‘Aphasas’. The harbour city Ephesus where also immigrants from Greece settled moved to the neighbourhood of the Artemis Temple in 560 BC. Ephesus which is being visited by many tourists today was founded by Lysimakhos, one of the generals of Alexander the Great in the year 300 BC. Ephesus which experienced its most glorious days during the Hellenisticand Roman Ages had a population of 200.000 as the capital and the biggest harbour city of the Asian province. Ephesus changed place during the Byzantine period again and moved to the Ayasuluk Hill in Selçuk where the antique city was originally found. Ayasuluk which was invaded by Turks in 1330 and became the centrum of Aydınoğulları started to get smaller and was given the name Selçuk after the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Today it is a touristic place with a population of 30.000 people.
The remains of Ephesus are situated in a large area since the city changed many places throughout its history. Many excavations, restorations and reorganizations have been carried out within the remains spread over an area of about 8 km², and it is open to tourist visit.
1- Ayasuluk Hill (The earliest settlement dating back to 3000 BC and the St. Jean Church an important Byzantine building for Christianity)
2- Artemision (An important religious centre between 9th and 4th centuries BC; Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World)
3- Ephesus (Archaic – Classic-Hellenistic-Rome and the settlement in the Byzantine period)
4- Selçuk (The settlement in Seljuk and Ottoman period and the modern town, including the antique settlement, as an important tourism centre)
Having been an important centre of civilization in the Antique Periods, Ephesus is one of the leading tourism centres today with an average 1.5 million visitors annually.
The first archaeological excavations in Ephesus were initiated by J. T. Wood on behalf of the British Museum in 1869. D. G. Hogarth continued Wood’s researches aiming at finding the famous Temple of Artemis as of 1904. Austrian excavations in Ephesus which are continuing today were initiated by Otto Benndorf in 1895. Excavations carried out by Austrian Archaeological Institute which were suspended due to 1st and 2nd World Wars resumed in 1954 and have continued without interruption. Besides researches of Austrian Archaeological Institute, The Ephesus Museum has also been carrying out excavations, restorations and reorganizations in the site in the name of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey since 1954. Thanks to the research over 100 years, on the one hand scientific results which have brought new dimensions to the Ephesus History and Anatolian archaeology have been obtained; on the other hand buildings and monuments unearthed during excavations have been restored and redesigned along with their environment.
Excavations carried out by The Ephesus Museum in recent years:
1- Çukuriçi Tumulus: It is located in the southwest of Magnesia gate. The remains found show that prehistoric settlements dating back to 4000 BC have been unearthed.
2- Ayasuluk Hill Excavations: Have been carried out in the southeast hillside of the castle. The findings show that the tumulus dates back to 3500 BC.
THE EPHESUS MUSEUM
The Ephesus Museum, which is responsible for archaeological research, reorganization, supervision and protection on behalf of the Ministry of Culture, is one of the most important museums in Turkey not only with the works from Ephesus and nearby places belonging toMycenaean, Archaic, Classic, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman periods, but also with cultural activities and capacity of visitors.
Having been found as a storehouse after the excavations in Ephesus in 1929 and expanded with an additional building in 1964, The Ephesus Museum was improved by means of changes in exhibitions and new additions.
Since The Ephesus Museum includes relics from a single antique city, the works are exhibited according to places where they were unearthed rather than a typical and chronological way of exhibition. To this end, exhibition halls are organized as Slope Houses and House Findings Room, The Section of Coins and Treasure, The Hall of The Funerary Relics, The Hall of Artemis, and The Hall of Imperial Cults. Besides these halls, many architectural works and sculptures are exhibited within the museum and the courtyards in harmonization with the garden decoration. Two Artemis sculptures, the bust of Eros, the statue of Eros with dolphin, the bust of Socrates are some of the worldwide known works exhibited in The Ephesus Museum.
The Ephesus Museum possesses about 50.000 works in its collections. The number increases every year thanks to the ongoing archaeological excavations and donations from the local and neighbouring communities. In order to present these works to the service of scientific world and humanity sooner, ‘The Hall of New Findings’ has been found within The Ephesus Museum. However, this hall is not always enough for exhibiting numerous numbers of works. So, the other halls within the museum are needed to be renovated in the light of new findings according to modern museological principles.
In accordance with this perception, groups of findings are being exhibited together after the last arrangements within The Hall of Slope Houses and House Findings so as to ensure the unity of theme. The hall includes many indispensable requirements in daily life from every century such as medical and cosmetic tools, jewels, weights, lighting tools; music and entertainment findings, examples to weaving tools; sculptures used in house cult and decoration, sculptures and busts of gods, goddesses and emperors, and furniture. One section within The Hall of Slope Houses is called ‘Socrates Room’ which is decorated with frescos, mosaics, and furniture as well as including dummies.
New sections of The Ephesus Museum open to visitors upon recent arrangements the museum, Ephesus and Selçuk:
1- Arasta and Bath House Section: Adjacent to the courtyard, this section, which is an integral part of the museum, exhibits commercial life in old Turkish towns, and various handicrafts that face extinction. This area can be found adjacent to the central garden of the museum. The department displays various stages of the cereal grinding process (mills), which played a significant part in agricultural local life as well as various types of copperware and beads produced to avert the evil eye. Within the section where Turkish tents are exhibited examples to old Turkish architecture and an Ottoman bath house dating back to 16th century are open to visitors.
2- Ayasuluk Library: An old Turkish building (14th century) in the back street of The Ephesus Museum was restored by the museum, and it was designed as a small library where the public could read books and daily newspapers.
3- The Museum for the Visually Impaired: In the Ephesus antique city, one of the restored shops in the lower Agora has been turned into a museum specific for the visually impaired. The museum consisting of two sections includes original and replica works of art.
Cultural and Educational Activities
Beyond its usual activities, The Ephesus Museum organizes cultural and educational activities for the public of the town and archaeological circles such as:
Conferences Regular conferences are organized in which mostly the archaeology of Ephesus and nearby places is discussed.
Modern works of art consisting of paintings, sculptures and various handicrafts are constantly exhibited in the arts gallery within The Ephesus Museum, which enables to build a bridge between antique and modern works of art, and also to convey a collection of modern works of art into the 21st century.
The Ephesus Museum organizes annual meetings in order to protect the ancient works and seminars to educate students on Ephesus and ancient civilizations. In addition, trainings and excavation assessment meetings are occasionally held by the Ministry of Culture for museum experts from all around Turkey.
Open every day; Summer: 08.00-19.00 Winter: 08.00-17.00