papers written for the catalogue [Ephesos - The Protection Building - Prof. W. Ziesel]
articles for the review Arhitectura
articles for the Magazine for Arts and Civil Society in Central Europe

Hillside Building II

by HM, translated from german by Diana Marian

Why make a covering exactly in this place? Because it happened that houses which lasted for 500 - 800 years long (from the time of the Roman province to the time of Constantius II and later) have been unusually well preserved under a soil stratum. The wealth of their late owners make them a special archaeological find today. Hillside building II is practically a sole exemplar for archaeology, equivalent to the finds in Ostia, Rome or the Vesuvian cities. The houses are partly preserved up to the upper floors and are a unique example of urban housing in the Eastern Roman Empire. Architecture, interior decorations and artistic preferences can be reconstituted. Also, conclusions on habits and ways of life can be drawn.

Wall painting and mosaics, which ornate to a great extent the walls and floors are particularly important for the cultural historical research because they fill a void in the monument inventory of the Eastern Mediterranean realm between the 2nd and the 4th century AD. Typical Peristyl yards that are to be found in the Greek and Roman realms form the house inventory. Therefore, introverted buildings ordered around an atrium seamed with pillars are almost completely closed to the exterior. They are situated on a slope towards the Curetes Street, that procession path that leads through the two big hills of Ephesus, uniting the lower harbour area of the Tetragonos Agora with the upper governmental sector of the late Hellenistic time. The Curetes Street is an avenue in itself - seamed with honorary monuments , gates and graves. Also, the houses of the hillside building II were inhabited by important characters of Ephesus like Furius Aptus, the leader of the Olympics in Ephesus. The preserved frescos represent scenes from classic play-writing like comedies by Menander and tragedies by Euripide, mythological scenes, the nine muses, a portrait of Socrates and other well-known philosophers. Opulent glass mosaics with mythical representations picture a rarity in the archaeology of the region.

This variety, once brought to light, is put under the risk of disappearance faster than it would have been had it remained buried. Hillside building II forwarded for a few years (starting with 1967, the year of the first excavations) one of the greatest problems of archaeology, that of conserving the finds without keeping them isolated from specialists and tourists (through new burying, for example).

A quick solution to this problem was made possible by the movement of the Institute of Archaeology and the Society of the Friends of Ephesus. The State Ministry was made aware of these goals through sponsorship by private persons and archaeologists. In the last few years, they were able to begin to solve the problems of the hillside building together.