Austrian archaeologists have rewritten the history of Ephesus

(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers from the Austrian Academy of Sciences discovered in the ancient city, famous as the site of one of the seven wonders of the world, the area of ​​the early Byzantine period.

It was preserved intact under a layer of ash, much like Pompeii and Herculaneum. Although no local Vesuvius was observed nearby.

Ephesus is known to our contemporaries mainly as the place where one of the seven wonders of the world, the Temple of Artemis, was located.

But for many centuries the city played an important role in regional politics.

A settlement on the site of Ephesus existed under the Hittites, but the city itself was most likely built around the 10th-11th centuries BC by Ionian colonists.

In ancient times, Ephesus was mainly under Persian rule, against which it rebelled from time to time – in alliance, for example, with Athens.

In 334, after the Battle of the Granicus , the city came under the control of Alexander the Great, and later one of his diadochi, Lysimachus, began to rule it.

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General view of the excavations

Strabo wrote that Ephesus in the Roman Empire was second only to Rome itself. Later, already in the Byzantine period, the city remained a major commercial and cultural center.

The Temple of Artemis, of course, was destroyed, the material of its walls went, among other things, to the construction of the Hagia Sophia under Emperor Justinian I.

It is known that some kind of catastrophe occurred in the city around 614 AD. It was destroyed and abandoned for a while.

Historians assumed that Ephesus was destroyed by an earthquake, but there was no archaeological evidence of the event.

During excavations in Ephesus this year, archaeologists from the Austrian Academy of Sciences discovered a beautifully preserved early Byzantine quarter.

All household items in the rooms were preserved because they were “sealed” with a thick layer of ash.

This makes the find comparable to the archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum – the same instant “snapshots” of everyday life.

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Ceramics perfectly preserved

This quarter is located on Domitian Square, directly adjacent to the political center of the Roman city – the Upper Agora.

Archaeologists even earlier suggested that a large Roman complex in late Antiquity was built up with shops and workshops.

However, now that this layer has been dug up, everyone was surprised by the degree of preservation of the items.

The researchers found a huge amount of dishes, including whole bowls with the remains of seafood, such as cockles or oysters, or amphorae filled with salted mackerel.

Also, pits from peaches and olives, charred peas and almonds were removed from the soil. In addition, they found four gold coins (solids) and several chests with more than 700 copper coins.

There is also a completely unique find – 600 small ceramic vessels that Christian pilgrims – pilgrims – wore around their necks.

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The vessel that the pilgrims wore around their necks looks like it was made yesterday

According to Austrian scientists, the excavated premises are a kitchen where food was prepared for sale, a pantry, a tabern (a small shop where food products and ready-made food were sold), a lamp and souvenir shop for Christian pilgrims, as well as a workshop with an attached trading room.

Judging by these rooms and the finds of chests with coins, archaeologists have unearthed a business and tourist-gastronomic quarter.

Archaeologists were very surprised that the destruction was not at all similar to the consequences of an earthquake.

“Archaeological evidence suggests massive destruction by fire that must have been sudden, dramatic and life-changing,” said Sabine Ladstätter, head of the excavation.

Was it an earthquake? There are no signs. The walls didn’t move, the floors didn’t rise.

And let’s add the strangest thing (which fundamentally distinguishes Ephesus from Pompeii) – human remains were also not found. However, the researchers found several arrowheads and spears that indicate a military conflict.

Ladstetter suggested that the decline of Ephesus in the 7th century, long known to archaeologists, was associated with another round of wars between Byzantium and the Sassanid Empire, which went on with varying success in 602-628.


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