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Ephesus :: Terrace Houses

Terrace Houses

Houses on the slopes behind Ephesus are to be seen opposite the Temple of Hadrian. Those on the upper slopes are reached via steps. They are situated on the slopes of Bulbul Mountain, with the roof of one house forming the terrace of that above it. They were inhabited by wealthy Ephesians, and are finely decorated with mosaics and frescos. Built in the period of Augustus, they were much altered and continued to be inhabited until the 7th century AD., according to the evidence of excavations. Two of the insulae houses have been totally restored and are now open to the public.

Peristyle House I: This two-storeyed house covers an area of 900 m2. It is a 12-roomed house entered via a flight of steps leading down to a hall (A1 ), to the right of which is another flight of stairs, flanked by a facet and basin, which leads to the other rooms of the house. A2 is reached via a passageway. It is the courtyard, with four doric columns in the corners and paved in marble. The remains of a fountain can be seen in the northern corner of the court. Beyond this are the halls A10-11, which have mosaic floors and frescos decorating the walls. The house dates from the 1st century AD, but these two rooms were added in 400 AD. One of these rooms is flanked bya staircase leading up to the upper floor of the house, and beyond that is another chamber decorated with frescos and with a mosaic floor (B7).East of the peristyle courtyard is a hall with walls 4 m. in height. Situated next to the entrance, this room is decorated with fresco scenes from the plays of Euripides-namely 'Orestes', to the left and the comedies of Menander to the right, namely 'Sikyonioi'. It is known as the theatre room because of these frescos. The other walls are decorated with figures, namely the combat of Acheloos, the river god, with Herakles to the left. The frescos in this room, which also has a mosaic floor, must date to the 2nd century AD. The house also possesses a bathroom, to the south of the entrance hall (A.8), with the kitchen flanking it (A.12). Next to this are various small chambers opening onto the flanking street, and the service entrance. Artefacts found during the course of excavation are displayed in situ.

Peristyle House II: This is beyond the first house. It possesses two peristyles and is larger than the other houses on the insula. First built in the Ist century AD., it underwent various restorations up to the 7th century. The main peristyle (B1 ), which possesses columns dating to the 5th century in the Corinthian order,flanks to the south, a long gallery covered from end to end in black and white geometric mosaics. Opposite this is a second gallery containing mosaics of Triton and Nereide. Triton bears in his left hand, the spear of his father Poseidon, while holding the reigns of the sea horse bearing Nereide in his right hand. These figures are placed before the vaulted open niche (B.6). The latter is paved with black and white marble in a basketwork pattern. Frescos on the walls include the heads of Dionysus and Ariadne framed by medallions, surrounded by trees, peacocks, ducks and cockerels. These mosaics are dated to the 5th century AD., and are in extremely good condition. The vaults are framed to both sides by a fresco frieze depicting Eros figures bearing a garland. Other rooms of various sizes to the east of the house are paved with black and white mosaic patterns and embellished with frescos of birds and floral patterns. The walls of two other rooms (B9 and 10) are decorated with fresco panels of muses, dating to the 4th century.

B11-12 is the dining hall. Niches set into the southern wall mark the wash-basins. They contain frescos which were restored in monochrome at a much later period. The kitchen is on the western corner of the house, and is decorated with frescos of fish and birds. The second peristyle (B14) fianks this hall.


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