Paleogeographic Research at Ephesos

Scenario of the formation of the delta of the Küçük Menderes since the Neolithic period
Scenario of the formation of the delta of the Küçük Menderes since the Neolithic period

Geoarcheological research at Ephesos is carried out as a cooperative project between the OeAI and the University of Cologne. More than 200 bores have been drilled to date, in order to investigate the spatio-temporal alteration of the coastline, the history of vegetation, the harbours and potential harbour sites, as well as human influence on the landscape, over the past 8 millennia. Up until the Chalcolithic period, the sea moved approximately 20 km inland, whereby the gulf of Ephesos was formed in the western region of the rift of the Küçük Menderes. Since that time, the continuous forming of the delta of the Küçük Menderes (the ancient river Kaystros) and its tributaries have ensured the almost complete silting up of the bay. The permanent displacement of the coastline towards the west led to new foundations of settlements, harbours and anchoring berths.


The current results prove an intensive usage of the Roman harbour and of the harbour canal from the 2nd century B.C. up until the 7th century A.D. In the canal, which was laid out at the latest in the 1st century A.D., it has been possible to identify eggs of the intestinal parasite Trichuris sp. and roundworms, indicating intense anthropogenic influence.


The natural vegetation is characterised over millennia by deciduous oaks, although cereal pollens indicate cultivation already in the 6th century B.C. The cultivation of the olive becomes significant after the 1st century B.C. The drastic decline in pollen concentration at the same time as the appearance of vulcanic glass was determined by the eruption of the Santorini volcano in ca. 1630 B.C. (Minoan eruption). This is the first time that tephra from Thera has been attested in the region of Ephesos.


Friederike Stock