Terrace Houses in Ephesus

ephesus terrace houses
Inside Ephesus Terrace Houses

Terrace houses were the luxury apartment building of people who were propertied class in Ephesus, established on terraces on the slopes of Mount Bulbul. The houses were built in peristyle, adjacent to each other, each consisting of two flats. Some of these houses dates to the 1st century B.C. from the finds made during excavations. After restorations and repairs the some houses were built after the earthquakes in the 2nd century and 3th century A.D., the houses were two-storey, were inhabited until the end of 4th century A.D. and some continued to be inhabited until 7th century A.D.

The entrances to Terrace houses were from narrow paths with stairs. The first residence we enter for visiting is the residence No.6 and it is the biggest one which was found. There was an inner court in the middle of the houses, which was surrounded by columns in a peristyle and this court constituted the center of these houses. There was a covered gallery area with mosaic floors around this court and all rooms were lined around this area, with the doors opened onto this gallery. The rooms were the dining room, the bedroom, the guest room, the bath, the toilet, the kitchen and the room for servants. Many rooms were centrally heated by he hypocaust system ( underfloor heating ) and heating system was also installed on the second floors. Inside the walls or under the ground were the baked clay pipes heating the air inside the houses. The residents owned both cold and hot water, separate, which proves the fact that they had amazing facilities. We can not see the second floors now as they were collapsed.

As the rooms had no windows, it was only open air courtyard to get the light. They also gain the water from these open-air courtyards. Each court has a good hole to collect the rain water. There is still water in the good hole of sixth Terrace House. Also, the sewage pipes under the stairs were connected to the main pipes in Cruces Street.

restoration work ephesus terrace houses
Restoration work at Ephesus Terrace Houses

Of the most important room No1. is the theater room, with its walls decorated with the depictions from the tragedies of Euripides. There is a mythological scene ( the fight between Hercules and Achilles ) in front of an architectural adornment on the upper side of the northern wall. The main of dwelling No.2 is the Rhodian nine column peristyle court. In one of the rooms of this residence, there is a beautiful glass mosaic which depicts Dionysus and Medusa. The pedestal mosaic in this residence is a mythological sea creature which depicts a Nereid mounting a seahorse of Triton as a mythological sea figure.

In one residence, the portraits on the Wall of the inner court, depicting the renowned philosophers of the period, are very important for the history of art. Depictions of Socrates and the Muse Urania are displayed in Archaeological Ephesus Museum. Some of the rooms at particular dwellings hold key regarding their prominent features like the Theatre Room having the frescoes of some theatre scenes or Marble Hall which was a huge dining room greatly ornamented by a variety of marble types. Ceilings and upper floors were generally damaged, mosaics on the ground and frescoes on the walls are to be repaired.

The Terrace Houses’s excavation was started in the 1960s which partially still carry on in order to make it representable for the visitors. Some of the findings of Terrace Houses are presented at Archaeological Museum of Ephesus today.