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Slope Houses, Ephesus

Photo © Aschwin Prein. View all images in our Slope Houses Photo Gallery.
Photo © Aschwin Prein.
Photo © Viskom.
Photo © New Guide to Ephesus.
Photo © New Guide to Ephesus.
Photo © New Guide to Ephesus.
Photo © New Guide to Ephesus.

Behind the shops on the south side of Curetes Street near the Library of Celsus are luxurious private houses, known as the Slope Houses for their location on the slopes of Mt. Coressus (Bulbuldag). Occupied from the 1st century to 7th century AD, the Slope Houses have been compared to the 1st century villas of Pompeii in importance.

The Slope Houses are also known as the Terrace Houses and Hanghausen (in German, because the archaeologists are Austrian).

History

The Slope Houses were used from the 1st century to 7th century AD, and then were abandoned. Around this time, after the devastating Arab raids and the continued silting up of the harbor, the remaining inhabitants of Ephesus moved to Ayasuluk hill (near the Basilica of St. John).

After being abandoned, the Slope Houses gradually fell into decay. However, a number of them were filled with soil from landslips, which preserved them and their contents.

The houses at Ephesus are not inferior to those found at Pompeii and Herculaneum in terms of preservation and importance. Their decor and furnishings provide a great deal of information about the lifestyle of the Ephesian upper class in the Roman and Byzantine periods.

What to See

The Slope Houses are still being excavated and are sometimes covered by a tent, but are usually open to the public. They can be reached by a flight of steep steps from Curetes Street. The ruins have been divided by archaeologists into Slope House 1 (south) and Slope House 2 (north, closer to the Library). Each house had three stories, running water, heating, and an atrium with an entrance onto the side street.

In Slope House 1, room A1 has a fine black-and-white mosaic. Room A2, the atrium, has a marble floor with the remains of a fountain in the center. The walls of rooms A10 and A11 are decorated with frescoes.

The most interesting room in this house, though, is A3, dubbed the "theater room" based on the theatrical subjects of its frescoes. One of the owners of the house may well have overseen theater performances in Ephesus for a living. The right-hand wall has a scene from Menander's comedy, Perikeiromene ("The Girl Who Gets her Hair Cut"), and the left wall bears a scene from Euripides' Orestes.

The room also contains a fine fresco of the mythological battle between Hercules and the river god Achelous for the hand of Deianeira. The shape-shifting Achelous assumed the form of a dragon and of a bull during the struggle, and only accepted defeat when Hercules tore off one of his horns.


Slope House 2 is larger than its neighbor. Built in the 1st century AD, it was altered and extended several times before being abandoned in the 6th century. Many of its rooms feature mosaics and frescoes. Rooms B9 and B10 have frescoes of the muses. The house has two atria, the larger of which has several fine Corinthian columns lining a passageway paved with a beautiful mosaic of a triton and sea-nymph.

The most interesting room in Slope House 2 is the atrium, because of a beautiful and unusual 5th-century glass mosaic in a niche. The niche is flanked by a decorative fresco of erotes supporting a garland. Inside the niche is a delicate glass mosaic of the heads of Dionysus and Ariadne against a background of luxuriant foliage and an array of glittering animals and birds. As the light changes, the glass tiles sparkle and glow, making the figures in the mosaic appear to move. The late date indicates the owners were likely Christians, making the pagan subject interesting.

Some of the major finds from the Slope Houses can be see in the Ephesus Museum, rooms 1 and 3.

Quick Facts on Slope Houses

Site Information
Names:Slope Houses; Slope Houses, Ephesus; Terrace Houses
City:Ephesus
Country:Turkey
Categories:Ancient Cities
Faiths:Secular
Styles:Roman
Dates:1st-7th C
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Ephesus, Turkey
Coordinates:37.938144° N, 27.341151° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Slope Houses

Below is a location map and aerial view of Slope Houses. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.

References

  1. Bernard McDonagh, Blue Guide Turkey 3rd ed. (2001), 224-25.
  2. The New Guide to Ephesus, 104-113.
  3. Hillside Houses - Kusadasi.biz

More Information

Article Info

Title:Slope Houses, Ephesus
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:07/18/2009
Permalink:www.sacred-destinations.com/turkey/ephesus-slope-houses
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/turkey/ephesus-slope-houses">Slope Houses, Ephesus</a>