Terrace Houses

Terrace Houses
The Terrace Houses in Ephesus, Turkey 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 Terrace 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 equal, if not superior, 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.

There is a research and restoration effort on the "Terrace House" that is at the corner of two streets, near the library. This house structure is very large, incorporating several families' living spaces. This tour is an optional and additional cost to the entry to Ephesus, so our group was able to see it relatively undisturbed. The entire site is covered by a structure of panels, allowing diffuse lighting and helping to control the heat of the sun.

The public walkways over the site are supported by glass panels so that the visitors can see the mosiacs underfoot. This is a little freaky when climbing to the upper levels, as the walkways cross open spaces where rooms have no roofs and there's a large gap to the floor below.

Fabulous exhibit, easily one of the highlights of our trip. Just opened around 2000; extra fee, but well worth it. They roofed over this set of luxury dwellings (dubbed Terrace House 2 by the archaeologists) and built stairways and glass-bottomed walkways that lead visitors on an Escheresque path through the ruins.

In the archaic period (7th to 6th century BCE), this flanking hillside was used as a cemetery. In Hellenistic times (c. 200 BCE), it was extensively terraced and also saw less-structured development. In the Roman period, it was the high-rent district. This complex, built in early Roman Imperial times (c. 20 CE), was a luxury 4000-square-meter (43,000-square-foot) insula (multifamily dwelling) consisting of 7 two-storey townhouses.

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