Slope Houses, Ephesus

Ephesus houses
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These well-preserved dwellings provide an important window into the lifestyles of the Ephesian elite in Roman and Byzantine times.

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Slope Houses

Ephesus, Turkey
37.938144° N, 27.341151° E
Date Published
October 8, 2013
Last Updated
April 12, 2015

Description of the Slope Houses

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.

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.

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

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.

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

Slope House 2 is larger than its neighbor. Built in the 1st century CE, 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 h

The Slope Houses were used from the 1st century to 7th century, 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.