The palaeogeographies of Ephesos (Turkey), its harbours, and the Artemision – a geoarchaeological reconstruction for the timespan 1500 – 300 BC, Frederik Stock
Abstract. This geoarchaeological study deals with the coastline evolution around Ephesos (Western Turkey), as well as the related settlements and harbours from 1500 until 300 BC. It focuses on the vicinity of the Artemision (sanctuary of Artemis) site, with special regard to the sacred precinct (temenos) of the main sanctuary of the city. The results give new insights into (i) the farthest inland extension of the Holocene marine transgression, (ii) the sedimentation rates during the Holocene, and (iii) potential harbour sites adjacent to the Artemision. Vibracores up to a depth of 17 m were analyzed using geochemical and sedimentological as well as micro- and macrofaunal methods. In the area of the (later) Artemision the maximum marine transgression dates to the beginning of the 5th millennium BC. At that time, the sea had transgressed at least 18 km inland up to Belevi. The sedimentation rate was very low (0.4 mm/yr) until the 1st millennium BC; by the end of the 1st millennium AD it had accelerated, at times by up to a factor of ten. This was due to human impact, mainly deforestation, and resulted in a delta advance of the Derbent and Selinus rivers. The first temple of Artemis was built in the 7th century BC with a much smaller size and simpler ground plan than the subsequent large marble temples, the construction of which started in the 6th and 4th centuries BC, respectively. By then, the area of the Artemision had silted up, and the coastline had shifted to the north and west of the temple.
Ancient authors mention two harbours at Ephesos in pre-Hellenistic times: the Koressian harbour and the ‘sacred harbour’.
The latter was most probably located in a small embayment between the Artemision and Ayasoluk hill 150 m to the north of the 6th century BC temple of Artemis. It silted up during the following two centuries and had completely disappeared by around 300 BC. We therefore presume that during the 5th to 4th centuries BC the Koressian harbour, located in a marine embayment on the northern side of Panayırdağ, gradually took over the function of the main harbour of Ephesos.