In this part of our Ephesus Tours with the director of the Excavations we study about the Curetes Street and Heracles Gate...
While the city itself has a rectangular grid system, The Curetes Street follows the nature, the slopes and the hillsides.
And because of its holyness they could not change the system although they tried to build the rectangular grid system.
Curetes street was also the major conjuction between the Harbour area and the Upper City of Ephesus.
A lot of fruits from the harbour were carried from the Harbour to the Upper Agora and then to the hinterland of Ephesus and the cities of Magnesia and Metropolis which are the next cities in the hinterland.
Ephesus was the major port in the Eastern Mediterranean after Alexandria. On the other hand a lot of agricultural goods came from the hinterland of Ephesus, it is a very fertile land in here. Asia was the richest province of the Roman Empire and the most important agricultural products wine, olives, grains and also marble. We have a lot of marble in here, white marble in the area of Ephesus. Exported marble... And now with the analysis of white marble is starting in the archaeological record and research, before we just did analysis on the polychrome -coloured- marbles but now they are starting to do this oln white marble as well. And now they found out that especially in Rome a lot of Ephesian marble was used. It was not known before because it's just white.
But nevertheless, the Curetes Street was also the main street in Ephesus untill the late 1st century AD, In the reign of Domitian in the late 1st century AD, the Street got its marble pavement, and from that moment it was not possible to carry goods from the Harbour up to the Upper Agora because we are in a very rainy region and from November to MAy we have a lot of rain. so the Curetes Street became more and more representative part of the City while the goods were carried from the surrounding backstreets.
Especially in the late antiquity the Curete Street was the most representative part of the city and the holes on both nort and the southern parts were built, orginally the street was much broader, in the late antiquity they brought a lot of columns to built the Stoa and in between the columns they based the Statues, just to give it a representative appereance. Because if you take a closer look nearly every column has a different size, different material, different tecnique. So they just collected from everywhere because a lot of parts of the city were destroyed so they took them and just made a new arrangement here in the city center of Ephesus.
And there's also a really funny phenomenon aboutthe bases and the Statues... because the base and the Statue do not belong to each other. so they just took bases, they took statues and sometimes they also took the heads, it is now in the museum where the Base, the Statue and the Head originally didn't belong to each other.
It is thought that it was very typical to late antiquity people, to recycle, to collect , to use the older material but also to show the glory of the past of the City.
Was there anything behind the columns?
Yes, the columns created a Stoa, and behind the Stoa there were shops. Alot of tabernen, and we made some excavation in here and we have indication of Smithees, we found kitchens, public kitchens we found small restaurants.
Another thing I have to add here is this So called Hercales Gate, when the gate was built in the early 5th Century AD, no chariots could pass, so the Curetes Street became really a pedestrian street, this is very important for the fact that in the former times (roman times), the Artemis procession took through the Curetes Street, and in the Temple of Artemis, they took the Cult Statue of Artemis, (It was a Wooden Statue), and they gave a garment to the statue, and they put the Statue on a chariot wagon then carry the chariot through the city. So this Heracles gate is really a Christian Symbol for the end of the Artemis Procession and for the victory of Christianity here in Ephesus.
to be continued.... :)