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My Favourite Planet > English > Middle East > Turkey > Ephesus > photo gallery
Ephesus, Turkey Ephesus photo gallery 1 6 of 62

The Inscriptions Museum on the west side of the Upper Agora, Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

The Inscriptions Museum on the west side of the Upper Agora, Ephesus.
The Upper "State" Agora

Part 3: The Inscriptions Museum

The Inscriptions Museum is on the west side of the Upper Agora, housed in a row of vaults that were part of the substructure of the Temple of Domitian (see below). Over 3000 complete and fragmentary inscriptions have been collected here, and a selection of around 60 are exhibited.

However, like the Museum for the Visually Impaired, it is usually closed and the most interesting inscriptions locked behind metal gates. There is no notice to inform visitors how they can gain access to the collection. Several fragments of inscriptions stand or lie in and around the vaults without labelling, but most provide little of interest to the general visitor.

Most visitors spend an hour or two at the archaeological site, and there are so many things to see that enigmatic dedications and public announcements on stone are usually not on their top ten lists. Although some inscriptions have beautiful lettering or historical significance, most are not easy to decipher even if you can read ancient Greek or Latin. They often include baffling abbreviations and refer to apparently obscure people with long Roman names. Even the specialists, archaeologists and epigraphists who spend years studying and debating the content, meaning and significance of such inscriptions, find it difficult to make sense of such puzzling proclamations.

Many of the approximately 6000 inscriptions discovered at Ephesus provide clues about the lives of kings, emperors and other prominent people, as well as the history of specific buildings, religious and civic institutions, laws, practices, cult festivals and rituals. One inscription here, for example deals with the death penalty for sacrilege (late 4th century BC), while others concern the rights of citizenship during the Hellenistic period and imperial letters. Most are honorific dedications to rulers and local dignitaries, including the Sophist Titus Flavius Damianus, a wealthy Ephesian citizen who funded several public buildings in the 2nd century AD.

Those wishing to visit the Inscriptions Museum should contact the management of the archaeological site before visiting Ephesus. It may be that access is only allowed to academics by appointment.

There are plenty of other inscriptions to see around the site and in the Ephesus Archaeological Museum in Selçuk. Information about some of the inscriptions in Ephesus can be seen on these pages:

A collection of inscribed statue bases near the upper entrance to the site;

An inscription from the "Fountain" on the road to the Magnesian Gate;

Inscriptions at the Library of Celsus;

Inscriptions at the Gate of Mazeus and Mithridates

A fragment of a Greek inscription in the Inscriptions Museum, Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

A fragment of a Greek inscription on the ground in the Inscriptions Museum.
photos and articles:
© David John

See also:


the nearby town

galleries index

Selcuk photo gallery 1 - town of Selcuk, Turkey

gallery 1
around town

Selcuk photo gallery 2 - Ephesus Archaeological Museum, Turkey

gallery 2

Selcuk photo gallery 3 - Serbian folk dancers in Selcuk, Turkey

gallery 3
Serbian dancers
visit Selçuk

The vaults of the Inscriptions Museum below the Temple of Domitian, Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

The vaults of the Inscriptions Museum, which were part of the substructure of the Temple of Domitian.

Domitian (reigned 81-96 AD) was the first emperor to grant Ephesus the status of Neokoros, the official centre for the imperial cult in Asia Minor (Ephesus was Neokoros four times), and the temple was the cult's focus. Very little of the building has survived. Fragments of the 5 metre tall statue of Domitian which stood in front of it are now in the Ephesus Archaeological Museum, Selçuk.

See the note about neokoroi on gallery page 21.

Inside one of the vaults of the Inscriptions Museum, Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

Inside one of the vaults of the Inscriptions Museum.

Inscriptions behind bars at the Inscriptions Museum, Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

Inscriptions behind bars.
Photos, articles and map: © David John,
except where otherwise specified.

Additional photos: © Konstanze Gundudis

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have been attributed where applicable.

Please do not use these photos or articles without permission.

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Higher resolution versions are available on request.

Some of the information and photos in this guide to Ephesus
originally appeared in 2004 on
See also
The Cheshire Cat Blog
photo essays about Turkey:

Istanbul Essentials part 1

Istanbul Essentials part 2

Istanbul Essentials part 3
with video

Ionian Spring part 1

Ionian Spring part 2

Ionian Spring part 3
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