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Ephesus Commercial Agora

Ephesus Commercial Agora

The commercial agora, also known as the lower agora, measures 111 square meters. It is located in the çenter of the city, which connects directly with the harbor. Besides the Gate of Mazaeus and Mithridates (the south gate), the agora also has a vvestern gate, and a further gate north of the theater.

The west gate, in the Ionic order, was very impressive. The general outline of the agora dates back to the refoundation of the city in Hellenistic times, in the third century BCE. It was renovated during the reign of Caracalla (211-217 CE), and came back into use again during the Byzantine period.

Except for the northem side, rows of vaults containing shops lined the agora. Colonnades or stoas, each with two rows of Corinthian columns, stood in front of these shops. These would protect shoppers from both sun and rain, and people would meet there for conversation. The main items for sale vvere objects of bronze, copper, and ceramic. Oil lamps and olive oil also counted among the most important products. In addition, people could also purchase wine, honey, dried meat, and even silk fabric. In such an important harbor and trade çenter as Ephesus, one could doubtless meet people from all countries of the world each day in the agora.

 Parts of this water clock turned up during the excavations. Statues of philosophers, rhetoricians, statesmen, scholars, and gods also stood in the agora. A number of bases for these statues have also been found.
In recent years, graves from both the archaic and classical periods were identified along the sacred way. In the stratum under these, about seven to eight meters down, building components and ceramic from the ninth to seventh centuries BCE have been found. Archaeologists believe that these are traces of ancient Smyrna (Izmir). In any case, it is clear that, even before the Hellenistic period, a settlement was located here.