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Ephesus Harbor

Ephesus Harbor

The harbor Street (Arkadiane), which ended at the foundation walls of the triumphal gate, ran up to the edge the harbor.

In antiquity, this was the busiest harbor in the world, with a high capacity for trade. Since it first came into use, the harbor was regularly cleared of the accumulated deposits of the Lesser Menderes (Kaystros). Despite this, it filled in more with every passing year, and removed Ephesus from the sea, so that the city 
slowly lost its significance as a harbor city. King Attalos II of Pergamon (159-138 BCE) dredged out the basin of the harbor and constructed breakwaters, so that large ships could reach the inner harbor. Even these measures could not prevent the harbor from further silting up.

In 61 CE and again in the next century, when Hadrian came to Ephesus, the proconsul dredged the harbor, and tried to divert the course of the Kaystros. An inscription telis us that an Ephesian spent 20,000 denarii on the cleaning of the harbor basin. Despite all these measures, the harbor filled up över time, and Ephesus today lies 4.5 km from the sea. Only a small lake remains, lying in the middle of a swamp.