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Ephesus Library of Celsus

Ephesus Library of Celsus

From the perspective of its architectural style, this is one of the outstanding examples of building technique in Ephesus; it was constructed in 117 CE. Its name comes from Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, who was the proconsul in Ephesus, the Capital city of the province of Asia, betvveen 105 and 107 CE. He died at 70 years of age. His son, Gaius Julius Aquila, erected this structure as a grave monument. He probably built it following the wishes of his father, who probably did not originally intend it to be a library.
It may have been convcrted into a library because of its location in the çenter of the city, since the city officials would not have granted permission to build a tomb there. Thus, his father found his final resting place beneath the main apse of the library. The sarcophagus is stili visible through an opening under the niche of the apse. It is made from high-quality marble; reliefs with garlands, and figures of Eros and Nike decorate it.

The reign of Hadrian was the high point of the Roman empire; the majority of the structures in Ephesus were built or renovated in this era.

this period come ınto beautiful unity in the façade of this two-story building, appointed with Corinthian columns. Nine steps lead to the 21-meter-wide podium from which the library rose. Three gateways lie betvveen the aediculae, each of which is set off by two columns. The rniddle gate is the highest and broadest of the three, ali of which feature ornate decoration. Statues of female figures stand in the niches on both sides of the gatevvays. The originals are on display in Vienna. The statues embody wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), thought (Ennoia), and virtue (Arete). Thcy arc not only symbols, but also illustrate the personal characteristics of the deceased. The upper story is also divided into three aediculae, in which are windows with triangular and semi-circular architraves.

The library measures 10.92 by 16.72 meters. The foundation is made of decorative marble. The statue of either the father or the son stood in the main apse; this is now on display in the İstanbul Museum of Archaeology. Niches for the rolled-up scrolls lined the three side walls. The second and third stories contained similar niches. Wooden balconies were installed in front of these niches, so that people would have access to the shelves. The walls behind the shelves were hollow, which protected the books from too much moisture. These niches could store about 12,000 scrolls.
In antiquity, the Library of Celsus was one of the four most important libraries in the area. The others were in Alexandria, Pergamon, and Nysa.

When the Goths attacked Ephesus in 262 CE, ali the wooden structures, including the scrolls, went up in flames. In the fourth century CE, a fountain and a basin were constructed in front of the staircase out of relief blocks from the Parthian monument. The façade of the library probably collapsed during a severe earthquake in the tenth century CE.

During the excavations at the beginning of the twentieth century, the remaining architectural elements were hauled to the agora. Fortunately, about sixty or seventy percent of the façade was stili recoverable, which considerably facilitated its restoration. In 1970, F. Hueber began directing the restorations, and completed the work in 1978.