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Ephesus Museum Monumental Statues
Ephesus Museum Monumental Statues

3 – Hall of Fountain Finds: Monumental statues

In the Hall of Fountain Finds, statue groups found in Ephesus decorating three monumental fountains dated to the late 1st century A.D. and early 2nd century are exhibited. The sheer size of the statues communicates the splendor in the public places of the period. Statues found in different places such as Curetes Street, Scholasticia Bath, and Terrace Houses are also on display.

Water “management” in Ephesus
The presence of monumental fountains is a commonly observed element of Antique cities. In Roman Empire, especially in hot and dry regions such as North Africa and Anatolia, fountains gained more importance, and they were enriched with large pools.

These fountains, usually found on the main streets of the cities, were decorated with columns and statues and they would constitute a source of pride for competing cities with their glory.

Some were commissioned by local governments to honor Roman emperors, while some were commissioned in the name of the wealthy people fi-nancing the aqueducts. The first Roman Emperor Augustus (reign 27 B.C. – 14 A.D.) initiated the water system of Ephesus.

The water was brought to the city with aqueducts from around Kusadasi, Marnas and the Cayster River and distributed to the city through a developed network of terracotta pipes. The water in the fountains was free to the public, also providing coolness to the streets on hot days. Water was gathered in a reservoir and from here, distributed to the fountains, public baths and homes.

Zeus portrait head
1st century A.D., marble, 43 cm
This is a portrayal of Zeus with the eye pupils and the back part are left untouched while the upper broken parts are completed through restoration.

The fountain located at the city square built in the name of Emperor Domitian (reign 81-96 A.D.) was adorned by a glorious monument named after Pollio, by his stepson who financed the construction of the state agora and the aqueduct in Marnas. This way, Pollio was honored by permission of the City Council. The Pollio fountain was built between 4-14 A.D. and each of the pieces in the Polyphemos status group within the large semicircu-lar niche of the fountain is exhibited in the hall. On the court, which is another gallery space in the museum, the copies of these statues are displayed in the niche, true to their originals. At the entrance of the hall, in the cen-ter, is the Resting Warrior, the colossal statue of a young man in lying position. To the very left of the entrance is a Zeus head found in the niche of the Domitian (Pollio) Fountain facing the state agora and an Aphrodite torso from the Later Hellenistic Period.

Aphrodite torso
1st century A.D., marble, 73 cm
The statue is missing its head, right arm, left arm from the elbow down and the legs from the knee down. The dress exposing the upper body is gathered below. On the right arm is a snake-shaped bracelet. The finger still visible on the right side of the statue on the dress may have belonged to the statue of the Infant Eros and the Aphrodite torso is a copy of the famous Aphrodite and Eros statue group of the Hellenistic Period.

Resting warrior statue
1st century A.D., marble, 120 cm
The statue portrays a lying warrior. In the statue, the weight of the body is placed on his arm resting on a rock. The warrior is thought to have held a shield in his left hand and a sword on his right hand, and his wavy hair is held back with a hair band. His facial expression is intriguing.

Odysseus and the Polyphemos statue group
1st century B.C., marble
This group of statues enacts the legendary struggle of Odysseus and his friends with the Cyclops giant Poly-phemos: Legend has it that Polyphemos, the Cyclops giant son of the sea of god Poseidon, lives in one of the islands where Odysseus stopped by. Odysseus goes to the giant’s cave and drinks his milk. When Polyphemos comes, he eats Odysseus’s friends, falls asleep and then Odysseus pokes the giant in the eye with a log, blinds him and leaves.

The placement of the pieces in the statue group is true to their original places in the fountain. The pieces that be-long to ten of the figures have been found. This group of statues from the Late Hellenistic Period probably origi-nally decorated the pediment of the temple which is thought to have belonged to Egyptian goddess Isis or Augus-tus. The statues were used for a second time in the niche of the Pollio fountain facing the Domitian Square.

At the center of the group of statues in the museum is the head and left leg of Polyphemos, the surviving pieces. On the left, as in the myth, is Odysseus offering a glass of wine to the giant; the hero’s feet, head and arms are missing. The two warriors on the far left hold out a cup to the giant while carrying a wine bottle. Standing on the right of Polyphemos, other friends of Odysseus are sharpening the club to a point, which they will use to blind the giant. In front of Polyphemos lay two figures whose painful facial expressions stand out.

One of the most striking fountains of Ephesus is the Nymphaeum Traiani on Curetes Street. The epitaph on it indicates that the two story fountain was commissioned by Claudius Aristion, a high-level provincial officer of Ephesus between 102-114 A.D. for Emperor Trajan.
In the hall, in front of the wall across from the entrance are the façade statues of the Nymphaeum of Traiani. The statues of a reclining Satyr, a dressed Dionysos, a man’s portrait and the city’s legendary founder Androk-lus and his dog, and Aphrodite are in this section. Later, the naked Dionysos and a dressed man’s relief and pieces of columns adorned with vine leaves from the Late Antonius Period (138-161 A.D.) were added.

Dionysos statue
2nd century A.D., marble, 189 cm
The naked statue has many of its pieces missing and the vine stick next to its left leg support the body. The ex-plicit portrayal of the pubic muscles of the longhaired Dionysos covered with bunches of grapes and vine leaves bring to mind the style of the famous Greek sculptor Polycleitus (late 5th century – early 4th century B.C.). The statue may have been a reproduction of a 5th century B.C. model.

Reclining Satyr statue
2nd century A.D., marble, 49 cm
This statue used to decorate the second story of the Nymphaeum Traiani. Multiple pieces of one of the mytho-logical Satyr figures are missing. The realistic portrayal of the Satyr’s body is striking.

Aphrodite statue
2nd century A.D. marble, 126 cm
This statue was found in 1957 during the excavations around the Nymphaeum Traiani and it is thought to de-pict a nymph or Aphrodite. The half-clad figure missing its head and arms is on a low pedestal. The folds be-hind a decoration in the shape of a clamshell make up the sash of a fabric draping the lower part of the statue.

Androklus with his dog statue group
2nd century A.D., marble, 122 cm
Many pieces of the statue depict the founder of Ephesus in 10th century B.C. as a Greek colony, the legendary king Androklus with his dog. The collar on the dog’s neck, which stands next to the king and a tree log, is strik-ingly detailed. According to antiquity writers such as Strabon (63/64 B.C. – 24 A.D.) and Pausanias, following the oracle’s advice, Androklus let a boar and a fish determine where he would start the city in Anatolia. Legend has it that the king and his companions find Ephesus by following a boar that was startled by a spark from the pan as they were cooking fish. The statue is an adaptation of the piece Meleagros sculpted by Skopas circa 340 B.C.


According to the excavated epitaph, the Gaius Laecanius Bassus Fountain located in the southwest corner of the state agora was ordered to be built in 80 A.D. by Bassus of the city’s elite. Parts of the fountain have survived, and it is known that the people referred to the fountain as the Water Palace due to its sheer size.
The statues decorating the Gaius Laecanius Bassus fountain are exhibited in the far back corner of the hall. On the inner part are the torsos of three Tritons and a Satyr, women’s statues and an Ephesian Hera on the opposite wall, to the right of which are Aphrodite statues. In the center are marble blocks with backgammon-like games drawn on them.
In the corner on the right, across the hall, portraits and ideal female and male plastic heads excavated from dif-ferent parts of Ephesus are exhibited. The helmeted general’s head and the portrait next to the Hermes bust may have belonged to Lysimachos, the founder of the Hellenistic Period Ephesus.

Lysimachos portrait head
First half of 3rd century B.C., marble, 42 cm
The statue of Lysimachos, one of the generals of Alexander, was found on the Curetes Street. Lysimachos re-built Ephesus in 285 B.C. in the location it is visited today. The general’s hair locks echo the typical artistic style of the Hellenistic Period. His lips are slightly parted and his pupils were left untouched. The calm expres-sion of this statue reminds one of the Lysimachos seen on the coins issued in his first period and evokes the work of Lysippos, one of the famous Hellenistic sculptors.

Ideal female head
1st – 2nd century A.D., marble, 35 cm
This statue was found in the Terrace Houses. A Classical Period copy aiming for ideal beauty rather than real-ism, the piece is made of coarse-grained marble. Her wavy hair parted in the middle is held at the top with a ribbon.

Helmeted general’s portrait head
2nd century A.D., marble, 41 cm
Excavated from the west side of the Scholastikia Public Bath, this head belongs to a general. His hair falls down from underneath his helmet. Only the left side survives and the right side is missing. His hair and beard are depicted in detail.

Nymph statue
2nd century A.D., marble, 165 cm
Nymphs are mythological fairies that live in prairies, forests, mountains and watersides. In this statue depicting a nymph, the breasts are damaged. Many pieces are missing and the legs are completed through restoration. The fairy is in an elegant movement, leaning forward to the left on a round pedestal. The wet and thin fabric on the fairy accentuates the curves of her body.

Aphrodite statue
50-100 A.D., marble, 185 cm
The statue was found near the Laecanius Bassus Fountain, and it is missing certain parts such as the back of its head, front sections of its right and left arms, left foot, and a portion of the right leg. Her weight is placed on the right leg and the upper body leans towards the right. Her combed-back wavy hair frames the forehead in a tri-angular fashion. Aphrodite’s chiton reveals her right shoulder and is belted at the waist with a narrow strip. The cloak on the chiton, i.e. the chimaton, hangs down the waist in long pleads.

Triton statue
69-96 A.D., marble, 100 cm
The head and arms of the statue are missing. Befitting the general depiction of Tritons narrated in mythology as the sons of Poseidon, his legs carrying his fit body are in the form of two fish tails curling to both sides. A wa-ter pipe is thought to have passed through the channel behind the left shoulder.

Game boards
Roman, marble
In Roman Ephesus, many game boards were placed in agoras for the citizens to play games. There were also special game boards in wealthy people’s homes. Findings indicate that the checkers were made of clay. These checkers were found in the city’s agora.

Next : 4 – The Hall of New Finds and Coins: Ephesus and its small but precious finds

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