Ephesos Museum (Vienna, Austria)

The Ephesos Museum in Vienna displays antiquities from the city of Ephesus in Turkey. In the late 19th century, under the auspices of the Institute of Classical Archaeology and conducted by the newly founded Austrian Archaeological Institute, Austrian scientists began conducting research in the ruins of Ephesus. Numerous objects of high quality were recovered and moved to Vienna. They can be seen today at the Ephesos Museum. The museum’s collection includes a selection of Roman sculptures and architectural elements that once decorated magnificent buildings such as the thermal baths and the Ephesian Great Theatre. The Ephesos Museum is an annex of the Kunsthistorisches Museum.

Lying on the Turkish Aegean coast, Ephesus was one of the largest cities of the ancient world and is now among the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey. The museum’s collection began when Sultan Abdul Hamid II donated some of the archaeological findings to the Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph I. The export of antiquities from Turkey was generally banned with the proclamation of the Turkish Antiquities Law of 1907 and no more artefacts was sent to Vienna after this date. Many other Ephesus artefacts are on display in the Ephesus Archaeological Museum near the site in Selçuk.

Alongside sculptures and architectural elements, a series of Roman reliefs unique in both its size and importance, the so-called Parthian Monument, forms a highlight of the collection.

selected masterpieces

Architecture

Pediment fragment from the Library of Celsus.
Facade pediment fragment from the Library of Celsus decorated with rosettes, garlands and the head of Medusa.
Architectural elements of the Octagon, the tomb of the Ptolemaic princess Arsioe IV half-sister of Cleopatra VII). The tomb was a vaulted burial chamber placed on a rectangular base and was located in the centre of Ephesus in front of the terrace houses.
Architectural elements of the Octagon, the tomb of the Ptolemaic princess Arsioe IV (half-sister of Cleopatra VII). The tomb was a vaulted burial chamber placed on a rectangular base and was located in the centre of Ephesus in front of the terrace houses.
Acroterion in the shape of a palmette, Roman copy from the 1st half of 1st century AD of Hellenistic original.
Acroterion in the shape of a palmette, Roman copy from the 1st half of 1st century AD of a Hellenistic original.
Architectural elements from the the Artemision Altar (one of the Seven Wonders of the World), including a fragment of a relief with a wounded Amazon stems, ca. 350 BC - 300 BC.
Architectural elements from the Artemision Altar (one of the Seven Wonders of the World), including a fragment of a relief with a wounded Amazon, ca. 350 BC – 300 BC.
Two fragments of a frieze with hunting Cupids that decorated the stage building of the Great Theatre of Ephesus, 2nd half of 1st century AD.
Two fragments of a frieze with hunting Cupids that decorated the stage building of the Great Theatre of Ephesus, 2nd half of 1st century AD.
Model of Ephesus.
Model of Ephesus.

Statues and busts

Female statues that decorated the niches of the Library of Celsus symbolizing wisdom (Sophia, left) and virtue (Arete, right).
Female statues that decorated the niches on the lower storey of the Library of Celsus symbolizing wisdom (Sophia, left) and virtue (Arete, right).
Head of Hadrian, of the so-called Chiaramonti 392 type, from Ephesus, found among the ruins of the The Gate of Mazeus and Mithridates.
Head of Hadrian, of the so-called Chiaramonti 392 type, found among the ruins of the Gate of Mazeus and Mithridates.
Statue of an emperor wearing the military cuirass, 2nd century AD.
Statue of an emperor wearing the military cuirass, 2nd century AD.
Bronze candelabra (table lamp) depicting Heracles fighting the Centaur Nessos, 2nd century BC.
Bronze candelabra (table lamp) depicting Heracles fighting the Centaur Nessos, 2nd century BC.
Fragments of a marble sphinx group, from a detail on the throne of the statue of Zeus by Phidias' at Olympia, Roman copy of Greek original (440 BC).
Fragments of a marble sphinx group, from a detail on the throne of the statue of Zeus by Phidias’ at Olympia, Roman copy of Greek original (440 BC).
Reconstruction from fragments of the marble sphinx group, from a detail on the throne of the statue of Zeus by Phidias' at Olympia, Roman copy of Greek original (440 BC).
Reconstruction from fragments of the marble sphinx group, from a detail on the throne of the statue of Zeus by Phidias’ at Olympia, Roman copy of Greek original (440 BC).
Statue of the Melpomene, Muse of tragedy, her right hand rests on a long club while her missing left hand must have been holding a tragic mask.
Statue of Melpomene, Muse of tragedy, her right hand rests on a long club while her missing left hand must have been holding a tragic mask.
Head of Hermes, the messenger of the gods, Roman copy from the middle of the 2nd century AD of a Greek bronze original dated to 430 BC, found in 1895 in the harbor baths.
Head of Hermes, the messenger of the gods, Roman copy from the middle of the 2nd century AD of a Greek bronze original dated to 430 BC, found in 1895 in the harbor baths.
Bronze oil lamp with ionic capital and decorated with two busts of Hercules and Omphale, Roman period.
Bronze oil lamp with ionic capital and decorated with two busts of Hercules and Omphale, Roman period.

A bronze statue of an athlete (Apoxyomenos) dated to the 1st century AD and copied from a Greek original from the 4th century BC forms the centerpiece of the museum’s collection of Roman sculptures. It has been recreated from 234 fragments and shows a young athlete cleaning his strigil, an implement used to wash the body after a contest. Unfortunately, at the time of my visit in August 2015, the statue was on loan to the Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World exhibition at the Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Bronze Statue of an Athlete "Ephesian Apoxyomenos", 1st century AD. Manfred Werner (Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0)
Bronze Statue of an Athlete “Ephesian Apoxyomenos”, 1st century AD.
Photo by Manfred Werner (Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Parthian Monument

The Parthian Monument is one of the most important Roman-age reliefs from Asia Minor. In five thematic cycles it commemorates the Roman Emperor Lucius Verus who established a camp in Ephesus during his Parthian Campaign of 161-165 AD. These five thematic cycles are: 1. Adoption, 2. Parthian war, 3. Personifications of towns of the Empire, 4. “Apotheosis of Lucius Verus, 5. Meeting of the gods. The individual pieces were arranged in the form of a monumental altar with an U-shaped foundations. The friezes have a total length of about 70 metres, of which 40 metres are on display.

Relief frieze of the Parthian monument depicting the political act of adoption of Antoninus Pius and his successors, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus by Hadrian which took place during the last year of his reign in 138 AD.
Relief frieze of the Parthian monument depicting the political act of adoption of Antoninus Pius and his successors, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus by Hadrian which took place during the last year of his reign in 138 AD.
Relief frieze of the Parthian monument depicting the the Roman counter-attack against the Parthians which began in 162 and ended in 166 AD with the destruction of the Parthian capital Ctesiphon.
Relief frieze of the Parthian monument depicting the the Roman counter-attack against the Parthians which began in 162 and ended in 166 AD with the destruction of the Parthian capital Ctesiphon.
Relief frieze of the Parthian monument depicting the Personifications of cities which participated in the events of the Parthian war, in the middle Carrhae and Edessa with vexillum flag.
Relief frieze of the Parthian monument depicting the Personifications of cities which participated in the events of the Parthian war, in the middle Carrhae and Edessa with vexillum flag.
Relief frieze of the Parthian monument depicting Apotheosis of Lucius Verus, Lucius Verus is represented on Helios’ chariot being driven by Nike (Victory) who leads him by the hand.
Relief frieze of the Parthian monument depicting the Apotheosis of Lucius Verus. Lucius Verus is represented on Helios’ chariot being driven by Nike (Victory) who leads him by the hand.
Relief frieze of the Parthian monument depicting the Meeting of the gods.
Relief frieze of the Parthian monument depicting the Meeting of the gods.
Relief friezes of the Parthian monument.
Relief friezes of the Parthian monument.
Relief friezes of the Parthian monument.
Relief friezes of the Parthian monument.

Numismatic

Medaillon with the Artemission and two temples (Ephesus twice Neokoros), and coin of Elagabalus with the Artemission on the reverse, 3rd century AD.
Medaillon with the Artemission and two temples (Ephesus twice Neokoros), and coin of Elagabalus with the Artemission on the reverse, 3rd century AD.

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