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Library of Celsus

library of celsus in ephesusAlthough the building is of a mainly cultural character it is also a funerary monument. After the death of Celsus Polemaenus, a former consul who had been appointed governor of Ephesus, his son erected a magnificent reading room over his tomb. The building, which dates from the 2nd century, was attacked by fire in 260 but the facade suffered no damage. It is 21 m wide and 16 m high. Equestrian statues stood on pedestals on each side of the main staircases and there are also indications that statues were placed in the niches on the upper floor. The main room measures 16 x 10 m. The burial chamber under the ground floor contains a sarcophag s in an excellent state of preservation. Excavations carried out by Austrian archaJologists at the beginning of the 20th century revealed a 4th century fountain in the front courtyard and very valuable carvings in high relief depicting the wars waged by Marcus Aurelius and ucius Verus against the Parthians. Advantage was taken of legal loopholes existirig at the time of the excavations to transfe{ these reliefs, together with four female statues from the facade of the library, to the Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna.

The monumental facade as it stands today is the result of restoration work begun in the 1970s. Lead plates are placed at the top and bottom of the columns and the whole given a play of 50 cm capable of withstanding a 9 degree earthquake on the east-west axis. A perforation of 10 cm has been made in each of the columns and iron inserted. While work was in progress on the front facade an unknown aspect of Roman architecture was discovered in the form of a curve starting from zero at the bottom of the stairs and reaching 4.5 cm at the bases of the columns. This curve reaches 10 cm in converse fashion, a feature which until now was thought to have existed only in Greek architecture. This expedient is known to have been employed in order to increase the monumental effect over an area 21 m in width. Restoration of the building was completed and the whole opened to the public in 1978.




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