Lectures/Nov 5, 2018

Revising the Chronology of Late Antique Ephesus: Urban Phasing and Epigraphic Landscapes

Revising the Chronology of Late Antique Ephesus: Urban Phasing and Epigraphic Landscapes lead image

Revising the Chronology of Late Antique Ephesus: Urban Phasing and Epigraphic Landscapes, lecture by Luke Lavan (University of Kent),King’s College London, November 13, 2018, 5:30–7:00 pm

Ephesus is often presented as a dynamic late antique urban city, brutally replaced by a Byzantine town, with a much smaller fortification. This transition is usually thought to have taken place in the dark days of Heraclius and his struggle with Persia. My paper will present a new model of the late chronology of the city, using spolia as a basis for re-evaluating its phases, tied to recent excavation results. In place of one rather ugly town, several very different late antique cities emerge: a tidy Greek city of the 4th c., a monumental metropolis renewed by Theodosius II, an architecturally-adventurous centre under Justinian, and a desperately classical mess of the time of Maurice. The epigraphic assemblage can only be correctly interpreted when this is understood. The paper concludes by noting that the chronology of major sities in Greece and Turkey (Philippi, Aphrodisias, Ephesus, Sagalassos) is oversimplified and wrong, and that the urban history of the 6th c. needs to be rewritten.

Dr Luke Lavan is a lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Kent. He is particularly interested in the everyday use of space in the Late Antique and Early Medieval city (AD 300-700), drawing on archaeological, textual and epigraphic evidence from across the Roman Empire. Luke is currently responsible for field archaeology instruction, and is co-director of the Kent-Berlin Ostia Project. Luke has published extensively on various aspects of Late Antiquity and is the series editor of Late Antique Archaeology.

Part of the Late Antique and Byzantine Studies seminar series.