Human-Environment Interactions during the Last 8000 Years in the Environs of the Ancient City of Ephesus, Western Turkey

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Friederike Stock1, Maria Knipping2, Anna Pint1 and Helmut Brückner1, (1)University of Cologne, Institute of Geography, Cologne, Germany, (2)University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany
About 6 millennia ago the maximum Holocene transgression reached c. 20 km inland. Thereafter, the coastline has continuously shifted westwards due to the progradation of the Küçük Menderes delta and its tributaries. Consequently, settlement and harbour sites were established following the retreating coastline. Our interdisciplinary geoarchaeological research focuses on (i) the detection of spatial and temporal shifts in the coastline during the past millennia and the human response to these changes; (ii) the human impact on the landscape, especially in the environs of the Roman Harbour and the harbour canal; (iii) the reconstruction of the vegetation history of the Ephesia. More than 200 drill cores were retrieved from geo-bioarchives. For a better understanding of the depositional environments, we carried out geochemical, sedimentological, microfaunal, palynological and parasitological analyses in Ephesus’ harbours and in the environs of two Neolithic settlement sites. Diagnostic ceramic finds, AMS-14C age estimates and a tephra layer were used for the chronological framework.
The results reveal human impact in sediments: early agricultural use in the Neolithic period; several meters of sediment with a high concentration of fig and grape seeds in the Koressos harbour during the 6th-3rd centuries BC; an accelerated sedimentation rate up to the factor of ten in Hellenistic and Roman times. Heavy metal pollution, sugar melon and fruit tree pollen, as well as eggs of intestinal parasites occur in the Roman harbour and its canal during the prosperity period of the city. Pollen analysis revealed the dominance of deciduous oak, in a landscape with human impact, already since the 6th millennium BC. From Hellenistic times onwards, fruit trees appear next to crop and pasture farming. After the decline of the city in the 7th century AD, pine trees became dominant, presumably on abandoned land. In the Belevi swamp to the northeast of Ephesus, the ash from the Minoan eruption of the Thera volcano (Santorini) in 1630 BC is archived.