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Results of the struggle at ancient Ephesus: natural processes 1, human intervention 0

By
John C. Kraft
John C. Kraft
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Delaware PO Box 250, Schwenksville, PA 19473, USA
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George Rapp
George Rapp
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, MN 55812, USA
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Helmut Brükner
Helmut Brükner
Department of Geography, University of Marburg D-35032 Marburg, Germany
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İlhan Kayan
İlhan Kayan
Department of Geography, Ege University Izmir TR-35100 Bornova-Izmir, Turkey
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Published:
January 01, 2011

Abstract

Coastal areas have been prime locations for habitation and commerce. Early authors such as Pausanias (second century CE), and Strabo (64 or 63 BCE–24 CE) noted the impacts of shoreline changes. Geomorphological and subsurface geological data, combined with archaeological excavation and ancient texts, indicate a long interplay between natural processes of estuarine infilling by sediments from the Küçük Menderes River (ancient Cayster River) and multiple attempts of human intervention to preserve the harbours of Ephesus. Strabo noted that harbour engineering efforts there, such as the construction of a mole to prevent siltation, instead created a sediment trap that made things worse. The pre-Holocene river valley was inundated by Holocene sea-level rise that formed the ancient Gulf of Ephesus. Extensive palaeogeographical studies, based on sediment coring, geomorphology, archaeology and history, have provided details of the problems the inhabitants faced in keeping vital harbours in operation. Dating and analysis of sedimentary deposits has allowed the description of shifting river courses, floodplain changes, human intervention, and anthropogenic deposits at Ephesus. During and following Classical times sediment deposition rapidly began to fill in the embayment, requiring the inhabitants to regularly shift the harbours westward. Ultimately, it was to no avail.

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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Human Interactions with the Geosphere: The Geoarchaeological Perspective

L. Wilson
L. Wilson
University of New Brunswick in Saint John, Canada
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Geological Society of London
Volume
352
ISBN electronic:
9781862396005
Publication date:
January 01, 2011

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