Since research began at Ephesos in the late 19th century, the importance of a connection to the sea and the existence of functioning harbours were undisputed for the settlement region. It is therefore even more surprising that, in spite of the cultural-historical importance attributed to the harbours of Ephesos, a scientific examination of them has not taken place, although it represents one of the largest and most important installations in the eastern Mediterranean region. Our knowledge of the harbour is largely based on chance finds, not only with regard to the overall concept of the location but also to individual buildings and installations and even construction details.
Since 2008 an interdisciplinary research project focuses especially on the diachronic development of the various harbours of Ephesos. The combination of paleogeographical and geomorphological investigations based on extensive core drilling, geological analyses, geophysical investigations, an evaluation of aerial photographs, drone flights, terrestrial surveying, surface survey, excavations, evaluation of artefacts and biogenic evidence, architectural research on selected objects, pollen analysis, residue- and contamination analyses in the harbour basin, evaluation of the historical and epigraphic sources and of historic prints and photographs has led to a complete revision of our perception of the Ephesian harbours from Prehistory up the Ottoman period.
In spite of, or perhaps precisely because of ten years of intensive research activity in the harbour of Ephesos we are only beginning to understand in general its infrastructure and usage. The high-definition evaluation of drill cores from the harbour basin on the one hand casts doubt on the methods employed so far and their level of detail; yet on the other hand this evaluation enables an insight for the first time into the waste management of the city. Not only fecal matter reached the harbour basin by way of water channels, but also marble abrasive, which now can most probably be indirectly identified by the high concentration of corundum. The types of dwarf shrubs identified by pollen analysis could be connected to packing material which was disposed of in the harbour, in just the same manner as the former necropolis served, after the 5th century, as the dumping ground for freight and cargo which had broken in transit. These case studies, approached in exemplary fashion, provide evidence of a long and complex usage of the harbour of Ephesos and, furthermore, allow new interpretive models for its siltation.
Sabine Ladstätter studied Classical Archaeology, Prehistory, Protohistory and Ancient History at the Universities of Graz and Vienna, culminating in a Master's degree (University of Graz) in 1992 and a Doctoral degree at the University of Vienna in 1997. Between 1997-2007 she held the position of Research Assistant at the Institute for the Cultural History of Antiquity at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. After her Habilitation at the University of Vienna in 2007 she moved to the Austrian Institute of Archaeology, the directorship of which she assumed in 2009. At the same time, the directorship of the excavations at Ephesos was assigned to her. Awards for Scientist of the Year in 2011 in Austria, and for the best popular scientific book in Austria in 2014, are proof of her engagement in the areas of scientific communication and public outreach. She is a member of the German Archaeological Institute and of the Archaeological Institute of America, as well as numerous national and international scientific and editorial boards, and is a referee for leading research promotion institutions. Visiting professorships at the Ecole Normale Superieur de Paris (2016) and Stanford University (2019) underscore her engagement in the fields of education and teaching, also attested by her supervision of academic degrees at a variety of European universities.