Located at the end of Curetes Street in the Celsus Library Court of Ephesus, the Gate of Augustus was built in 40 A.D by the slaves Mazeus and Mythridates, in honor of the emperor Augustus and his family who he had set them free and sent them to Ephesus to serve as officers in charge of maintaining the properties belonging to the Roman Empire. The monumental gate, also known as the Gate of Mazeus and Mithridates, was once used as the south gate of the 110-metre square Commercial Agora, where food and handmade decorative items were sold.
In this context it is necessary to add a few lines about Ephesus. Ephesus, the ancient Greek city, was located on the coast of Ionia, three km southwest of present-day Selçuk in İzmir Province of Turkey. It was built in the 10th century BC by the Attic and Ionian Greek colonists on the site of the former Arzawan capital. The city was famous for the nearby Temple of Artemis, considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The temple was completely rebuilt three times before its final destruction in 356 BC. Among many other monumental buildings of the city are the Library of Celsus, and a theatre capable of holding 25,000 spectators. The city was destroyed by the Goths in 263, which marked the decline of the city's splendour. Finally, Ephesus was completely abandoned by the 15th century. The forgotten city of Ephesus was rediscovered in1860s, when a series of British, German, and Austrian archaeologists excavated the site.
The square front of the 16 m tall colossal gate of Augustus was possibly once used as an auditorium and the steps of the Celsus Library would have served as the seats of the spectators. The passages of the gate are vaulted and the front side of the vault facing the Celsus Library is entirely made of black marble, while the other side is completely white.
The facade of the gate of Augustus in Ephesus was richly decorated with Ionian columns, while the side walls feature a three-fascia architrave, an ivy-embellished frieze and a serrated cornice. A three-sectioned, richly decorated Attic is supported by the strong pilasters of three arched passages. The center passage of the gate was created to add depth to the architectural appearance. The style of the center passage along with the ornamented Attic seems to be an added beauty, a crowning glory to the ancient gate.
On one side of the structure, there is a Latin inscription with bronze inlaid letters, part of which states – ‘From the Emperor Caesar Augustus, the son of the god, the greatest of the priests, who was consul twelve and tribune twenty times; and the wife of August Livia; the son of Lucus, Marc Agrippa, who was consul three times, Emperor, and tribune six times; and the daughter of Julio Caesar Augustus, Mazeus and Mythridates to their master and the people’.
While Ephesus is considered as one of the largest Roman archaeological sites in the eastern Mediterranean, the Gate of Augustus is widely considered as one of the most pleasant examples of the restorations launched at Ephesus.