12 ROMAN RUINS IN TURKEY In the land that is now Turkey, a wide marble road slopes down to one of the largest libraries of the ancient world. Between 12.000 and 15.000 scrolls were housed in the grand Library of Celsus in the Greco-Roman city of Ephesus. Designed by the Roman architect Vitruoya, the library was built in memory of Celsus Polemeanus, who was a Roman senator, General Governor of the Province of Asia, and a great lover of books. Celsus’ son, Julius Aquila, began the construction in A.D. 110. The library was completed by Julius Aquila’s successors in 135. The body of Celsus was buried beneath the ground floor in a lead container inside a marble tomb. A corridor behind the north wall leads to the vault. The Library of Celsus was remarkable not only for its size and its beauty, but also for its clever and e¬cient architectural design. OPTICAL ILLUSIONS AT THE LIBRARY OF CELSUS The Library of Celsus in Ephesus was built on a narrow lot between existing buildings. Yet, the design of the library creates the e¢ect of monumental size. At the entrance to the library is a 21-meter wide courtyard paved in marble. Nine wide marble steps lead up to a two-story gallery. Curved and triangular pediments are supported by a double-decker layer of paired columns. The center columns have larger capitals and rafters than those on the end. This arrangement gives the illusion that the columns are farther apart than they really are. Adding to the illusion, the podium beneath the columns slopes slightly down at the edges. GRAND ENTRANCES AT THE LIBRARY OF CELSUS On each side of the staircase at the grand library in Ephesus, Greek and Latin letters describe the life of Celsus. Along the outer wall, four recesses contain female statues representing wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), intelligence (Ennoia) and virtue (Arete). These statues are copies — the originals were taken to Vienna in Europe. Austrian archeologists, beginning with Otto Benndorf (1838-1907), have been excavating Ephesus since the late 19th century. The center door is taller and wider than the other two, although the symmetry of the façade is kept in tact. “The richly carved façade,” writes architectural historian John Bryan Ward-Perkins, “illustrates Ephesian decorative architecture at its best, a deceptively simple scheme of bicolumnar aediculae two columns, one on either side of a statue niche, of which those of the upper story are displaced so as to straddle the spaces between those of the lower story. Other characteristic features are the alternation of curved and triangular pediments, a widespread late hellenistic device...and the pedestal bases which gave added height to the columns of the lower order...” CAVITY CONSTRUCTION AT THE LIBRARY OF CELSUS The Ephesus Library was designed not merely for beauty; it was specially engineered for the preservation of books. The main gallery had double walls separated by a corridor. Rolled manuscripts were stored in square niches along the inner walls. Professor Lionel Casson informs us that there were “thirty niches in all, capable of holding at a very rough estimate, some 3.000 rolls.” Others estimate four times that number. “Clearly more attention was paid to the beauty and impressiveness of the structure than to the size of the collection in it,” bemoans the Classics professor.