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Decision 39 COM 8B.37
Ephesus, Turkey

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC-15/39.COM/8B and WHC-15/39.COM/INF.8B1,
  2. Inscribes Ephesus, Turkey on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (iii), (iv) and (vi);
  3. Takes note of the following provisional Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

    Brief synthesis

    Located within what was once the estuary of the river Kaystros, a continuous and complex settlement history can be traced in Ephesus beginning from the 7th millennium BCE at Cukurici Mound till present day at Selcuk. It is distinguished due to its favorable geographical location, but suffered from a continuous shifting of the shore line from the east to the west throughout the history. Caused by anthropogenic activity, this sedimentation led to several relocations of the city site and its harbors. The Neolithic settlement of Cukurici Mound marks the southern edge of the former estuary, now well inland. After a sudden destruction, the Cukurici Mound was abandoned and at least from the Middle Bronze Age onwards people settled on the Ayasuluk Hill. At least in the 2nd millennium BC the sanctuary of the Ephesian Artemis, originally an Anatolian mother goddess, was founded, which grew gradually to one of the largest and most powerful sanctuaries of the ancient world. From 1st millennium BCE onwards increased Greek influence can be observed at site. The Ionian cities that grew up in the wake of the Ionian migrations joined in a confederacy under the leadership of Ephesus. In the 4th century BCE, Lysimachos, one of the twelve generals of Alexander the Great, founded the new city of Ephesus, while leaving the old city around the Artemision. When Asia Minor was incorporated into the Roman Empire in 133 BCE, Ephesus was designated as the capital of the new province Asia and period of prosperity for Ephesus has begun. Excavations and conservation over the past 150 years have revealed grand monuments of the Roman Imperial period lining the old processional way through the ancient city including the Library of Celsus terrace houses. Pilgrimage is one of the most striking phenomena in Ephesus, because of the fact that it outlasted the existence of the city itself and shows continuity until the present days. Little remains of the famous Temple of Artemis, one of the ‘seven wonders of the world’ which drew pilgrims from all around the Mediterranean until it was eclipsed by Christian pilgrimage to the Church of Mary and the Basilica of St. John in the 5th century AD. The Mosque of Isa Bey and the medieval settlement on Ayasuluk Hill mark the advent of the Selçuk and Ottoman Turks.

    Criterion (iii): Ephesus is an exceptional testimony to the cultural traditions of the Hellenistic, Roman Imperial and early Christian periods as reflected in the monuments in the centre of the Ancient City and Ayasuluk. The cultural traditions of the Roman imperial period are reflected in the outstanding representative buildings of the city center including Celsus Library, Hadrian Temple, Serapeion and in Terrace House 2, with its wall paintings, mosaics and marble panelling showing the style of living of the upper levels of society at that time.

    Criterion (iv): Ephesus as a whole is an outstanding example of a settlement landscape determined by environmental factors over time. The ancient city is an outstanding example of a Roman harbour city, with sea channel and harbour basin along the Kaystros River. Earlier and subsequent harbours demonstrate the changing river landscape from the Classical Greek to Medieval periods.

    Criterion (vi): Stories and deposits of significant traditional and religious intangible cultural heritage of Anatolian cultures beginning with the cult of Cybele/Meter till the modern day’s rise of the Christianity are visible and traceable in Ephesus. It especially played a decisive role in the spread of the Christian faith in the Roman Empire. The extensive remains of the Basilica of St. John on Ayasuluk Hil and those of the Church of Mary in Ephesus are testament of the city’s importance to Christianity. Two important Councils of the early Church were held at Ephesus in 431 and 449 Ce, initiating the veneration of Mary in Christianity, which can be seen as a reflection of the earlier veneration of Artemis and the Anatolian Cybele. Ephesus was also the leading political and intellectual centre, with the second school of philosophy in the Aegean and Ephesus as a cultural and intellectual center had great influence on philosophy and medicine.


    The serial components contain sites which demonstrate the long settlement history of the place, each making a significant contribution to the overall Outstanding Universal Value. Together the components include all elements necessary to express Outstanding Universal Value and the property is of adequate size to ensure the complete representation of the features and processes which convey the property’s significance.


    The component properties retain authenticity in terms of location and setting, form and design. The remains at Cukurici Mound retain authenticity in terms of materials and substance. The other two component properties have all been subject to stone robbing in the past and subsequently to varying degrees of anastylosis, reconstruction and stabilisation using modern materials. Recent interventions have rectified damage caused by earlier inappropriate materials where possible and now make use of reversible techniques.

    Protection and management requirements

    The property is protected by Decisions of the Izmir Regional Conservation Council as empowered by the National Law for the Conservation of Cultural and Natural Property no. 2863, 23 July 1983, as amended. The Conservation Council has overall responsibility for the urban and archaeological sites within the property and buffer zone that are declared First Degree Archaeological Sites. Some areas within the buffer zone are protected as a Third Degree Archaeological Site and others are protected as an Urban Conservation Area.

    The Supervision and Coordination Council controls the implementation of the management plan for the serial property prepared by Selçuk municipality with input from the Advisory Council. The Management Plan includes an Action Plan covering conservation, visitor management and risk and crisis preparedness among other activities.

  4. Recommends that the State Party give consideration to the following:
    1. Raising the legislative protection of the entire buffer zone to the highest level;
    2. Completing the Management Plan as proposed to include the research programme and conservation programme for the overall property with provision for findings to be integrated into future management, education and interpretation and the extension of the monitoring system to relate to the inventory/database of the property;
    3. Carrying out impact assessments of all new management planning proposals including visitor management, infrastructure, landscaping, and transport/coach park proposals in line with Paragraph 110 of the Operational Guidelines and in accordance with ICOMOS Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments for Cultural World Heritage Properties;
  5. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2016, a report on the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.
Decision Code
39 COM 8B.37
Inscriptions on the World Heritage List, Reports
States Parties 1
Properties 1
Decisions adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015)
Context of Decision