On 5 November, two new photographic volumes were presented at the Ephesos Museum in Vienna. In Ephesos – Der Reiz der Zerstörung (Ephesos – The Beauty of Destruction) and Die Katzen von Ephesos (Cats of Ephesos) director of excavations, Dr. Sabine Ladstätter, and eminent photographer and publisher, Lois Lammerhuber, brought a fascinating angle to the many facets of the site that is steeped in tradition. “The two volumes are strong messengers of the archaeological dig, in short: a dazzling site in glossy representation,” said minister for science and research, Karlheinz Töchterle, at the event which attracted about 250 guests.
“Archaeology fascinates, there is no doubt about it. Just look at the visitor numbers at sites of antiquity. The academic discipline of archaeology, however, is seen as rare and exotic and occasionally gets under massive legitimation pressure. Yet there is no question of its relevance for society or its economic significance. Showing this clearly and unambiguously was a major motivation for me to write this book,” explained Sabine Ladstätter, head of excavations in Ephesos since 2010, director of the Austrian Archaeological Institute (ÖAI) and ‘Scientist of the Year 2011’. “Today we archaeologists work in full awareness of the fact that any dig is an act of destruction but maybe the most enticing form it can take,” says Ladstätter about the book’s title. With the Cats of Ephesos, she added, they decided to go for a ‘new perspective’.
“Capturing the same theme in two completely different narratives was a huge challenge. At the core of it is the transition of a classic excavation site into a modern excavation business, a metamorphosis initiated by Sabine Ladstätter. That it was possible to integrate the photography for the books – with major support from dig photographer Niki Gail – into the everyday work going on at the site, makes it a once-in-a-lifetime book, as our editor Jürgen Hatzenbichler called it,” reports Lammerhuber, who recently captured the 21st Century Garden of ecologist and botanist Georg Grabherr, ‘Scientist of the year 2012’. Lammerhuber has created more than 70 books with his photographs, most of them award-winners.
Archaeological research in Austria has been closely linked to the dig in Ephesos since 1895. Ephesos is also an example of successful interaction between culture tourism and regional development. In 2012 alone, around 160 researchers from 18 countries worked there under Austrian direction and nearly two million people visit Ephesos each year. Ephesos is a visitor magnet, drawing many interested people and communicating the fascination of archaeology. A new attraction is the Great Theatre of Ephesos, recently reopened after 17 years of restoration work. ÖAI scientists were among the key contributors to restoring it to a state where it can function as a theatre again.
Over the last ten years, Austria has invested around 11.5 million euros in research at Ephesos, about six million of it for the protective cover of Terrace House 2. In addition, the dig receives private funds, e.g. from the Ephesos Foundation, the association Gesellschaft der Freunde von Ephesos, as well as from the American Society of Ephesus and the Kaplan Foundation. The Ephesos dig is the largest excavation project of the Austrian Archaeological Institute (ÖAI), a subsidiary agency of the ministry of science and research.
For more information visit the website of the Austrian Archaeological Institute www.oeai.at.