Ephesus ancient Brothel

The Brothel: Interesting Taboo in Ephesus

At the corner of two of Ephesus’ biggest streets, Marble Road and Curetes Street, lies the Brothel. Although being one of the more illicit attractions in the ancient city, there are some very interesting sights that accompany it. 

The Brothel was built during the rule of the Roman Emperor Trajan, from 98-117 AD. The ground floor of the building consists of a hall along with a reception area; the floor of this reception area is decorated with a beautiful mosaic of the four seasons. Next to the reception area was a salon, with a bath and washing station, cleanliness being important for both the employees and customers of the Brothel. The second floor of the brothel had rooms for the, “guests”.

While the building may appear innocuous without prior knowledge, during its excavation archaeologists discovered a statue of Priapus (a Greek fertility god) with an, exaggerated, phallus; this statue is currently held in the Ephesus museum. In addition outside the brothel you might notice some carvings in the street’s marble, the most prominent being a foot. This is widely accepted to be an advertisement for the Brothel. The carvings feature: a cross (very faint), a woman, a heart, a money purse, a foot, a library, and a hole in the rock. This is interpreted as: at the crossroads, across from the library, a woman’s love can be purchased if you have enough money to fill this hole, and if your foot is at least this big. In addition to this ancient advertisement, there used to be a tunnel from the Celsus Library to the Brothel. Though no longer accessible, the tunnel and advertisement certainly paint a picture of a certain aspect of life in ancient Ephesus.

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