Analysis of Cipollino Verde marble wall decoration in Ephesos, Turkey, using geological reconstruction

Passchier C. W., Wex S., Ilhan S., de Kemp E., Surmelihindi G., GÜNGÖR T.

JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SCIENCE-REPORTS, vol.37, 2021 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 37
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2021.102992
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, Index Islamicus
  • Keywords: Archaeology, Cipollino Verde, Folding, Slab saw, Roman Empire, 3D visualization, SHEATH FOLDS, ROMAN
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


Slabs of Cipollino Verde, composed of layered and folded marble from Euboea in Greece, decorated the hall of a Roman town house in Ephesos, Turkey in the second century AD. After excavation, the fragmented slabs were restored. Preservation of the dowels in the walls from which the slabs were originally suspended allowed reconstruction of the order in which they had been placed on the walls. The pattern of folded layering in the slabs in turn allowed 3D structural geological reconstruction of the folds, and reconstruction of the arrangement of slabs in the marble block, from where they were serially sectioned, using a slab saw. Investigation of geological fold alignment in the block revealed that 23-47% of the marble was lost in sawing and polishing, close to modern values. Comparison of the sequence of slabs on the walls and in the original block reveals the decoration strategy for the Roman hall. Slabs were placed in the sequence in which they had been cut from the block in bookmatched fashion, with some rearrangement due to breakage of two slabs. Limited breakage was not due to sawing of slabs, but probably to the polishing process, or to transport of slabs. Analysis of ancient ornamental stone using geological 3D restoration techniques can provide important insights in the archaeology of stone working and trade.