In our scholarly perception of the urban development of Ephesos, the period of Attalid rule between 188 and 133 BC has so far been of little concern. While literary and epigraphic sources suggest that the city came to be a major administrative centre for the Attalid state, the archaeological evidence available until now is comparatively sparse. Recent research at the western slope of Mount Panayırdağ, around the great theatre of the city, adds considerably to our knowledge of the structural and architectural development of Ephesos from the 2nd century BC onward.
A key monument for our understanding of the history and structure of this city district is a prestigious townhouse which takes up a commanding position above the theatre. The building was in use from the 2nd century BC to the early 7th century AD and was reminiscent of contemporary palace architecture during each of its main phases. Its setting took thorough account of the surrounding urban landscape in order to create particular spatial relations and visual perspectives. While earlier studies on the urban development of Ephesos postulated that the cityscape was monumentalized only in the Augustan period, the new evidence suggests that already the Hellenistic townhouse was part of a carefully coordinated building programme which fundamentally changed the urban topography.
Against the background of the historical development of Ephesos, there is much reason to assume that the new image of the city was designed according to a particular political strategy. The same may be true for huge construction activities which remodelled the city district above the theatre during the first half of the 2nd century AD. The presentation shall put up for discussion whether we may consider the townhouse one of the few excavated examples of a Hellenistic governor’s palace that continued to be used by the Roman administration. The discussed evidence may add to the debate on how political and ideological power was displayed by means of architecture and town-planning.