Letter from John Turtle Wood to John Winter Jones, 22nd December 1868

Letter from John Turtle Wood to John Winter Jones, 22nd December 1868  (1868) 
by John Turtle Wood

This handwritten letter, addressed to John Winter Jones details the recommencement of archaeological excavations at Ephesus.


December 22nd 1868


I have the honor to Report that I recommenced my Excavations of Ephesus on the 29th of October, and have continued them without intermission up to the present time. I have had great difficulty in attaining the number of labourers I wished to employ and have only succeeded hitherto in getting together about 30 men. The cause of this difficulty is the utter prostration of the labouring classes by the annually unhealthy season. I have myself been laid up with fever for 10 days since I commenced my work here, and I have had as many as 5 men ill at the same time.

Notwithstanding these drawbacks, and difficulties, I have succeeded in opening up and exploring more than 1000 feet of the way leading northward from the Magnesian Gates, along the whole length of which I have found the pieces of the Portico which, I presume, may be that built by Damianus, as described by Philostratus. This Portico has fairly led me on to the Ground demonstrated on the Plan submitted to the Trustees, as that upon which the Temple of Diana might have stood. For a distance of more than 700 feet of the way at present opened up, there is a continuous line of tombs and sarcophagi which appear to have been substituted for the pieces of the Portico for a considerable length on the East side while those on the West side remain intact sarcophagi being placed between them.

The original pavement of the road is about 11 feet below the present surface for about 600 feet. The accumulation is chiefly owing to the repairing and making good of the road for many centuries after its original formation as I find it made up to contain 3 feet of the present surface, to cut through this has in many places been a work of time and hard labour. I have been careful to clear only the eastern or outer side of the way leaving the gaps unexplored wide enough to admit of a road sticking out eastward which might lead to the Temple. Most of the tombs laid bare have inscribed tablets and about 20 sarcophagi have been discovered, all of which are inscribed, copies of the most interesting of these inscriptions I herewith forward you, and I should feel obliged if you will inform me which of the tablets you would wish me to remove and put in store for the Museum.

I will not fail to report immediately anything interesting that may occur in the course of any explorations, or any discovery which may seem likely to clear up the question as to the site of the Temple. My whole force is employed in this particular work agreeable to my written instructions.

I have the honor to be
Your obedient Servant
J. T. Wood

John Winter Jones Esqu

Principal Librarian
British Museum