Brothel Advertisement at Ephesus - Atlas Obscura

Brothel Advertisement at Ephesus

Carvings in Turkey's Marble Road may have directed ancient Romans to a hidden brothel. 


What may be the world’s oldest advertisement, it’s fitting that this carving in the Marble Way of the ancient Roman city marketed the world’s oldest profession.

Dating back to the first century, the Marble Road is the distinguished road that made its way by the agora to the library, the second largest in the Roman Empire. Should the ancient scholars find themselves in need of a break, there also just happened to be a hidden brothel across the way, through an underground passage.

The brothel seems to have been hidden, but it was certainly no secret, as this advertisement shows. The carving features an image of a cross, a woman, a heart, a foot, a money purse, and a library, plus a hole dug into the rock.

One interpretation of the carvings is as follows: up at the crossroads, on the left, you’ll find women whose love can be purchased. But please, only stop in if your foot is at least this big, young men, and you have enough coins to fill this hole. Otherwise, we kindly direct you to the library on the right. At least they suggested a more enriching experience for those who were too young to enter the brothel. 

Know Before You Go

On the Marble Road, within sight of the Library.

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