On July 25, 2003 Janet Crisler landed in Turkey with the goal of building a library and in 2006 her dream was realized when the Crisler Library at Ephesos (CLE) opened its doors in Selçuk, three kilometers from ancient Ephesos, one of the most important Hellenistic and Roman sites in the world. CLE started with Mr. Crisler’s book collection and early manuscript pages dating to the 1500s. Today, it has a growing collection of over 5,000 books, associations with the top Ephesos scholars, study programs and meeting facilities, and is becoming a destination for the study of Ephesos, from prehistoric to modern times. It is the only center of its kind adjacent to an ancient site in the western Aegean.
The Crisler Library at Ephesos (CLE), an American 501(c)(3) organization, was founded by Janet V. Crisler in 1999 to honor her late husband, B. Cobbey Crisler, Near East scholar and lecturer, through archaeology and manuscript preservation.
The programs at CLE provide on-site research resources, education, training and a platform for dialogue, as well as promote cross-cultural and cross-borders understanding, for its target audience is an international one composed of university students, youth, scholars and interested adults from Turkey, the United States, Europe and the Middle East. To date, over 100 university students have participated in the programs held in this country where the cultures of East and West meet. The students have commented, in their evaluations, on the excellence of the academic programs and on the opportunity to learn from the experts on Ephesos as well as to engage with students from other countries. It has been a life-changing experience for many.
Mission Statement: To promote scholarship, research and education in order to foster a deeper understanding of the ancient history of Asia Minor by providing a library in Ephesus, Turkey.
Background: In 2002, the Crislers’ longtime friend Professor David Noel Freedman, member of the original translation committee of the Dead Sea Scrolls, urged Mrs. Crisler to establish a presence in Turkey and continue there with her husband’s work. She had the background to do this, as a partner in her husband’s work and her activity in the archaeology community, including as a member and trustee of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem and member of the excavation team of Herod the Great’s Port City of Caesarea Maritima.
Turkey was selected for the library because of Mr. Crisler’s keen interest in early Roman archaeology in Asia Minor and in its historic development as it impacted western world culture and development. He had given some of his most memorable talks at the great sites throughout Turkey (ancient Asia Minor) and had also made a significant discovery at Ephesos in 1978 of a graffiti menorah on the steps of the Celsus Library, as part of a wider project in Greece and Turkey for evidence of the early first-century Jewish diaspora. This graffiti was the only lithic evidence at that time of the existence of a Jewish community at Ephesos. For additional background about Mr. Crisler and his discovery, see the B. Cobbey Crisler Biography and Crisler Discovers Celsus Menora.
Development of CLE: With the support and guidance of the CLE Board of Trustees, a Scholars Advisory Board, and an International Advisory Board of individuals with expertise and businesses in Turkey (see the Governance page), Mrs. Crisler, Founder and President, built the library and is developing its programs to fulfill CLE’s mission. Cahit Kaya is CLE’s Manager at the library. The Crisler Library at Ephesos has received funding support from individual donors and foundations. For program participants, it has outreached to universities in the United States, Canada, Europe and Turkey and to the foreign schools of classical studies in Athens. It has built relationships with museums, lecturers and archaeologists, including those who excavated, restored and published on the major monuments at Ephesos.