Pergamon

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This article is about the ancient Greek city. For the nearby modern city of Turkey, see Bergama. For some mythological and Bible uses, see Pergamus. For other uses, see Pergamon (disambiguation).
Pergamon
τὸ Πέργαμον (Ancient Greek)
Pergamon - 01.jpg
The reconstructed Temple of Trajan at Pergamon.
Pergamon is located in Turkey
Pergamon
Shown within Turkey
Alternate name Pergamum
Location Bergama, Izmir Province, Turkey
Region Aeolis
Coordinates 39°07′57″N 27°11′03″E / 39.13250°N 27.18417°E / 39.13250; 27.18417Coordinates: 39°07′57″N 27°11′03″E / 39.13250°N 27.18417°E / 39.13250; 27.18417
Type Settlement
Area 90 ha (220 acres)
History
Cultures Greek, Roman
Associated with Epigonus, Sosus of Pergamon, Aelius Nicon, Galen
Site notes
Condition Ruined
Ownership Public
Public access Yes
Official name: Pergamon and its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii, iii, iv, vi
Designated 2014 (38th session)
Reference No. 1457
Region Europe and North America

Pergamon /ˈpɜrɡəmən/ or /ˈpɜrɡəmɒn/ or Pergamum /ˈpɜrɡəməm/ (Ancient Greek: τὸ Πέργαμον, to Pergamon, or ἡ Πέργαμος, hē Pergamos) was an ancient Greek city in Aeolis, currently located 26 kilometres (16 mi) from the Aegean Sea on a promontory on the north side of the river Caicus (modern-day Bakırçay). Today, the main sites of ancient Pergamon are to the north and west of the modern city of Bergama in Turkey.

Some[who?] ancient authors regarded it as a colony of the Arcadians, but the various origin stories all belong to legend. The Greek historians reconstructed a complete history for it due to confusion with the distant Teuthrania.[1] It became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon during the Hellenistic period, under the Attalid dynasty, 281–133 BC. Pergamon is cited in the Book of Revelation as one of the seven churches of Asia.

History[edit]

Antiquity[edit]

Xenophon provides the earliest surviving documentary mention of Pergamon.[2] Captured by Xenophon in 399 and immediately recaptured by the Persians, it was severely punished in 362 after a revolt. It did not become important until Lysimachus, King of Thrace, took possession, 301 BC, but soon after his lieutenant Philetaerus enlarged the town, the Kingdom of Thrace collapsed and it became the capital of the new kingdom of Pergamon which Philetaerus founded in 281, beginning the Attalid dynasty. In 261 he bequeathed his possessions to his nephew Eumenes I (263-241 BC), who increased them greatly, leaving as heir his cousin Attalus I (241-197 BC).[1]

The Kingdom of Pergamon (colored olive), shown at its greatest extent in 188 BC

The Attalids became some of the most loyal supporters of Rome in the Hellenistic world. Under Attalus I (241–197 BC), they allied with Rome against Philip V of Macedon, during the first and second Macedonian Wars, and again under Eumenes II (197–158 BC), against Perseus of Macedon, during the Third Macedonian War. For their support against the Seleucids, the Attalids were rewarded with all the former Seleucid domains in Asia Minor.

As a consequence of its rise to power, the city expanded greatly. Until 188 BC, it had not grown significantly since its founding by Philetaerus, and covered circa 21 hectares (52 acres). After this year, a massive new city wall was constructed, 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) long and enclosing an area of approximately 90 hectares (220 acres).[3]

The Attalids ruled with intelligence and generosity. Many documents survive showing how the Attalids supported the growth of towns by sending in skilled artisans and by remitting taxes. They allowed the Greek cities in their domains to maintain nominal independence. They sent gifts to Greek cultural sites like Delphi, Delos, and Athens. They defeated the invading Celts. They remodeled the Acropolis of Pergamon after the Acropolis in Athens. When Attalus III (138–133 BC) died without an heir in 133 BC, he bequeathed the whole of Pergamon to Rome in order to prevent a civil war.

Roman[edit]

Not everyone in Pergamon accepted Rome's rule. Aristonicus, who claimed to be Attalus' brother as well as the son of Eumenes II, an earlier king, led a revolt among the lower classes with the help of Blossius. The revolt was put down in 129 BC, and Pergamon was divided among Rome, Pontus, and Cappadocia.

Pergamon was briefly the capital of the Roman province of Asia, before the capital was transferred to Ephesus.

After a slow decline, the city was favoured by several imperial initiatives under Hadrian (117 - 138). It was granted the title of metropolis and as a result of this an ambitious building programme was carried out: massive temples, a stadium, a theatre, a huge forum and an amphitheatre were constructed. In addition, at the city limits the shrine to Asclepius (the god of healing) was expanded into a lavish spa.

The Sanctuary of Asclepius grew in fame and was considered one of the most famous therapeutic and healing centers of the Roman world. Galen, after Hippocrates the most famous physician of antiquity, was born at Pergamon and received his early training at the Asclepeion.

Pergamon reached the height of its greatness under Roman Imperial rule and was home to about 200,000 inhabitants.

The Library of Pergamon was renowned, and second only to the Library of Alexandria, although not approaching Alexandria in scholarship.

The city was an early seat of Christianity and was granted a bishopric by the second century. Pergamon is mentioned in the Book of Revelation, as a dwelling place of Satan and a location of his throne, and that an early bishop named Antipas was martyred there.[4]

The city suffered badly during the third century and was badly damaged by an earthquake in 262 and was sacked by the Goths shortly after.

Anatolia was invaded by the Persian Sassanid Empire in c.620 and after the Persians were driven out by Byzantine forces, Pergamon was rebuilt on a much smaller scale by Emperor Constans II.

Pergamon was sacked by the armies of Maslama ibn Abd al-Malik on their way to the siege of Constantinople in 717.

Middle Ages[edit]

With the defeat of the Byzantine army at the Battle of Manzikert, the Seljuk Turks were effectively in control of all of Anatolia, but they withdrew to central and eastern Anatolia to consolidate their gains as the Sultanate of Rum and Pergamon returned to Byzantine control. The decline of the Sultanate of Rum in the late 12th century saw the rise of the Anatolian beyliks and with the continuing weakness in the Byzantine Empire, and the expansion of the beyliks, Pergamon was absorbed into the baylik of Karasids/Karası by 1336. Competition among the bayliks resulted in the takeover of the baylik of Karasids/Karası by the Ottoman Emirate - the forerunner of the Ottoman Empire - in 1357.

The Ottoman Sultan Murad III had two large alabaster urns transported from the ruins of Pergamon and placed on two sides of the nave in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.[5]

Main sights[edit]

Upper Acropolis[edit]

The Great Altar of Pergamon, on display in the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin, Germany.
Model of the Acropolis in the Pergamon museum in Berlin.
Sketched 19th century reconstruction of ancient Pergamon.
View of Acropolis from Sanctuary of Asclepion.

The Great Altar of Pergamon is in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin. The base of this altar remains on the upper part of the Acropolis. It was perhaps this altar, believed to be dedicated to Zeus, that John of Patmos referred to as "Satan's Throne" in his Book of Revelation (Revelation 2:13). A smaller frieze on a wall inside the Altar of Pergamon depicted the life of Telephus, son of Heracles and legendary founder of Pergamon.[6]

Other notable structures still in existence on the upper part of the Acropolis include:

  • The Hellenistic Theater with a seating capacity of 10,000. This had the steepest seating of any known theater in the ancient world.[7]
  • The Sanctuary of Trajan (also known as the Trajaneum)
  • The Sanctuary of Athena
  • The Library of Pergamum
  • The Royal palaces
  • The Heroön - a shrine where the kings of Pergamon, particularly, Attalus I and Eumenes II, were worshipped.[8]
  • The Temple of Dionysus
  • The Upper Agora
  • The Roman baths complex
  • Diodorus Pasporos heroon
  • Arsenals

Pergamon's library on the Acropolis (the ancient Library of Pergamum) was the second best in the ancient Greek civilization.[9] When the Ptolemies stopped exporting papyrus, partly because of competition and shortages, the Pergamenes invented a new substance to use in codices, called pergaminus or pergamena (parchment) after the city. This was made of fine calfskin, a predecessor of vellum. The library at Pergamom was believed to contain 200,000 volumes, which Mark Antony later gave to Cleopatra as a wedding present.[10]

The site is today easily accessible by the Bergama Acropolis Gondola from the base station in northeastern Bergama.

Lower Acropolis[edit]

The lower part of the Acropolis has the following structures:

  • the Upper Gymnasium
  • the Middle Gymnasium
  • the Lower Gymnasium
  • the Temple of Demeter
  • the Sanctuary of Hera
  • the House of Attalus
  • the Lower Agora and
  • the Gate of Eumenes

At foot of Acropolis[edit]

Sanctuary of Asclepius[edit]

Three kilometers south of the Acropolis at (39 7' 9" N, 27 9' 56" E), down in the valley, there was the Sanctuary of Asclepius (also known as the Asclepium), the god of healing. The Ascelpium was approached along an 820 meter colonnaded sacred way. In this place people with health problems could bathe in the water of the sacred spring, and in the patients' dreams Asclepius would appear in a vision to tell them how to cure their illness. Archeology has found lots of gifts and dedications that people would make afterwards, such as small terracotta body parts, no doubt representing what had been healed. Galen, the most famous doctor in the ancient Roman Empire and personal physician of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, worked in the Ascelpium for many years.[11] Notable extant structures in the Asclepium include:

  • the Roman theater
  • the North Stoa
  • the South Stoa
  • the Temple of Asclepius
  • a circular treatment center (sometimes known as the Temple of Telesphorus)
  • a healing spring
  • an underground passageway
  • a library
  • the Via Tecta (or the Sacred Way, which is a colonnaded street leading to the sanctuary) and
  • a propylon

Reconstruction of ancient Pergamon.

Serapis Temple[edit]

Pergamon's other notable structure is the great temple of the Egyptian gods Isis and/or Serapis, known today as the "Red Basilica" (or Kızıl Avlu in Turkish), about one kilometer south of the Acropolis at (39 7' 19" N, 27 11' 1" E). It consists of a main building and two round towers within an enormous temenos or sacred area. The temple towers flanking the main building had courtyards with pools used for ablutions at each end, flanked by stoas on three sides. At this temple in the year 92 Saint Antipas, the first bishop of Pergamum ordained by John the Apostle, was a victim of an early clash between Serapis worshipers and Christians. An angry mob is said to have burned Saint Antipas alive inside a Brazen Bull incense burner, which represented the bull god Apis.[12] In the 1st century AD, the Christian Church at Pergamon inside the main building of the Red Basilica was one of the Seven Churches to which the Book of Revelation was addressed. Revelation 2:12. The forecourt is still supported by the 193 m wide Pergamon Bridge, the largest bridge substruction of antiquity.[13]

Inscriptions[edit]

Greek inscriptions discovered at Pergamon include the rules of the town clerks, Lex de astynomis Pergamenorum, which has added to understanding of Greek municipal texts, including such mundane examples as providing an early set of rules for maintaining public lavatories, aphedron.[citation needed]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pergamus". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. 
  2. ^ Xenophon, Anabasis 7.8.8; Hellenica 3.1.6.
  3. ^ Errington, R. Malcolm (2008). A History of the Hellenistic World: 323–30 BC. Blackwell History of the Ancient World 13. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 9781444359596. 
  4. ^ Revelation 2:13
  5. ^ E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913–1936 - Page 526
  6. ^ Tucker, pp. 28–29.
  7. ^ [1] accessed September 24, 2007
  8. ^ Bergama (Pergamum)-Akhisar (Thyatira) accessed September 24, 2007
  9. ^ after that of Alexandria (Royal Library of Alexandria)
  10. ^ Kekeç 1989, p. 40.
  11. ^ Tucker, p. 36.
  12. ^ Tucker, p. 34.
  13. ^ Grewe & Özis 1994, pp. 350, 352

References[edit]

  • Grewe, Klaus; Özis, Ünal (1994). "Die antiken Flußüberbauungen von Pergamon und Nysa (Türkei)". Antike Welt (in German) 25 (4): 348–352. 
  • Hansen, Esther V. (1971). The Attalids of Pergamon. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press; London: Cornell University Press Ltd. ISBN 0-8014-0615-3.
  • Kekeç, Tevhit. (1989). Pergamon. Istanbul, Turkey: Hitit Color. ISBN 9789757487012.
  • Kosmetatou, Elizabeth (2003) "The Attalids of Pergamon," in Andrew Erskine, ed., A Companion to the Hellenistic World. Oxford: Blackwell: pp. 159–174. ISBN 1-4051-3278-7.
  • McEvedy, Colin (2012). Cities of the Classical World. Penguin Global
  • Nagy, Gregory (1998). "The Library of Pergamon as a Classical Model," in Helmut Koester, ed., Pergamon: Citadel of the Gods. Harrisburg PA: Trinity Press International: 185-232.
  • Nagy, Gregory (2007). "The Idea of the Library as a Classical Model for European Culture," http://chs.harvard.edu/publications.sec/online_print_books.ssp/. Center for Hellenic Studies
  • Tucker, Jack (2012). Innocents Return Abroad: Exploring Ancient Sites in Western Turkey. ISBN 9781478343585. 
  • Xenophon. Xenophon in Seven Volumes, Carleton L. Brownson. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA; William Heinemann, Ltd., London. vol. 1. 1918, vol. 2. 1921, vol 3. 1922.

External links[edit]