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Coordinates: 39 ° 8 '  N , 27 ° 11'  E

Relief Map: Turkey

Pergamon ( ancient Greek τό Πέργαμον ‚das Pérgamon ' , more rarely ἡ Πέργαμος ‚ die Pérgamos' ; Latin Pergamum ; today Bergama ) was an ancient Greek city near the west coast of Asia Minor in today's Turkey , about 80 km north of Smyrna (today's İzmir ). During the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC BC Pergamon was the capital of the Pergamene Empire, which extended over large parts of western Asia Minor. Under the art-loving Attalid dynasty , who endeavored to create a new Athens , the city became one of the most important cultural centers of Hellenism . According to an ancient legend, the parchment named after Pergamon was invented in this city. In fact, Pergamon was a center of parchment production.

Pergamon was on the northern edge of a plain formed by the Kaïkos River (today's Bakırçay ). The buildings rise at the feet, on the slopes and on the plateau of the Acropolis , the core of which consists of an approximately 335 meter high table mountain -shaped massif made of andesite rock . The castle hill drops off very steeply to the north, east and west, while the south side forms a flatter transition to the plain over three natural ledges. To the west, the Selinus (now Bergamaçay ) flows past the Acropolis, the Ketios (now Kestelçay ) to the east .

Acropolis of Pergamon from the Asklepieion
Model of the ancient Acropolis of Pergamon in the
Pergamon Museum in Berlin


Historical map of the Acropolis of Pergamon

Pergamon is located on the northern edge of the Kaïkos plain in the historical Mysia landscape in northwestern Turkey. The Kaïkos, which has made a breakthrough into the surrounding mountains and hilly landscapes there, flows - initially in an east-west course - in a wide arc to the south-west. At the foot of the northern mountains between the rivers Selinus and Ketios, the castle hill rises to a height of 335 meters above sea ​​level . The distance to the sea is 26 kilometers, but the Kaïkos plain does not open freely to the sea, but is dominated by the Karadağ massif in front of it. This gives the landscape a strong inland character. Elaia , located at the mouth of the Kaïkos, was Pergamon's port in Hellenistic times. As on the rest of the west coast of Asia Minor, the climate is Mediterranean with a dry season from May to August.

Like the Kaïkos valley, which consists mainly of volcanic rock, in particular andesite , the castle hill is also formed as an eruptive stock of andesite. The massif is around one kilometer wide between Selinus and Ketios and around 5.5 kilometers long on the north-south extension. The almost table mountain-shaped mountain range consists of a broad base and a relatively small, flattened peak, the upper castle. The broad side facing Ketios, which breaks through between rocks there, drops off steeply, while the broad side facing the valley of Selinus is less rugged. When looking from the north to the massif, the peak rising above the base is easy to see. On the north side, the mountain forms a protruding spur about 70 meters wide. To the southeast of this promontory, known as the Queen's Garden , the mountain reaches its greatest height and suddenly breaks off to the east. Over a length of another 250 meters to the south, the upper castle remains very narrow at around 150 meters, before the massif widens in steps to the east and south, gently sloping to about 350 meters and then merges into the plain in the south-west.


Pre-Hellenistic period

The settlement of Pergamon can be proven for the archaic period, but the findings are small and are based mainly on finds of fragments of western imported ceramics of Eastern Greek and Corinthian provenance, dating from the late 8th century BC. Come from BC. In contrast, settlement as early as the Bronze Age cannot really be grasped, even if Bronze Age stone tools from the area are not missing. For the first time Pergamon is literary for the year 400/399 BC. BC, because the procession of the ten thousand, the so-called anabasis , ended in Pergamon . Xenophon , who calls the city Pergamos, handed over here in March 399 BC. The remnants of the Greek mercenary army - according to Diodorus about 5,000 men - to Thibron , who planned a campaign against Tissaphernes and Pharnabazos . At that time Pergamon was owned by the Gongyles family from Eretria and Xenophon was hospitably received by his widow Hellas. In 362 BC An Orontes, a satrap in Mysia, tried to achieve independence in Pergamon. Only with Alexander the Great did this area, and with him Pergamon, become independent of Persian supremacy . Traces of the pre-Hellenistic settlement of the 4th century BC Chr. Are rare, as in the following times the site was repeatedly redesigned and older buildings were mostly completely removed in the course of large-scale terracing. On the 4th century BC The temple of Athena can be traced back to the temple of Athens , but also in the Demeter sanctuary there are altar foundations and walls from the 4th century BC. Prove.

Hellenistic period

Coin portrait of Philetairus on a coin of Eumenes I.

At the time of the Diadochi , Pergamon, like the rest of Mysia, belonged to the domain of Lysimachus . He installed Philetairos as guardian of the castle, in which, with 9,000 talents, a large part of Lysimachos' war booty was deposited. With this treasure, Philetairus managed to get himself after the death of Lysimachus in 281 BC. To make independent and to establish a dynasty with the Attalids .

The Empire of Pergamon in Asia Minor 188 BC Chr.

The Attalids ruled Pergamon from 281 to 133 BC. Chr .: Philetairos 281-263; Eumenes I. 263-241; Attalus I 241-197; Eumenes II. 197-159; Attalus II. 159-138; Attalus III. 138-133. While Philetairus's dominion was still completely limited to the immediate vicinity of the city, Eumenes I extended the claim and territory sustainably. Especially after the Battle of Sardis in 261 BC. BC against Antiochus I , Eumenes appropriated the areas up to the coast and parts of the inland hinterland. The city thus became the center of the Pergamene Empire. Eumenes I did not yet accept the title of king. This was only accomplished by his successor Attalus I after he had defeated the Galatians , to whom Pergamon had to pay tribute under Eumenes I. Only now was there a Pergamene empire that was independent from all sides. Reached the height of its power and expansion.

Larger-than-life portrait, probably Attalus I, from the early reign of Eumenes II.

Since the reign of Attalus I, the Attalids have been among the most loyal supporters of Rome among the Hellenistic successor states . Under Attalus I they sided with Rome against Philip V of Macedon during the First and Second Macedonian Wars . With her 201 BC The Attalids, together with Rhodes, were one of the initiators of the Second War against Philip.

Also in the Roman-Syrian war against the Seleucids Antiochus III. Pergamon belonged to the Roman-Greek coalition and received after the Peace of Apamea in 188 BC Large parts of the Asia Minor empire of the Seleucids were awarded.

Eumenes II also supported Rome in the Third Macedonian-Roman War against Perseus . Rome did not thank its ally. On the basis of a rumor according to which Pergamon negotiated with Perseus during the war, Attalus II was supposed to replace Eumenes II as regent according to Rome's will, which the latter rejected. Pergamon then lost its privileged status in Rome and was not granted any further territories.

Under the brothers Eumenes II and Attalus II, Pergamon flourished, which was reflected in the monumental city expansion. The aim was to create a second Athens , an Athens of artistic and cultural activity , as it was in the time of Pericles and dominated large parts of Greek art. The two brothers testified most clearly to a trait of the Attalids that was rare in this form under the Hellenistic dynasties: a pronounced sense of family that knew neither competition nor intrigue. Eumenes II and his brother Attalus II, who was nicknamed Philadelphus, the brother-loving one, were even considered to be the embodiment of the legendary brother couple Cleobis and Biton .

Pergamon within the Roman province of Asia 90 BC Chr.

Attalus III. of Pergamon, the 133 BC Died without descendants, Pergamon passed on to the Romans. But they first had to fight the Aristonikos rebellion in order to take over their inheritance. This only succeeded in 129 BC. The Roman province of Asia emerged from the kingdom of Pergamon, and the city itself was declared free.

Roman time

Mithridates - portrait in the Louvre

In 88 BC Chr. Chose Mithridates VI. the city became his headquarters in the First Mithridatic War against Rome. The consequences of this war led to stagnation in the development and expansion of the city. After the end of the war, Pergamon lost all privileges and the status of a free city as a deserted city. Instead, the city was now subject to tribute, had to provide accommodation and food for the Roman troops, and the property of many residents was confiscated. Above all members of the Pergamene aristocracy, who had excellent relations with Rome, appeared as benefactors of the city with their own fortune, especially Diodoros Pasparos in the 1970s BC. He succeeded through diplomatic skill in alleviating or abolishing many of the new burdens. Numerous honorary inscriptions found in Pergamon testify to his work and his outstanding position in Pergamon at that time.

Roman provinces and client states in Asia Minor 63 BC Chr.

Nonetheless, Pergamon remained highly famous and the proverbial delights of Lucullus were imported goods from this very city, which received a conventus , the seat of a judicial district. Under Augustus the first imperial cult , a neocoria , was established in Pergamon in the province of Asia. Pliny the Elder considered Pergamum to be the most important of the provincial cities and the local aristocracy continued to produce outstanding men, in the 1st century AD about the two-time consul Aulus Iulius Quadratus . The city's pseudo-autonomous status was underlined by its own coinage. On the coins, however, there is often a bust of the Roma, which illustrates the subordination to Roman interests.

Bronze coin from Pergamon in Roman times, 40–60 AD.
Reverse side of the coin

But it was only under Trajan and his successors that a comprehensive redesign and redesign followed, the construction of a Roman "new town" at the foot of the Acropolis, and Pergamon was the first city in the province to receive a second neocoria from Trajan in 113/114 AD. Hadrian elevated the city to the rank of metropolis in AD 123 and distinguished it from its competitors Ephesus and Smyrna . In the middle of the 2nd century Pergamon was the largest city in the province alongside these two and had about 200,000 inhabitants. Caracalla gave the city a third neocoria, but its decline was already beginning. Finally, under the soldier emperors, Pergamon's economic power waned, its importance increasingly lost and was threatened by invasions by the Goths . There was limited economic recovery in late antiquity .

Byzantine period

In 663/664 AD Pergamon fell for the first time into the hands of the Islamic Arabs conquering Asia Minor (see Islamic Expansion ). And so can be in the Byzantine period, a retreat of the settlement on the castle hill, the strong with a 6 feet from spoils built wall was protected track. Pergamon, seat of one of the seven oldest main churches in Asia Minor, was founded in 716 by the Arabs under Maslama b. Abd-al-Malik conquered again, large parts of the population destroyed. The city was subsequently rebuilt and fortified after the Arabs abandoned their attempt to conquer Constantinople (717–718) .

Under Leo III. Pergamon belonged to the subject of Thrakesion , since Leo VI. on the subject of Samos . Although it suffered during the advance of the Turkish Seljuks into Western Anatolia after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, it remained a prosperous city under the Byzantine dynasty of the Comnenes . Under Isaac Angelus , the place became an archdiocese, after it was previously a suffragan of Ephesus. After Constantinople was conquered in the fourth crusade in 1204 , Pergamon became part of the Nicaea Empire .

When the later Emperor Theodoros II Laskaris visited Pergamon around 1250 , he was shown Galen's house , but he saw the city's theaters destroyed, and apart from the walls, to which he paid a lot of attention, only the vaults of the river remained Selinus is worth a mention. The magnificent buildings of the Attalids and the Romans were at this time only looted ruins. In 1345 Pergamon finally became part of the Ottoman Empire . For the further story see under Bergama .

Pergamon and the Myth

Founding of Pergamon: Depiction on the Telephos frieze of the Pergamon Altar

Pergamon, which traced its foundation to Telephus , son of Heracles , is not mentioned in the Greek myths and epics of the archaic and classical periods. Although the Telephos myth is already connected to the Mysia landscape in the Homeric area, where, following an oracle, he searched for his mother, he succeeded Teuthras as the foster son or son-in-law of Teuthras over the area between Pergamon and the mouth of the Kaïkos Teuthrania . He refused to participate in the Trojan War , and his son Eurypylos even fought on the side of the Trojans . Even in the tragic processing of the subject - such as the Mysoi of Aeschylus , the Aleades of Sophocles , Telephus or in the Eye of Euripides - Pergamon does not play a role.

It was not until the Attalids, namely Eumenes II., That Telephos became their mythical ancestor and founder of the city, whose legend relating to Pergamon was impressively told on the small frieze of the Pergamon Altar. Thus the Attalids traced their own descent back to Heracles and Attalus III. is even mentioned in a poem by Nikandros from Kolophon , Heraklesspross. With the appropriation of the myth, Teuthrania is also transfigured to the old name of Pergamon. The Telephos myth, however, was not completely adapted.

On the one hand, Eurypylos, from whom the dynastic line should have been derived , was not mentioned in the hymn , which was sung in honor of Telephus in the Asclepion , because of a blood guilt; on the other hand, he seems to have received no further attention. But the Pergamener made sacrifices to Telephos, and even the grave of his mother's eye was shown in Pergamon near Kaikos. Pergamon thus moved up into the Trojan saga, its rulers saw themselves as the descendants of those Arcadians who fought with Telephos against Agamemnon himself when he landed on Kaïkos believed he had already reached Troy and devastated the country.

On the other hand, the legend about the founding of the city was connected with another figure of the myth, with Pergamos , the hero and eponym of the city. He, too, belonged extensively to the Trojan saga, so he was a grandson of Achilles through his father Neoptolemus and his mother Andromache was the wife of Hector , son of Priam . Accompanied by his mother, he ended up in Mysia, where he is said to have killed the ruler of Teuthrania and given the city his name. He established a heroon for his mother there after her death. According to a less heroic version, Grynos, the son of Eurypylos, named a city ​​after him out of gratitude . These mythical connections to the founding of the city also seem to be late and were not made before the 3rd century BC. BC verifiable. Pergamos' role remained subordinate, even if he enjoyed a certain admiration: coin images, although not until Roman times, bore his image and in the city he owned a heroon. At the same time, he created another, also consciously staged, link to the Homeric world of legends. Mithridates VI., Who had shaken off the Sullan yoke of the city after the First Mithridatic War , could even be celebrated as the new Pergamos in Pergamon.

For the Attalids, however, the genealogical connection to Heracles, as had long been established by other Hellenistic dynasties, was apparently decisive: the Ptolemies derived directly from Heracles, the Antigonids took over Heracles at the latest with Philip V towards the end of the 3rd century BC. In their family tree and even the descendants of Apollo , the Seleucids , could come up with Heracles in their line of ancestors. All of this can only be understood against the background of the succession of Alexander , who, like his father, Philip II , was a descendant of the hero.

In the constructed appropriation of the myth, the Attalids thus stood entirely in the tradition of early Hellenistic dynasties, who wanted to consolidate their legitimacy through divine descent and increase their prestige. The inhabitants gladly took over this and let themselves be called Telephidai ( Τηλεφίδαι ), in poetic exaggeration Pergamon is handed down as Telephic City ( Τήλεφις πόλις ).

Research and excavation history

Christian Wilberg : excavation site of the Pergamon Altar . Drawing from 1879

The first reports about the post-antique Pergamon are available from the 13th century. Starting with Cyriacus of Ancona , travelers have repeatedly visited the place since the 15th century and published descriptions. It is worth mentioning the remarks by Thomas Smith, who traveled the Levant in 1668 and provided a very detailed account of Pergamon, to which the great travelers of the 17th century - Jacob Spon and George Wheler - could not add anything essential in their travel reports.

In the late 18th century, these journeys were increasingly driven by a scientific, especially ancient historical, thirst for research, embodied for example in the person of Marie-Gabriel Choiseul-Gouffier , traveler to Asia Minor and from 1784 to 1791 French ambassador to the Sublime Porte in Istanbul . At the beginning of the 19th century Charles Robert Cockerell provided a detailed report and Otto von Stackelberg important drawings. A really versatile representation with plans, elevations and views of the city and its ruins was only created by Charles Texier , who published it in the second volume of his Description de l'Asie mineure .

In 1864/65 the German engineer Carl Humann visited Pergamon for the first time. For the construction of the Pergamon – Dikili road , for the planning of which he undertook topographical studies, he returned in 1869 and began to deal more intensively with the remains of the city. A small expedition led by Ernst Curtius reached him there in 1871 . As a result of the brief, intensive investigation that has now been carried out, two fragments of a large frieze were sent to Berlin for appraisal and aroused a certain but no particular interest there. It is unknown who first associated these fragments with the mention of a great altar in Pergamon by Lucius Ampelius . But when the archaeologist Alexander Conze took over the management of the department for ancient sculptures at the Royal Museums in Berlin in 1877 , he soon launched an initiative to excavate and secure the associated monument, in which one now generally suspected the aforementioned altar.

The Lower Agora in 1902 during the excavation

As a result of these efforts, Carl Humann, who had spent the previous years doing minor investigations in Pergamon and in 1875, for example, discovered the architrave inscription of the Temple of Demeter, was commissioned with the work carried out on the Zeus altar until 1886. The reliefs found there were brought to Berlin with the approval of the Ottoman government , where the first Pergamon Museum was opened for them in 1907 . The work was continued by the initiator of the excavations, Alexander Conze, who aimed to uncover and explore the historical city and the castle hill as completely as possible. He was followed in the excavation epochs from 1900 to 1911 by the building researcher Wilhelm Dörpfeld , who owes important results and under whose direction the Lower Agora, the Attalos house and the gymnasium including the Demeter sanctuary were uncovered.

As a result of the First World War , the excavations were suspended and were only resumed in 1927 under the direction of Theodor Wiegand , who held this position until 1939. He focused on further exploration of the Oberburg, the Asklepieion and the Red Hall. The Second World War brought another interruption to research in Pergamon, which lasted until 1957. From 1957 to 1968 Erich Boehringer mainly worked on the Asklepieion, but also gained important insights into the lower town as a whole and devoted himself to surveys that covered the area around Pergamon. After a vacancy, Wolfgang Radt succeeded him as excavation manager in 1971 and, in accordance with the changed research interests, focused on the residential development of Pergamon, but also on technical issues such as the water supply of the city with its 200,000 inhabitants at weddings. His monument conservation projects were important for the preservation of the material legacies of Pergamon. Felix Pirson has been in charge of the excavations since 2006 .

Most of the finds from the Pergamon excavations were brought to the Pergamon Museum in Berlin until the First World War; a smaller part was taken to the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, which opened in 1891 . After the First World War, the Bergama Archaeological Museum was opened in 1936 and has been collecting the finds ever since.

Infrastructure and residential development

Pergamon is a good example of a grown city that also has a plan character. Philetairos transformed Pergamon from an archaic settlement into a fortified city. He or his successor, Attalos I, surrounded the upper castle, including the plateau that widened to the south, which supported the upper agora and parts of the residential development, with a wall; other residential buildings must have been below. Due to the expansion of the city, the streets were widened and the character of the city became more monumental. Under Attalus I, marginal changes were made to the Philetarian city. During the reigns of Eumenes II and Attalus II, which represented one of the most richly built sections in the history of Pergamon, the city expanded considerably. A new road network was laid out, a new city wall, which received a monumental gateway south of the Acropolis, the Eumenical Gate. The wall, provided with numerous gates, now surrounded the entire castle hill, not just the upper castle, and in the south-west it included the area up to the Selinus. In addition to numerous other public buildings, another market square was added to the city on the extended territory south of the Acropolis and in the east of the newly built high school. The south-eastern slope and the entire western slope were now settled and opened up by roads.

The city of Pergamon was influenced by an extreme hillside location. As a result, serpentines in the road layout were necessary in order to be able to climb the mountain as comfortably and quickly as possible. Extensive work on the rock and terracing was carried out for the construction of the structures and the layout of the markets . The effects of the growth were, however, overbuilding of older structures, as there was not enough space.

Regardless of this, a new beginning began in Roman times when a whole new city with all the necessary infrastructural facilities, with baths, theaters, stadiums and sanctuaries was planned to be built west of the Selinus. Unaffected by external threats, the Roman New Town was able to expand without restricting city walls.

Residential houses

Most of Pergamon's Hellenistic houses have in common the arrangement around a quite small, centrally located and roughly square courtyard, which is adjoined by rooms on one or two sides. The main rooms are often staggered in two rows on the north side of the courtyard. Vestibules that allow access to other rooms appear and open through a wide passage or column positions to the courtyard to the south. An exact north-south alignment of the plants was mostly not possible due to the topographical conditions and older buildings. The systems vary in terms of the size and arrangement of the rooms. This type of courtyard house has been widespread and increasingly binding since the Philetarian period at the latest, but standardization can be ruled out. Some complexes can be addressed as prostate houses and are comparable with similar facilities in Priene , while others have columned halls in front of the northern main rooms. For the latter in particular, two-storey buildings can be proven several times over by staircases. In the courtyards there were mostly cisterns that caught the rainwater from the inward sloping roofs. For the development under Eumenes II, a size of the apartment blocks of 35 × 45 m can be determined - albeit subject to strong fluctuations and adapted to the respective terrain.


With the beginning of the reign of Philetairus, Pergamon's urban activity was concentrated on the Acropolis. In the south of this area, the so-called "Upper Agora " developed over time . First a temple of Zeus was built in the reign of Attalus I. This was followed further north by the construction of a multi-storey building that probably served a market-like function. As the development of the plaza progressed, this building was demolished again, while the Upper Agora itself now increasingly took on mercantile functions, still under the special status of the Temple of Zeus. In the course of the eumenical expansion of the city, the mercantile character of the Upper Agora was further elaborated. Characteristics of this development are primarily the hall structures built under Eumenes II, the rear chambers of which were probably used for trade. In the west, the so-called west chamber, a building presumably used for market control, was also built. According to the concept of its redesign, the Upper Agora served both as an economic and as a representative center of the city from the eumenical period.

Due to the direct proximity of newly created important buildings, the redesign of the Athena Shrine and the Pergamon Altar, and the associated urban redesign, the design and the organizational principle of the Upper Agora were also subjected to a fundamental change. Its character became much more representative and was architecturally oriented towards the two new complexes, providing this support and framework, as the altar was free and without the columned halls on its terrace above the slope of the Acropolis, which is otherwise common in Pergamon .

The approximately 55 × 80 m "Lower Agora" was built under Eumenes II and was probably not subject to any major changes until late antiquity. As with the Upper Agora, the rectangular shape of the complex was adapted to the slope. The building had a total of three floors. Of these, the upper floor and the so-called main floor opened onto a central courtyard. The basement rooms, which are only available in the south and east due to the sloping terrain, opened onto the outside of the complex via a columned hall. The entire market complex ran over two levels with a large pillared courtyard in the middle, to which small sales rooms and rooms of various functions were connected.

Roads and bridges

Road surface in the residential city of Pergamon
Roman bridge of Pergamon

The course of the main road, which wound in serpentines up the mountain to the Acropolis, was characteristic for the street system of Pergamon . Shops and stores were on this main street. The subsurface of the main road consisted of andesite blocks that were up to 5 meters wide, 1 meter high and 30 centimeters deep. The road system was completed by a sewer system that led down the water from the road on the slope. As it was the most important street in the city, the wear and tear on the material was very high.

Philetairos had his city laid out from a pragmatic point of view. This approach was only discarded under Eumenes II and the urban layout now shows clear features of well thought-out planning. Contrary to earlier assumptions of an orthogonal street system, the area around the grammar school appears to have a fan-shaped arrangement of the street system, with the streets being up to four meters wide, apparently to enable an effective flow of traffic. In contrast, the Philetarian alley system seems unsystematic, but is still the subject of current research. If the terrain did not allow for a road layout due to rock formations, only small alleys were created as connecting paths. A general distinction must therefore be made between the large, wide streets ( Plateia ) and the small, narrow cross streets ( Stenopoi ).

The almost 200-meter-long bridge of Pergamon under the forecourt of the Red Hall , in the city center of Bergama, was built under Emperor Hadrian and is by far the largest river development in antiquity.

Water supply

The inhabitants of Pergamon were supplied with water through a well-functioning system. In addition to cisterns , the system also included nine water pipelines , seven of which were Hellenistic clay pipes and two were open canals of Roman design. The system delivered approximately 30,000 to 35,000 cubic meters per day.

The Madradağ pipeline was a clay pipeline with a diameter of 18 cm, which was laid out in the Hellenistic era and carried the water from a spring in the Madradağ Mountains at an altitude of 1,174 meters over a distance of 40 kilometers to the mountain with the city castle. Its technical-historical peculiarity was the design over the last few kilometers from the mountains through a roughly 200 m deep depression up to the Acropolis. The three-strand clay pipeline ended 3 km north of the castle hill, in front of the depression to be crossed, into a water chamber, which was provided with a double sedimentation basin. This container is 35 m higher than the summit of the castle hill. The line from there to the Acropolis was only one line. This circuit piece consisted of a pressure pipe made of lead , the maximum load 200 m water column was. The depression up to the castle hill could be overcome with the help of this closed pipeline. It worked as a communicating pipe , so that the water rose by itself to the outlet on the mountain due to the closed lead pipe .

Cults and Shrines

Numerous sanctuaries and temples adorned the cityscape of Pergamon, including the Athena sanctuary, the temple for Dionysus , the sanctuaries of Demeter and Hera , the Asclepius sanctuary located about 3 kilometers west of the city with its extensive area. The temenos for the ruler's cult was on the castle hill . In 29 BC The first imperial cult temple of the province Asia was built in Pergamon for Roma and Augustus . According to evidence of a 19/18 BC Chr. Pergamenischen Cistophoros , the temple had a six-column front on a five-tiered substructure, the frieze bore the dedicatory inscriptions to Roma and Augustus, the gables were crowned with palmettes . However, the schematic representation of the coins does not allow any further conclusions to be drawn about the appearance of the temple. The Traianeum, consecrated to Trajan, is also worth mentioning from Roman times. In addition, there were many smaller cult buildings whose assignment to a deity is mostly uncertain.

Zeus altar

Base of the Pergamon Altar

The most famous building is the Pergamon Altar, presumably consecrated to Zeus and Athena, the grid foundation of which is still in the area of ​​the ancient Upper City. The remains of the Pergamon frieze that originally adorned it can be seen in the Berlin Pergamon Museum, where the frieze panels that were brought to Germany at the time are incorporated in a partial reconstruction of the Pergamon altar.

The land required for its construction was artificially piled up and terraced, allowing the axes to be strictly aligned with the neighboring temple of Athena. The base of the almost square altar building, measuring around 36 × 33 meters , was decorated in high relief with a detailed depiction of the Gigantomachy , the battle of the Olympic gods against the giants . With a total length of 113 meters, the composition represents the second longest surviving frieze of antiquity, surpassed only by the depiction of the Panathenaic procession on the frieze of the Parthenon in Athens. Over a nearly 20 meters wide, far-reaching into the base and projections flanked staircase was reached on the umzogenen with columns superstructure, which opened behind a hall-like columns position at the end of the east as a large courtyard area. The courtyard walls bore another frieze, now the legend of Telephos, the son of Heracles and mythical founder of Pergamon. With a height of around 1.60 meters, this frieze remained significantly smaller than the 2.30 meter high frieze of the outer base zone.

Athena sanctuary

Athena sanctuary

Pergamon's oldest temple is an Athena sanctuary from the 4th century BC, a north-facing Doric peripterus of 6 × 10 columns with a cella staggered into two rooms , of which today only the approximately 12.70 meters × 21.80 meters large foundations remain are visible. With an intercolumnium 1.62 meters wide and only 0.75 meters in diameter of the 5.25 meter high columns, the column position for the time position of the temple is very light. This corresponds to the structure of the triglyphone in the entablature , which, contrary to the usual rhythm of two triglyphs and two metopes, has three of these elements each. The pillars of the temple were not fluted and still had bosses , whether as a deliberate incompletion or negligence cannot be decided.

The two-story pillared halls surrounding the temple on three sides were also built under King Eumenes II, as was the propylon in the south-east corner , the main parts of which are now in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. The balustrades on the upper floors of the north and east halls were decorated with weapon reliefs and thus alluded to the victories of Eumenes. In their construction, they mixed Ionic columns with a Doric triglyphone on the upper floor , which now had five triglyphs and metopes. In the area of ​​the sanctuary, Attalus I and Eumenes II erected their victory monuments, in particular the Galatian Atheme. The library of Pergamon is located in its northern portico .

Demeter Shrine

Demeter sanctuary from the east

The approximately 50 × 110 meter large Demeter sanctuary was on the middle ledge in the south of the castle hill. The sanctuary itself is old, its use can be traced back to the 4th century BC. Trace back to BC.

The sanctuary was entered from the east through a propylon, which opened onto a courtyard surrounded on three sides by porticos. In the middle of the western half of the Ionic Temple of Demeter rose, a simple, 6.45 m × 12.70 m large Ante temple , which at the time of Antoninus Pius received a vestibule in Corinthian order . The Hellenistic building, built from local materials, had a marble frieze decorated with buccranias and garlands. About 9.50 meters in front of the east-facing building was an altar about 7 meters wide and 2.30 meters deep. The temple and altar were erected by Philetairus and his brother Eumenes in honor of their mother Boa the goddess.

In the eastern courtyard area, in front of the northern columned hall, there are more than ten seating steps for the participants in the Demeter Mysteries. Around 800 mystics could find space here.

Hera sanctuary

Hera temple and sanctuary from the west

The sanctuary of Hera Basileia was north of the upper gymnasium terrace. Its layout consisted of two parallel terraces, the southern one about 107.40 meters, the northern one about 109.80 meters above sea level. The upper one carried the Hera temple, which opened to the south, in the middle, with a 6-meter-wide exedra in the west and a building whose function could not be determined in the east. The two terraces were connected to one another by a staircase made up of eleven steps in front of the temple front, around 7.5 meters wide.

The approximately 7 × 12 meter large temple rose on a three-tiered substructure and was formed as a four-column prostyle of the Doric order, the entablature of which was rhythmized with three triglyphs and metopes per yoke. If all the other buildings in the sanctuary were made of trachyte , the visible parts of the temple were made of marble or at least covered with marble. The cult image base inside the cella was used to set up three cult images.

The preserved remains of the architrave inscription identify the building as a temple of Hera Basileia, which was built by Attalus II.

Dionysus Temple

Temple of Dionysus at the north end of the theater terrace

The Attalids brought Dionysus, who was nicknamed Kathegemon in Pergamon , already in the last third of the 3rd century BC. They received special veneration and made him the main god of their dynasty. In the 2nd century BC BC Eumenes II probably had a temple of Dionysus built at the northern end of the theater terrace. The marble podium temple, raised 4.50 meters above the level of the theater terrace, was designed as an Ionic prostyle with four front pillars and two pillars lower vestibule and could be entered via a 25-step flight of stairs. Only a few remains of the Hellenistic building phase have survived. The vast majority of the building material that has been preserved comes from a renovation of the temple, which was probably carried out under Caracalla, but perhaps also under Hadrian.


Trajaneum in Pergamon

The temple for Trajan and Zeus Philios rose on the highest point of the castle hill. On a terrace prepared with vaulted structures, the temple rose in the middle on a 2.90 meter high podium. The temple itself was a peripteros of Corinthian order about 18 meters wide with 6 × 9 columns and two column positions between the ante . In the north, the area was closed off by a raised columned hall, while the east and west side were only limited by simple ashlar walls, but were replaced by columned halls in the Hadrianic era.

During the excavations, fragments of statues of Trajan and Hadrian, especially the portrait heads, and fragments of the cult statue of Zeus Philios were found in the rubble of the cella .

Red hall

Red hall and round buildings from the north

At the southern foot of the acropolis hill in the urban area of ​​Bergama, formerly embedded in the street system of the lower town, there is a sanctuary built under Hadrian, which is now called the Red Hall ( Turkish Kızıl Avlu ). This includes a 100 × 265 m walled Temenos with porticoes running around three sides , more than two thirds of which is built over by modern houses today. According to current research, it was a temple of the Egyptian gods, probably Serapis and Isis , but also a place of the imperial cult . The main building was a 60 × 26 m brick building, originally clad in marble, with surrounding two-storey porticos inside. In the center there were various water basins and a monumental, walkable statue, probably of Serapis. To the side of the main building are two domed round buildings over 16 m high, which probably also served cultic purposes. To the side of the main temple, in front of the round buildings, there is a courtyard on each side, also with a water basin and covered colonnades, the Egyptian columns having the shape of double caryatids , consisting of a male and a female god figure. In the Byzantine period a three-aisled basilica was built into the temple .

The Selinus (now Bergama Çayı), the city river of Pergamon, flows under the main courtyard to the west, domed by the Pergamon bridge .


The Asklepieion from the Roman theater

The cult of Asclepius was already practiced in Pergamon in the 4th century BC. And was initially hereditary in the family of a certain Archias, the founder of the cult. Under Eumenes II it was elevated to a state cult. Access to the Asklepieion was made possible by an 820-meter-long, splendid street, at least in its first part, if you had passed through a gate building that formed the entrance, when via tecta was vaulted.

The Asklepieion in its design known today can be traced back to an expansion in the time of Antoninus Pius. The Roman sanctuary was a courtyard surrounded by buildings and halls measuring 110 × 130 meters, with a large forecourt and a propylon in front of it in the east, where the grand avenue ended.

The Roman temple for Asklepios Soter or Zeus Soter Asklepios was located south of the propylon and thus on the edge of the courtyard area . The building is a smaller replica of the Pantheon in Rome . On the south-east corner of the area there was a two-storey round building that was used for the spa. It was connected to the cult center of the complex, the sacred, radioactive spring, by an approximately 80 meter long underground passage.

The south, west and north sides of the courtyard were lined with columned halls, to the north of the north hall and in its western area was a Roman theater, which with its 29 rows of marble seats could hold around 3,500 spectators.

Secular buildings

The relatively simple palaces of Attalos I and Eumenes II, grouped around peristyle complexes, with their nearby barracks and arsenals on the Acropolis, porticoed halls and public monuments belonged to the cityscape of Pergamon as well as the theater, a huge gymnasium complex, as well as numerous other facilities and a library that was world-famous at the time.


The hillside theater of Pergamon

The theater is well preserved , mostly from the Hellenistic era, which had a seating capacity of 10,000 spectators, with 78 rows of seats overcame 36 meters of altitude and thus possessed the steepest rising audience of all ancient theaters. Three Diazoma said belt courses divided viewers shell, the koilon , in ranks, the vertically narrow by 0.75 meters stairs were opened and the auditorium divided into six and seven wedges. Below the theater was a 247 meter long and up to 17.40 meter wide terrace, which rested on high retaining walls and was framed on the long sides by porticoes. Coming from the upper market, you could enter it through a gate to the south. There was no space on this terrace for a circular orchestra , as is to be expected for the Greek theater. Instead, if necessary, only a wooden stage building was erected , which was dismantled outside of the season. Thus, the line of sight along the terrace to the temple of Dionysus at the northern end, which was used for the whole staging, was not impaired. Only in the early 1st century BC A marble stage building was built. Other theaters date from Roman times, one in the Roman New Town and the other in the cult complex of Asclepius.


An extensive, in the 2nd century BC. The gymnasium was built on the southern slope of the Acropolis. The main entrance to the gymnasium was on the southeast corner of the lower of the three terraces of the facility. The small south-facing terrace had almost no structural facilities and is addressed as a boys' gymnastics club. The middle terrace was around 250 meters long and in its central area around 70 meters deep. On its north side was a two-story hall. To the east of the square rose a small prostyle temple of the Corinthian order. At the transition from the middle to the upper gymnasium terrace was a covered stadium , the so-called "basement stadium ".

The upper terrace, which is also the largest at 150 × 70 meters, was a courtyard surrounded by colonnades and other buildings, which alone measured around 36 meters × 74 meters. This complex, to be addressed as a palaestra , had a theater-shaped classroom behind its northern portico, probably from the Roman period, and a large ballroom in the middle. Other rooms of unclear function were accessible from the portico. In the west there was an Ionic temple facing south as the central sanctuary of the high school. The eastern area was built over by a thermal bath system in Roman times. Further Roman baths were built west of the Ionic temple.


The library of Pergamon was the second largest in the ancient Greek world after that of Alexandria and is said to have contained at least 200,000 scrolls. The location of the library building is not guaranteed. Since the excavations of the 19th century, it has mostly been recognized in an extension of the northern columned hall of the Athenabe district built under Eumenes II on the upper castle. Finds of inscriptions in the gymnasium with the mention of a library may indicate that the building is to be found there. The story handed down by Pliny and going back to Varros De bibliothecis libri III , according to which the parchment was invented in Pergamon, is probably to be referred to the area of ​​legend. According to the Octavian propaganda, Marc Anton gave away the library holdings to Cleopatra . Both the donation and the fire of the Alexandria library in 41 BC Chr., Whose holdings should be rebuilt through this donation, are controversial in their historicity.



Antiquities of Pergamon

The series of antiquities from Pergamon (de Gruyter, Berlin) is fundamental .

Further literature

Web links

Wiktionary: Pergamon  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Pergamon  - collection of images, videos and audio files


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  58. On the Demeter Shrine: Antiquities of Pergamon . XIII; older state of research: Gottfried Gruben: The temples of the Greeks . 3. Edition. Hirmer, Munich 1980, pp. 437-440.
  59. On the Hera Shrine: Antiquities of Pergamon . VI, pp. 102-110, panels I-II, IV-V, VI-VII, VIII, X-XI, XVIII, XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXV.
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  67. To the lower terrace: Antiquities of Pergamon . VI, pp. 5-6, 19-27.
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  69. To the middle terrace: Antiquities of Pergamon . VI, pp. 5, 28-43.
  70. To the upper terrace: Antiquities of Pergamon . VI, pp. 4, 43-79.
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  74. For discussion see: Hans Widmann : Production and distribution of the book in the Greco-Roman world . In: Archives for the history of the book industry . Volume 8, 1967, p. 556.
  75. Plutarch , Antonius 58, 5.
  76. For the library of Pergamon and its history see also: Wolfram Hoepfner : The library of Eumenes' II. In Pergamon . In: Wolfram Hoepfner (Hrsg.): Ancient libraries . Zabern, Mainz 2002, ISBN 3-8053-2846-X , pp. 31-38; Volker M. Strocka : Once more about the Pergamon library . In: Archäologischer Anzeiger . 2000, pp. 155-165.
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