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Coordinates: 39° 8′  N , 27° 11′  E

Relief map: Turkey

Pergamon ( Ancient Greek τό Πέργαμον 'the Pérgamon' , more rarely ἡ Πέργαμος 'the Pérgamos' ; Latin Pergamum ; today Bergama ) was an ancient Greek city near the west coast of Asia Minor in modern-day Turkey , about 80 km north of Smyrna (modern-day İzmir ). During the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. Pergamon was the capital of the Pergamenian Empire, which extended over large parts of western Asia Minor. Under the art-loving Attalid dynasty , which strove to create a new Athensto create, 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 lay on the northern edge of a plain formed by the river Kaikos (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 a mesa-like massif of andesite rock about 335 meters high . The castle hill drops very steeply to the north, east and west, while the south side forms a flatter transition to the plain via three natural drops. The Selinus (today Bergamaçay ) flows west through the city past the Acropolis, and the Ketios (today Kestelçay ) flows to the east.

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


Historical map of the Acropolis of Pergamon

Pergamum is located on the northern edge of the Kaikos Plain in the historical region of Mysia in north-west Turkey. The Kaïkos, which has made a breakthrough in the surrounding mountains and hilly landscapes, flows - initially east-west - in a wide arc to the south-west. At the foot of the mountains to the north, 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 Kaikos plain does not open freely to the sea, but is dominated by the Karadağ massif in front of the opening. This gives the landscape a strong inland character. Elaia , located at the mouth of Kaikos, was the port of Pergamum in Hellenistic times. Like 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, especially andesite , the castle hill is also formed as an igneous stock of andesite. The massif is about one kilometer wide between Selinus and Ketios and about 5.5 kilometers long in the north-south extension. The almost table mountain-shaped massif consists of a broad base and a relatively small flattened peak, the upper castle. The broadside facing Ketios, which breaks through the rocks there, falls off steeply, while the broadside facing the valley of Selinus is less precipitous. Looking at the massif from the north, the peak rising above the base is clearly visible. On the north side, the mountain forms a protruding spur about 70 meters wide. Southeast of this promontory, called the Garden of the Queen , the mountain reaches its greatest height and there abruptly breaks off to the east. Over a further 250 meters to the south, the upper castle remains very narrow at around 150 metres, before the massif widens in steps to the east and south, sloping more gently to around 350 meters and then transitions into the plain towards the south-west.


Pre-Hellenistic period

The settlement of Pergamum can certainly be proven for the Archaic period, but the findings are few and are based primarily on finds of fragments of western imported pottery of East Greek and Corinthian provenance, which date from the late 8th century BC. come from. In contrast, a settlement as early as the Bronze Age cannot be properly identified, even if Bronze Age stone tools from the area are not missing. For the first time Pergamon is mentioned in literature for the year 400/399 BC. called because the procession of ten thousand, the so-called Anabasis , ended in Pergamon . Xenophon , naming the city of Pergamos, surrendered here in March 399 BC. the remains of the Greek mercenary army - according to Diodorus around 5,000 men - to Thibron , who was planning a campaign against Tissaphernes and Pharnabazos . At that time Pergamum was in the possession of the family of Gongyles from Eretria and Xenophon was hospitably received by his widow Hellas. In the year 362 BC an Orontes, 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 rule . Traces of the pre-Hellenistic settlement of the 4th century BC. Chr. are rare, since in the following times the area was repeatedly radically redesigned and older buildings were usually completely removed in the course of large-scale terracing. To the 4th century B.C. The temple of Athena , for example , can be traced back to B.C., but altar foundations and walls of the 4th century B.C. can also be found in the Demeter sanctuary . prove.

Hellenistic period

Effigy of Philetairus on a coin of Eumenes I.

At the time of the Diadochi , Pergamon, like the rest of Mysia, belonged to the dominion of Lysimachus . He appointed Philetairos to guard the castle in which a large part of Lysimachus' spoils of war , 9,000 talents , was deposited. With this treasure Philetairos managed to recover after the death of Lysimachus in 281 BC. to make them independent and establish their own dynasty with the Attalids .

The kingdom of Pergamum in Asia Minor 188 BC. Chr.

The Attalids ruled Pergamum from 281 to 133 BC. BC: Philetairus 281–263; Eumenes I. 263–241; Attalus I. 241-197; Eumenes II. 197-159; Attalus II. 159-138; Attalus III. 138-133. While Philetairos' dominion was still entirely limited to the immediate vicinity of the city, Eumenes I extended his claims and territory over the long term. Especially after the battle of Sardis in 261 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 Pergamenian 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 Eumenes I was obliged to pay tribute to Pergamum. Only then was there a Pergamenian kingdom that was independent from all sides. reached the peak of its power and expansion.

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

The Attalids have been among the most loyal supporters of Rome among the Hellenistic successor states since the reign of Attalus I. Under Attalus I they sided with Rome against Philip V of Macedon during the First and Second Macedonian Wars . With her 201 B.C. When the request for help against Philip V was sent to Rome, the Attalids, together with Rhodes, were one of the triggers of the Second War against Philip.

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

Eumenes II also supported Rome in the Third Macedonian-Roman War against Perseus . Rome did not thank its ally. Based on a rumor that Pergamum negotiated with Perseus during the war, Rome wanted Attalos II to replace Eumenes II as regent, which he rejected. As a result, Pergamon lost its privileged status in Rome and was not granted any further territories.

Under the brothers Eumenes II and Attalos II, Pergamon experienced its heyday, which was reflected in the monumental expansion of the city. The goal was to create a second Athens , an Athens of artistic and cultural bustle, as it was in Pericles ' time and dominated large parts of Greek art. The two brothers showed most strongly an Attalid trait rare in this form among the Hellenistic dynasties: a strong sense of family that knew neither competition nor intrigue. Eumenes II and his brother Attalos II, who was nicknamed Philadelphos, the brother-lover, were even considered to be the embodiment of the legendary brothers Kleobis and Biton .

Pergamum within the Roman province of Asia 90 BC Chr.

Attalus III. of Pergamum, who died in 133 B.C. died without issue, Pergamon bequeathed to the Romans. But first they had to put down the uprising of Aristonikos in order to be able to claim 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 the year 88 BC B.C. chose Mithridates VI. the city as his headquarters in the First Mithridatic War against Rome. The consequences of this war led to a stagnation in the development and expansion of the city. After the end of the war, as a seceded city, Pergamon lost all privileges and the status of a free city. Instead, the city was now tributary, had to bear the lodging and food of the Roman troops and the property of many residents was confiscated. Above all, members of the Pergamene aristocracy, who maintained excellent relations with Rome, appeared as benefactors of the city with their own fortune, especially Diodoros Pasparos in the 70s BC. Through diplomatic skill, he succeeded 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 this time.

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

Nevertheless, Pergamon remained highly famous and the proverbial pleasures 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 distinguished men, such as the twice consul Aulus Iulius Quadratus in the 1st century AD . The city's pseudo-autonomous status was underscored by its own coinage. However, a bust of the Roma is often found on the coins, which illustrates their 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 new 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 123 AD, distinguishing it from its competitors Ephesus and Smyrna . In the middle of the 2nd century Pergamum was the largest city in the province after these two and had about 200,000 inhabitants. Caracalla gave the city a third neocoria, but decline was already beginning. Finally, under the soldier -emperors, the economic power of Pergamon dwindled, which visibly lost its importance and was threatened by incursions by the Goths . In late antiquity there was a limited economic recovery.

Byzantine period

In AD 663/664 Pergamon fell for the first time into the hands of the Islamic Arabs conquering Asia Minor (cf. Islamic Expansion ). And so, in Byzantine times, a withdrawal of settlements to the castle hill, which was protected by a 6 meter thick wall made of spolia , can be traced. Pergamum, 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 gave up their attempt to conquer Constantinople (717–718) .

Under Leo III. Pergamon belonged to the Thrakesion theme , since Leo VI. on Samos . Though it suffered during the Seljuk Turks' advance into western Anatolia after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, it remained a prosperous city under the Byzantine Comnene dynasty . Under Isaac Angelos , the place became an archbishopric, having previously been a suffragan of Ephesus. After the conquest of Constantinople in 1204 in the Fourth Crusade , Pergamum became part of the Empire of Nicaia .

When around 1250 the future emperor Theodoros II Laskaris visited Pergamon, he was shown Galen's house , but he saw the city's theaters destroyed, and apart from the walls, to which he devoted some attention, he only saw the arches of the river Selinus worth a mention. The magnificent buildings of the Attalids and the Romans were only plundered ruins at this time. In 1345, Pergamon finally became part of the Ottoman Empire . For the further history, see Bergama .

Pergamum and the Myth

Foundation of Pergamon: Representation on the Telephus frieze of the Pergamon altar

Pergamum, which attributed its foundation to Telephos , 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 in the Homeric sphere with the landscape of Mysia, where he sought his mother following an oracle, he succeeded Teuthras there as foster son or son-in-law in the kingship over the area between Pergamon and the mouth of Kaikos Teuthrania . He refused to take part in the Trojan War , and his son Eurypylus even fought on the side of the Trojans . Pergamon also plays no role in the tragic processing of the material – such as Aeschylus ' Mysoi , Sophocles ' Aleades , Telephos or the Eye of Euripides .

Only the Attalids, namely Eumenes II, made Telephos their mythical ancestor and founder of the city, whose legend related to Pergamon was impressively told on the small frieze of the Pergamon Altar. Thus, the Attalids traced their own lineage back to Heracles and Attalus III. is even called Heraklespross in a poem by Nikandros from Colophon . With the appropriation of the myth, Teuthrania was also transfigured into the old name of Pergamon. The Telephos myth, on the other hand, was not adapted completely unbroken.

On the one hand, Eurypylus, through whom the dynastic line should consequently have been derived, was not mentioned in the hymn sung in honor of Telephos in the Asklepieion because of blood guilt, on the other hand he seems to have received no further attention. But the Pergamenians offered sacrifices to Telephos, and even the tomb of his mother's eye was shown in Pergamon near Caïkos. Pergamon thus moved into the Trojan sagas, its rulers saw themselves as descendants of those Arcadians who fought with Telephos against Agamemnon himself when he believed that he had already reached Troy and devastated the country when he landed on Kaikos.

On the other hand, the saga surrounding the founding of the city was linked to another figure in the myth, with Pergamos , the hero eponymous of the city. He also belonged extensively to the Trojan sagas, 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 his name to the city. After her death he set up a heroon for his mother. According to a less heroic version, Grynos, son of Eurypylus, named a city ​​after him in gratitude. Also these mythical connections of the founding of the city seem to be late and not before the 3rd century BC. verifiable. Pergamos' role remained subordinate, even if he enjoyed a certain reverence: coin images, albeit only from the Roman period, bore his likeness 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 city's Sullan yoke after the First Mithridatic War, could even be celebrated in Pergamon as the new Pergamos.

The decisive factor for the Attalids, however, was apparently the genealogical connection to Heracles, as had long been established by other Hellenistic dynasties: 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 Apollon , the Seleucids , had Heracles in their lineage. 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, which wanted to strengthen their legitimacy through divine descent and increase their prestige. The inhabitants accepted this gladly and let themselves be called Telephidai ( Τηλεφίδαι ), in poetic exaggeration Pergamon is handed down as the Telephic City ( Τήλεφις πόλις ).

Research and excavation history

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

The first reports about post-antique Pergamon date back to the 13th century. Beginning with Cyriacus of Ancona , travelers have repeatedly visited the place and published descriptions since the 15th century. Worthy of mention are the remarks of Thomas Smith, who traveled to the Levant in 1668 and provided a fairly detailed account of Pergamum, to which the great travelers of the 17th century - Jacob Spon and George Wheler - could add nothing essential in their travel reports.

In the late 18th century, these journeys were increasingly driven by a scientific, especially ancient historical research urge, embodied in the person of Marie-Gabriel Choiseul-Gouffier , traveler to Asia Minor and from 1784 to 1791 French ambassador at 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. Charles Texier was the first to draw up a really varied presentation with plans, outlines and views of the city and its ruins , which he published 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. He returned in 1869 for the construction of the Pergamon- Dikili road, for which he undertook topographical studies and began to study the city's legacies more intensively. In 1871 a small expedition led by Ernst Curtius reached him there . As a result of the short, intensive investigation that has now been carried out, two fragments of a large frieze were sent to Berlin for examination and aroused some interest there, but not much. It is unknown who first connected these fragments with Lucius Ampelius ' mention of a large altar in Pergamum . However, 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 the aforementioned altar was now generally suspected.

The Lower Agora in 1902 during excavation

As a result of the efforts, Carl Humann was commissioned in 1878, who had spent the previous years with smaller investigations in Pergamon and discovered, for example, the architrave inscription of the Demeter temple in 1875, with the work carried out until 1886 in the area of ​​the Zeus altar. With the permission of the Ottoman government , the reliefs found there were brought to Berlin, 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 research the historic city and the castle hill as completely as possible. He was followed in the excavation periods from 1900 to 1911 by the building researcher Wilhelm Dörpfeld , to whom we owe important results and under whose leadership the Lower Agora, the Attalos House and the Gymnasion, including the Demeter sanctuary, were uncovered.

As a result of World War I , excavations were dormant and only resumed in 1927 under the direction of Theodor Wiegand , who held that position until 1939. He focused on further exploration of the Upper Castle, the Asklepieion, and the Red Hall. The Second World War also brought another interruption to research in Pergamon, which lasted until 1957. From 1957 to 1968, Erich Boehringer worked primarily on the Asklepieion, but also gained important insights into the lower city as a whole and devoted himself to surveys that covered the area around Pergamon. In 1971, after a vacancy, Wolfgang Radt succeeded him as head of the excavation and, in accordance with the changed research interests, directed the attention to the housing developments in Pergamon, but also to technical issues such as the water supply of the city with its peak of 200,000 inhabitants. His monument preservation 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 taken to the Pergamon Museum in Berlin up to the First World War, while a smaller proportion went to the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul , which opened in 1891 . After the First World War, the Bergama Archaeological Museum was opened in 1936 and has housed the finds ever since.

infrastructure and housing development

Pergamon is considered a good example of a grown city that also has a planned character. Philetairus transformed Pergamum from an archaic settlement into a fortified city. He or his successor, Attalos I, surrounded the upper castle with a wall, including the plateau widening to the south, which carried the Upper Agora and parts of the residential buildings, further 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 busiest periods in the history of Pergamon, the city expanded significantly. A new road network was created, a new city wall, which received a monumental gate south of the Acropolis, the Eumenian Gate. The wall, which was provided with numerous gates, now surrounded the entire castle hill, not just the upper castle, and included the area up to the Selinus in the south-west. In addition to numerous other public buildings, another marketplace was added to the city on the more extensive territory south of the Acropolis and to the east of the newly built gymnasium. The southeast slope and the entire western slope were now settled and opened up by roads.

The city layout 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 erection of the buildings and the layout of the markets. Nevertheless, the effects of growth were overbuilding of older structures, since there was not enough space.

Irrespective of this, a new beginning began in Roman times when a whole new city with all the necessary infrastructural facilities, baths, theatres, stadiums and sanctuaries was planned to the west of the Selinus. Unaffected by external threats, the Roman new town was able to expand without the confining city walls.

apartment buildings

Common to most of the Hellenistic houses of Pergamon is the layout around a fairly 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. Antechambers giving access to other rooms occur and open to the southern courtyard through a wide passage or colonnade. An exact north-south alignment of the facilities was usually not possible due to the topographical conditions and older buildings. The facilities vary in terms of the size and arrangement of the rooms. At the latest from the Philetairian period, this type of courtyard house is widespread and increasingly binding, but standardization can be ruled out. Some complexes can be described as Prostashaus and are comparable with similar complexes in Priene , others have columned halls broadly in front of the northern main rooms. In the case of the latter in particular, two-storey buildings can be proven several times by staircases. Cisterns were usually housed in the courtyards to collect 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.

space facilities

With the beginning of the reign of Philetairus, urban events in Pergamum concentrated on the Acropolis. Over time, the so-called “Upper Agora ” developed in the south. First, during the reign of Attalos I, a temple to Zeus was erected. This was followed further north by the construction of a multi-storey building, which probably served a market-like function. As the layout of the square 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 eumenic city expansion, the mercantile character of the Upper Agora was further developed. Signs of this development are primarily the halls erected under Eumenes II, the rear chambers of which were probably used for trade. In the west, the so-called west room, a building presumably used for market control, was also erected. 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 Eumenian period.

Due to the close proximity of newly created important buildings, the redesign of the Athena sanctuary and the Pergamon altar, and the associated urban redesign, the design and ordering principle of the Upper Agora were also subjected to fundamental changes. Its character became much more representative and was aimed architecturally at the two new structures, giving them support and a framework, as the altar stood free and without the peristyle enclosing of columned halls on its terrace above the slope of the Acropolis , which is otherwise usual in Pergamon .

The approximately 55 × 80 m "Lower Agora" was built under Eumenes II and was probably not subject to 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. Due to the sloping terrain, the rooms in the basement, which are only available to the south and east, opened onto the outside of the complex via a columned hall. The entire market complex ran over two levels with a large columned courtyard in the middle, which was adjoined by small sales rooms and rooms with a wide variety of functions.

roads and bridges

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

The course of the main street, which wound its way up the mountain in serpentines to the Acropolis , was characteristic of the street system of Pergamon . Shops and shops lined this main street. The subsoil of the main road consisted of andesite blocks up to 5 meters wide, 1 meter high and 30 centimeters deep. Completing the street layout was a sewer system that carried water down the hillside street. Since it was the city's most important street, the wear and tear of the material was very high.

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

Built under Emperor Hadrian, the nearly 200-meter-long Pergamum Bridge under the forecourt of the Red Hall in downtown Bergama is considered by far the largest river crossing of antiquity.

water supply

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

The Madradağ line was a clay pipe with a diameter of 18 cm, which was already laid out in Hellenistic times, which carried the water from a spring in the Madradağ Mountains at an altitude of 1174 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 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, in a water chamber that was provided with a double settling basin. This reservoir is 35 m higher than the top of the castle hill. The line from there to the Acropolis was only one line. This final piece consisted of a pressure pipe made of lead , the maximum stress of which was 200  meters of water column . The sink to the castle hill could be overcome with the help of this closed pipeline. It functioned as a communicating tube , so the water rose by itself to the outlet on the mountain due to the closed lead pipe.

cults and sanctuaries

Numerous sanctuaries and temples adorned the cityscape of Pergamon, including the sanctuary of Athena, the temple of Dionysos , the sanctuaries of Demeter and Hera , and the extensive area of the Asklepios sanctuary about 3 kilometers west of the city . The temenos for the ruler cult was located on the castle hill . In the year 29 BC The first imperial cult temple in the province of Asia was built in Pergamon for Roma and Augustus . According to a 19/18 v. The temple had a six-column front on a five-tier base , the frieze bore the dedicatory inscription to Roma and Augustus, and the gables were crowned with palmettes . However, the schematic depiction of the coin does not allow any further conclusions about the appearance of the temple. The Traianeum, dedicated to Trajan, should also be mentioned from Roman times. In addition, there were many smaller cult buildings whose attribution to a deity is usually uncertain.

Altar of Zeus

Base of the Pergamon Altar

The most famous building is the Pergamon Altar, probably dedicated to Zeus and Athena, whose grid foundation is still in the area of ​​the ancient upper town. The remains of the Pergamon frieze that originally adorned it can be viewed in the Berlin Pergamon Museum, where the frieze panels that came to Germany at the time are installed in a partial reconstruction of the Pergamon Altar.

For its construction, the required terrain was artificially heaped up and terraced, enabling a strict alignment of the axes with the neighboring Temple of Athena. The base of the altar building, which is almost square at around 36 × 33 meters, was decorated with a detailed depiction of the Gigantomachy , the fight of the Olympian gods against the giants, in high relief . With a total length of 113 meters, the composition represents the second longest surviving frieze from antiquity, surpassed only by the representation of the Panathenaic procession on the frieze of the Parthenon in Athens. A flight of steps almost 20 meters wide, cut into the base and flanked by avant -corps led to the superstructure surrounded by columns, which opened up as a large courtyard area behind a hall-like column arrangement at the end of the staircase. The courtyard walls bore another frieze, now the legend of Telephos, son of Heracles and mythical founder of Pergamon. With a height of around 1.60 meters, this frieze was significantly smaller than the 2.30 meter high frieze of the outer base zone.

Athena sanctuary

Athena sanctuary

Pergamon's oldest temple is a 4th century BC Athena sanctuary, a north-facing Doric peripteros of 6 × 10 columns with a cella tiered into two rooms , of which only the roughly 12.70 × 21.80 meter foundations remain today are visible. With an intercolumnium of 1.62 meters width and a diameter of only 0.75 meters of the approximately 5.25 meter high pillars, the position of the pillars is very light for the chronological position of the temple. This corresponds to the structure of the triglyph in the entablature , which, contrary to the usual rhythm of two triglyphs and two metopes , each has three of these elements. The pillars of the temple remained unannealed and still showed bosses , whether this is due to intentional incompleteness or negligence cannot be decided.

The two-story columned halls surrounding the temple on three sides were built under King Eumenes II, as was the propylon in the south-east corner , the main parts of which have been reconstructed and are now in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. The balustrades of 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 triglyph on the upper floor, which now had five triglyphs and metopes. Attalus I and Eumenes II erected their memorials to victory in the sanctuary area, in particular the Anathema of Galatians. In its northern portico the library of Pergamon is located.

Demeter sanctuary

Demeter sanctuary from the east

The Demeter sanctuary, measuring around 50 × 110 meters, was located on the middle shelf 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.

The sanctuary was entered from the east through a propylon, which opened onto a courtyard surrounded on three sides by colonnades. In the middle of the western half rose the Ionic temple of Demeter, a simple, 6.45 m × 12.70 m large antae temple , which received a porch in the Corinthian order at the time of Antoninus Pius . Built of local materials, the Hellenistic building had a marble frieze decorated with bucrania 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. Temple and altar were built by Philetairos and his brother Eumenes in honor of their mother Boa the goddess.

In the eastern courtyard area, the northern columned hall is preceded by more than ten tiers of seats for the participants in the mysteries of Demeter. About 800 mystics could find space here.

Hera sanctuary

Temple of Hera and sanctuary from the west

The sanctuary of Hera Basileia lay north of the upper gymnasion terrace. His system consisted of two parallel terraces, the southern one was about 107.40 meters, the northern one about 109.80 meters above sea level. The upper one bore the Temple of Hera, which opened to the south, in the middle, which was flanked by a 6 meter wide exedra in the west and a building whose function could not be determined in more detail in the east. The two terraces were connected by a 7.50 meter wide staircase made up of eleven steps in front of the temple front.

The approximately 7 × 12 meter temple rose on a three-tier base and was formed as a four-column Prostyle Doric order, whose entablature was rhythmic with three triglyphs and metopes per yoke. While all other structures of 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 served to display three cult images.

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

Temple of Dionysus

Temple of Dionysus at the north end of the theater terrace

Already in the last third of the 3rd century BC the Attalids brought Dionysos, who was nicknamed Kathegemon in Pergamon, special reverence and chose him as the main god of their dynasty. In the 2nd century B.C. BC Eumenes II probably had a temple to 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 columns and two columns in a deep vestibule and could be entered via a 25-step outside staircase. Only a few remnants of the Hellenistic construction phase have survived. By far the largest part of the surviving building material comes from a renovation of the temple, which was probably carried out under Caracalla, but perhaps also under Hadrian.


Trajaneum in Pergamum

The temple dedicated to Trajan and Zeus Philios rose on the highest point of the castle hill. The temple rose in the middle on a 2.90 meter high podium on a terrace prepared with vault constructions. The temple itself was an approximately 18 meter wide peripteros of Corinthian order with 6 × 9 columns and two column positions between the antae . In the north, the area was closed off by a raised columned hall, while the east and west sides were only delimited by simple ashlar walls, but were replaced by columned halls in Hadrian's time.

During the excavations, fragments of statues of Trajan and Hadrian, especially the portrait heads, and fragments of statues from 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 city of Bergama, formerly embedded in the street system of the lower city, 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 on three sides , over two-thirds of which modern houses are built today. According to the current state of research, it was a temple of the Egyptian gods, probably Serapis and Isis , but also a place of imperial cult . The main building was a 60 × 26 m brick building, originally clad in marble, with two-story porticos running around it on the inside. In the center were various water basins and a monumental walk-in statue, probably of Serapis. To the side of the main building are two domed round buildings more than 16 m high, which probably also served cult purposes. On each side of the main temple, in front of the rotunda, is a courtyard, also with water basins and covered colonnades, with the Egyptizing columns in the form of double caryatids , consisting of a male and a female figure of a god. In Byzantine times, a three-aisled basilica was built into the temple.

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


The Asklepieion from the Roman Theater

The Asclepius cult was practiced in Pergamon as early as the 4th century BC. It was established in the family of a certain Archias, the founder of the cult. Under Eumenes II he was elevated to a state cult. Access to the Asklepieion was made possible by an 820 meter long magnificent street, which, at least in its first part, had been crossed through a gate building that formed the entrance and was vaulted via tecta .

The Asklepieion in the form we know 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 to the east, where the ceremonial 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 stood a two-storey rotunda that was used for spa operations. It was connected to the cult center of the facility, the holy, radioactive spring, by an underground passage about 80 meters long.

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 that could hold around 3,500 spectators with its 29 rows of marble seats.

secular buildings

The relatively simple palaces of Attalos I and Eumenes II, grouped around peristyles , with their nearby barracks and arsenals on the Acropolis, columned halls and public monuments, along with numerous other facilities, were just as much a part of the cityscape as the theatre, and a huge gymnasium complex and a world-famous library at the time.


The hill theater of Pergamon

The theater is well-preserved , mostly from the Hellenistic period, which offered space for 10,000 spectators, climbed 36 meters in height with 78 rows of seats and thus had the steepest spectator circuit of all ancient theatres. Three girdle corridors called diazoma divided the spectator shell, the koilon , into tiers which were accessed vertically by 0.75 meter narrow stairs and divided the auditorium into six and seven wedges. Below the theater was a terrace 247 meters long and up to 17.40 meters wide, which rested on high retaining walls and was framed on the long sides by columned halls. Coming from the Oberer Markt, one could enter it through a gate building located in the south. There was no room on this terrace for a circular orchestra , as is to be expected for the Greek theatre. 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 served as the whole staging, was not impaired. Only in the early 1st century B.C. A marble stage building was erected. Other theaters date from Roman times, one in the Roman new town and the other in the cult complex of Asklepios.

high school

An extensive, in the 2nd century B.C. The gymnasium complex erected in the 3rd century BC was on the southern slope of the Acropolis. The main entrance to the Gymnasion was at the southeast corner of the lower of the complex's three terraces. The small southern terrace had almost no structural facilities and is referred to as a boys' gymnasium. The middle terrace was about 250 meters long and about 70 meters deep in its central area. On its north side stood a two-story hall. A small prostyle temple of Corinthian order rose to the east of the square. At the transition from the middle to the upper gymnasium terrace there was a covered stadium , the so-called "basement stadium".

The upper terrace, which is also the largest at 150 × 70 metres, was a courtyard surrounded by porticoes and other buildings, which alone measured around 36 × 74 metres. This complex, which can be described as a palaestra , had a theater-shaped classroom behind its northern columned hall, probably from Roman times, and a large ballroom in the middle. Other rooms of unclear function were accessible from the columned halls. To the west, a south-facing Ionic antae temple stood as the central sanctuary of the gymnasium. The eastern area was built over by a thermal baths in Roman times. More Roman baths were built to the west of the Ionic temple.


The library of Pergamum 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 localization of the library building is not certain. Since the excavations of the 19th century, it has mostly been recognized in an extension of the northern columned hall of the Athena district on the upper castle, built under Eumenes II. Findings of inscriptions in the gymnasium naming 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 parchment was invented in Pergamon, can probably be referred to the realm of legend. According to Octavian propaganda, Marc Antony gave the library holdings to Cleopatra . Both the donation and the burning of the Library of Alexandria in 41 BC BC, whose holdings were to be rebuilt through this donation, are disputed in terms of their historicity.



Antiquities of Pergamum

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

More literature

web links

Wiktionary: Pergamon  – Explanations of meaning, word origin, synonyms, translations
Commons : Pergamon  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


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  58. To the Demeter Sanctuary: Antiquities of Pergamon . XIII; Older research: Gottfried pits: The temples of the Greeks . 3rd Edition. Hirmer, Munich 1980, pp. 437–440.
  59. To the Sanctuary of Hera: Antiquities of Pergamon . VI, pp. 102–110, Plates I–-II, IV–V, VI–VII, VIII, X–XI, XVIII, XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXV.
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  66. Antiquities of Pergamum . IV; Gottfried Gruben: The Temples of the Greeks . 3rd Edition. Hirmer, Munich 1980, pp. 439–440.
  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, p. 5, 28-43.
  70. To the Upper Terrace: Antiquities of Pergamon . VI, pp. 4, 43-79.
  71. Antiquities of Pergamum . II, pp. 56–88.
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  73. Pliny, Naturalis historia 13, 70.
  74. For discussion see: Hans Widmann : Production and Distribution of the Book in the Graeco-Roman World . In: Archive for the history of the book trade . Volume 8, 1967, p. 556.
  75. Plutarch , Antony 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 (ed.): Ancient Libraries . Zabern, Mainz 2002, ISBN 3-8053-2846-X , pp. 31-38; Volker M. Strocka : Once again to the library of Pergamon . In: Archaeological Gazetteer . 2000, pp. 155-165.