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2 history
3 practical info
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  gallery 1
  gallery 2
 
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My Favourite Planet > English > Middle East > Turkey > Pergamon
Pergamon, Turkey History of Pergamon   page 2
The western side of the Pergamon acropolis, Turkey at My Favourite Planet

The western side of the Pergamon Acropolis.
"Pergamon, the most illustrious city
in Asia Minor"


Pliny the Elder, Roman author 23-79 AD [1]

Pergamon, in northwest Anatolia, whose ancient name Pergamos (Greek, Πέργαμον or Πέργαμος; Latin, Pergamum) means "people of the high city", had been inhabited since prehistory, and the name is thought to predate the arrival of the Greeks. However, it really appeared on the map during Hellenistic Age (323-146 BC) [2] which began with the conquests of Alexander the Great (see below).

Archaeological finds around Pergamon date back to the Stone Age and Bronze Age, including the time of the Hittites, who at the zenith of their power in the the 14th century BC had conquered most of Anatolia (Asia Minor). After around 1180 BC, as the Hittite empire collapsed, Thracian and Mycenean Greek tribes moved through or settled in the area, though little is known of the early history of Pergamon itself.

At some point this part of Anatolia, which included Troy, became known as Mysia. Ancient writers refer to the area of Mysia around Pergamon in pre-Hellenistic times as Teuthrania, which was possibly also the name of a town, named after the mythical king Teuthras (Τεύθρας).

It is not known whether Teuthras actually existed, and if so whether he was Greek or an indigenous Anatolian. However, according to the complicated mythological geneaologies, he would have lived before the time of the Trojan War, and his grandson and successor Eurypylos (Εὐρύπυλος), son of Telephos (Τήλεφος, far-shining), fought against the invading Greeks on the side of Troy at the head of the Ceteians (of the river Ketios, today the Kestel Çayı, which runs through Bergama; see gallery 1, page 25), even if he did have to be bribed by his mother to do so. [3]

Telephos, the son of Herakles and Auge (Αὔγη), was a prince of Tegea in the Peloponnese, and Teuthras is said to have given him and his mother refuge, offered him his daughter in marriage and made him his heir. This all sounds like either a Greek non-hostile take-over or assimilation into an Anatolian society. In most other places in Anatolia, such as Ephesus, the Greeks simply killed, enslaved and drove off the local inhabitants and stole their land.

The heroic tales concerning Telephos and Auge became part of the foundation myths of the Pergamon kingdom, and were graphically depicted on the reliefs on the inner court walls of the Great Altar of Zeus on the Pergamon Acropolis (now in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin; see gallery 2, pages 23-26). This complicated yarn has all the ingredients of epic myth: love, sex, lost children, betrayal, battles, shipwrecks, rescues, prophecies and divine interventions. It is suprising it hasn't been made into a movie.

The much-embroidered story was used by Pergamon's Hellenistic Attalid rulers (4th-2nd centuries BC, see below) as legitimizing propaganda, weaving in elements of mortal heroism, the ancient Greek gods and ancestor worship. The Attalids claimed to be descendants of Telephos, despite the fact that their founder came from the Black Sea coast. The narrative also ties Pergamon to other places revered in classical times such as Arcadia, Delphi and Troy.

Another foundation myth was retold by the Greek travel writer and historian Pausanias (2nd century AD), who spent some time in Pergamon. Pergamus, son of the Homeric Pyrrhos, son of Achilles, and Andromache, widow of Prince Hector of Troy, crossed from Epiros in northwestern Greece to Asia, killed King Areios of Teuthrania in single combat, took the throne and renamed the city after himself. His mother Andromache went with him, and Pausanias tells us that her shrine there still existed in his day. [4]

 

Pergamon Acropolis, Bergama, Turkey at My Favourite Planet

Pergamon Acropolis
photo gallery 1

Photos and information
about Pergamon's sights.


photo gallery 2

Photos and information
about art and architectural
objects, from or related
to Pergamon, in various museums.
Prehistoric marble female idol from the Pergamon area at My Favourite Planet

Marble female idol of the
Kiliya type, from Babaköy,
northwestern Anatolia.
Circa 4200-3000 BC,
Chalcolithic Period.
Height 9.9 cm.

Antikensammlung SMB,
Berlin. Inv. No. 31457.
Acquired in 1933 by
Theodor Wiegand.
 
Bronze Age pottery from the Pergamon area at My Favourite Planet

Archaic "wild goat style" pottery from Gryneion (Yenişakran) near Pergamon.
7th - 5th century BC.

Bergama Archaeological Museum.
 
Homer at My Favourite Planet

Homer, the first writer
to mention the area
of Pergamon.

See gallery 2, page 1.

Marble bust,
British Museum, London.
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History of
Pergamon
1000 BC: Greek settlers
Aeolian Greeks from Thessaly and Boeotia settled here around 1000 BC when they were driven from mainland Greece by invading Dorians, and the coastal region in which they settled also became known as Aeolia, just as the area taken over by Ionian Greeks further south along the Aegean coast (for example Ephesus) became known as Ionia.

In contrast to the sea-going Ionians, their new neighbours in Asia, the Aeolians were landlubbers and farmers. The Greek historian Herodotus (circa 485-425 BC), who was born in Halicarnassos (today the Turkish city of Bodrum) in Caria, wrote that "the soil of Aeolia is better than that of Ionia, but the climate is not so good." [5]

Mysia was overtaken by the neighbouring kingdom of Phrygia (to the east) and then by Lydia (to the south).
 
Lydian stater of Alyattes, Sardis 610-560 BC at My Favourite Planet

Lydian stater,
Sardis, 610-560 BC.

Altes Museum, Berlin.
 
Head of a Greek kouros statue at My Favourite Planet

Detail of an archaic
Greek kouros statuette.
Bronze, 570-560 BC.
From the Sanctuary of
Hera, Samos, Greece.

Neues Museum, Berlin.
 
History of
Pergamon
546-334 BC: The Persians
In 546 BC the Lydian King Croesos was defeated by King Cyrus the Great (559-529 BC), and the Greek cities of Anatolia became part of the Persian empire, governed on behalf of the king by a series of local rulers known as satraps.

For the next 200 years the Greeks and Persians were to be arch enemies, with wars on an enormous scale and unsuccessful revolts by conquered Greek cities, and for a while it seemed that the Greek culture and way of life was doomed. This situation was made worse by the age-old prediliction of the Greek states for fighting among themselves, particularly Athens, Thebes and Sparta. Various Greek states and generals also allied themselves with Persia either to damage competing Greek states, or because they were bribed or compelled to by the Persian kings.

But the Persian empire also had its weaknesses and internecine struggles. The Greeks were not above using Persia's problems to their own advantage, even supplying mercenaries to one side or the other.

Archaeologists have found artefacts at Pergamon which they believe prove that there was a small settlement here during the 6th - 5th centuries BC, although not much more has yet been discovered about life here during this period.

The earliest known historical mention of Pergamon was by the general, historian and pupil of Socrates, Xenophon of Athens (circa 430-354 BC) who arrived with his army in 399 BC. In his memoir Anabasis (The march up country), he recounts how he led "the ten thousand" Greek soldiers out of south eastern Anatolia after a disastrous military expedition to support Cyrus the Younger, satrap of Asia Minor, against his brother, emperor Artaxerxes II of Persia (401 BC).

He concludes the work with an odd sort of "happy end" by telling of another military adventure. He and his soldiers travel through Mysia (northwestern Anatolia) on their way to yet another war. Xenophon is, as ever, short of money. In Pergamon he is "hospitably entertained" by Hellas, the widow of the city's administrator Gongylus the Eretrian. She tells him about Asidates, a rich Persian who lives in a tower nearby on the plain of the Kaikos River, and suggests that he should rob and capture him, "wife, children, money, and all; of money he has a store". This Xenophon does, and his troops unanimously vote to give him the first pick of the loot. [6]

He makes no attempt to justify this opportunistic robbery or explain his or Hellas' motives for it. Perhaps it was clear to his Greek readership that the Persians were the enemy and therefore fair game.
 

Persian gold daric coin at My Favourite Planet

Persian gold daric coin,
5th - 4th century BC.

Numismatic Collection,
Bode Museum, Berlin.

See: Big Money
at The Cheshire Cat Blog.
 
Bust of Xenophon of Athens at My Favourite Planet

Xenophon of Athens.
Marble bust from the
Asclepieion, Pergamon.
Roman Imperial period,
2nd century AD. [7]

Bergama Museum.
Inv. No. 784.
 
Detail of a Greco-Persian grave stele from Magnesia ad Sypilum (Manisa) at My Favourite Planet

Detail of a Greco-Persian
grave stele from Magnesia
ad Sypilum (Manisa).

Bergama Museum.
 
History of
Pergamon
334-281 BC: Alexander the Great
and his successors
Alexander the Great is said to have studied Xenophon's Anabasis as a field guide to Anatolia before embarking on his campaign against the Persian king Darius III. In 334 BC Alexander defeated Darius on the River Granicus (near modern Çanakkale). As he marched through western Anatolia, Pergamon surrendered to him, and he appointed Barsine, the widow of the Persian commander, as administrator.

After Alexander the Great's sudden death in Babylon in 323 BC, his generals and relations (Διάδοχοι, the Diadochi, successors) waged war on each other for control of parts of his empire. Eventually, in 301 BC Lysimachus (Λυσίμαχος, Lysimachos, circa 360 - 281 BC), King of Thrace [8], took control of western Anatolia (Lydia, Ionia and Phrygia), including Pergamon. With the great riches he had accumulated as the spoils of war, he began rebuilding ancient cities such as Ephesus, and several new cities appeared in Anatolia.

Lysimachus stored his war booty, a fortune of 9,000 talents of silver [9], estimated to be worth 54 million drachmas, at Pergamon, choosing as treasurer (gazophylax) one of his officers, Philetaerus (Φιλέταιρος, circa 343 - 263 BC) of Tios (Τίειον) [10], a colony of Miletus on the Black Sea coast of Anatolia. Philetaerus is said to have been a eunuch, whose father, Attalus, was Greek and mother, Boa, a Paphlagonian. He had previously served Antigonus, one of Lysimachus' enemies, but had switched sides. He was to do this again as later the wars of the Diadochi became ever more complex and murderous.

Lysimachus had made himself very unpopular with the people of western Anatolia, especially after he had his own son Agothocles executed, and his days were numbered. Philetaerus offered the fortress of Pergamon and its treasury to Seleucus (circa 358 - 281 BC, later known as Σέλευκος Α΄ Νικάτωρ, Seleucus I Nicator, the victorious), ruler of much of Alexander's empire in Asia and founder of the Seleucid dynasty (often referred to as the Syrian kings), who defeated and killed Lysimachus at the Battle of Corupedium in 281 BC.

After his victory, Seleucus was naturally keen to claim the promised riches of Pergamon in order to finance the expansion of his empire into Europe. The cunning Philetaerus was able to keep deferring the payoff, and luckily for him Seleucus was murdered soon after by one of his own protegés, Ptolemy Keraunos [11].
 

Alexander the Great head from Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Alexander the Great.
Marble head, Pergamon,
2nd century BC.

Istanbul Archaeological
Museum.

See gallery 2, page 2.
 
Tetradrachme coin of Lysimachos, king of Thrace at My Favourite Planet

Alexander's portrait on a
Tetradrachme coin of
Lysimachus. From Ainos,
Thrace, circa 297-281 BC.

Altes Museum, Berlin.

See gallery 2, page 3.
 
Lysimachus at My Favourite Planet

Marble bust thought to be
a portrait of Lysimachus.
Augustan copy (23 BC -
14 AD) of a 2nd century
BC Greek original.

National Archaeological
Museum, Naples.

See gallery 2, page 3.
 
History of
Pergamon
281 BC: The Attalid dynasty
and the Gauls
Although Pergamon was now part of the Seleucid empire it was left largely autonomous. Philetaerus was able to hold onto Pergamon's wealth and use it to increase his power and influence and found the Attalid dynasty (named after his father Ἄτταλος, Attalos) which was to rule Pergamon until 133 BC. All future Attalid rulers, except Eumenes II, depicted his head on their coins in honour of the dynastic founder.

On the Pergamon Acropolis Philetaerus built the temple of Demeter, the temple of Athena (the city's patron goddess) and the first palace, and improved the city's fortifications. He donated funds to other cities and religious centres, including Delphi and Delos, thus strengthening diplomatic ties.

He also contributed troops, money and provisions to fight the Gauls, who had invaded the Balkans and Anatolia, and in 278 BC settled in the area of central Anatolia which was to become known as Galatia. The Gauls continually raided Greek settlements and were deemed invincible. They began demanding tributes, i.e. protection money, which the Greek cities were forced to pay.




Attalid rulers of Pergamon 283 – 129 BC
283 – 263 BC Philetaerus
263 – 241 BC Eumenes I
241 – 197 BC Attalus I Soter
197 – 159/8 BC Eumenes II Soter
159/8 – 139/8 BC Attalus II Philadelphus
139/8 – 133 BC Attalus III Philometor Euergetes
133 – 129 BC Aristonicus (the pretender "Eumenes III")
 

Bust of Seleucus I at My Favourite Planet

Bust of Seleucus I

Found in Herculaneum.

National Archaeological
Museum, Naples.

See gallery 2, page 3.
 
Bust of Philetaerus of Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Bust of Philetaerus.

Found in Herculaneum.

National Archaeological
Museum, Naples.

See gallery 2, page 3.
 
Philetaerus of Pergamon tetradrachme at My Favourite Planet

Tetradrachme coin of
Philetaerus, circa
270 BC, with a portrait
of Seleucus I.

Altes Museum, Berlin.

See gallery 2, page 3.
 
History of
Pergamon
263-241 BC: Eumenes I
Philetaerus was succeeded by Eumenes I (Ευμένης Α' της Περγάμου, died 241 BC), his nephew and adopted son, who revolted against the Seleucid king Antiochus I and defeated him near Sardis in 261 BC. He extended the land under the control of the newly independent Pergamon, and managed to maintain peace with the Seleucids and the Gauls who were still plaguing Anatolia. Eumenes also continued the building work on the Pergamon Acropolis begun by his uncle and encouraged the arts, philosophy and sports.

Like his uncle Philetaerus, Eumenes I died childless and was succeeded by his second cousin and adopted son Attalus.
 
Eumenes I of Pergamon tetradrachme at My Favourite Planet

Tetradrachme coin of
Eumenes I, with a portrait
of Philetaerus. 262-241 BC.

Altes Museum, Berlin.

See gallery 2, page 3.
 
 
History of
Pergamon
241-197 BC: Attalus I Soter
One of the first decrees of Attalus I (269-197 BC, his Greek name was actually Ἄτταλος, Attalos) banned the payment of tributes to the Gauls. The Celtic warriors attacked Pergamon, causing severe losses to the Attalus' forces. However, the next year he managed to turn the tide against them and their Seleucid allies, and by 227 BC he had totally destroyed the Gallic threat. His victories made him a popular hero throughout the Greek world, and Epigonus built a memorial to them in Athens.

Attalus I became known as Soter (Σωτὴρ, Saviour) and was the first Attalid to take the title king (238 BC). On Pergamon's Acropolis he built a gallery for sculptures which included the famous Dying Gaul, a copy of which is in now Rome. He also began the building of the Pergamon Library, which was to became the second most important in the ancient world after the Library of Alexandria in Egypt. (There were actually two libraries at Alexandria, but that's another story). The building of the library was continued in grand style by his son Eumenes II (see below).

In Asia he had several victories and setbacks as he attempted to seize territory from the Seleucids, and he eventually turned his attentions westwards to Greece.

Significantly, he also allied himself with Rome which meanwhile had become the dominant power in the Mediterranean and was rapidly taking over Greek territories in Europe. At the time, many Greek states, including Athens, welcomed the interventions by Attalus and the Romans against Philip V of Macedon (Φίλιππος Ε΄, 238–179 BC, king of Macedon 221-179 BC) in the first and second Macedonian Wars. During these wars Attalus captured the Aegean islands of Aegina (which he made his base of operations), Andros and Euboea.

In 201 BC Philip V invaded Pergamon, but due to Attalus' improved fortifications he was unable to take the city and had to satisfy himself by destroying temples and altars outside the walls.

In 200 BC Attalus was given a hero's welcome in Athens, and an Athenian tribe was named Attalis in his honour. Pergamon had arrived as a power to be reckoned with in the Aegean, and Attalus had further enriched the city with the booty he had taken from defeated enemies.

The period of his reign was marked by wars throughout Asia and the Mediterranean, including Rome's war against Hannibal of Carthage. The stakes were very high, as the losers were either slaughtered or enslaved and the winners gained power, territory, slaves and riches; mercy was in very short supply.

Attalus, as one of the winners, was able to live to the ripe old age of 72 and leave a stable family and kingdom to his four sons.
 

King Attalus I of Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Attalus I

Marble head from the
Pergamon Acropolis.

Pergamon Museum, Berlin.

See gallery 2, page 4.
 
Ceramic figurine of a Celtic warrior from Myrina at My Favourite Planet

Ceramic figure of a Celtic
warrior from Myrina.
2nd century BC.

Antikensammlung SMB,
Berlin. Inv. No. 30026.
 
Pergamene altar in Aegina, Greece at My Favourite Planet

2nd century BC poros
stone altar, dedicated to
Zeus and Athena on behalf
of Attalus I by officers and
men of the Pergamene
garrison on Aegina, Greece.
The garrison purchased
the island and settled there
in 210 BC.

Aegina Archaeological
Museum. Inv. No. 1331.
 
History of
Pergamon
197-159 BC: Eumenes II
Attalus' eldest son and successor Eumenes II (Εὐμένης Β' τῆς Περγάμου, ruled 197-159 BC) continued his father's policies, and was probably advised by his mother Apollonis. As an ally of Rome he continued to oppose Macedonia and the Seleucids under Antiochus III the Great.

With the Roman general Lucius Cornelius Scipio he defeated Antiochus at the Battle of Magnesia, near Magnesia ad Sipylum (today Manisa, Turkey) in 190 BC, and gained the regions of Phrygia, Lydia, Pisidia, Pamphylia and parts of Lycia with the blessing of the Romans.

Eumenes fostered the Attalids' good relations with Greece, particularly Athens, where a colossal statue of him and his brother Attalus (later Attalus II, see below) commemorated their victory in a chariot race during the Panathenaic Games in 178 BC, one of many they won there (see Athens Acropolis gallery page 9). Eumenes built the Stoa of Eumenes beneath the northern side of the Athens Acropolis, between the Theatre of Dionysos and the site later occupied by the Odeion of Herodes Atticus.

As part of his plans for the Pergamon Acropolis, Eumenes built the Altar of Zeus and undertook extensive renovations of the theatre. An avid collector of books, he also expanded the Pergamon Library (also known as the Athenaeum), which gave rise to the legend that parchment (also known as pergament and charta pergamena, made from animal skins) was invented here.

According the Roman historian Varro (quoted by another Roman author Pliny the Elder), the Egyptian king Ptolemy V Epiphanes (ruled 203-181 BC) was so envious of Pergamon's growing library, which was competing with his own at Alexandria, that he banned the export of papyrus. Necessity being the mother of invention, the Pergamese are said to have devised parchment to meet their needs [12]. Writing on skins was known long before Eumenes' time, indeeed Herodotus (circa 485-425 BC) mentions it as an ancient practice [13], but it is probable that the production of parchment was refined at Pergamon which must also have manufactured a considerable amount for writing and copying manuscripts for the library.

Since parchment could not be rolled up like papyrus, the development of sheets of treated skins sewn together as a codex led to the form of modern books.

Plutarch wrote that in the 1st century BC, Mark Antony (83-30 BC) was accused by Calvisius, one of his enemies in Rome, of taking the Pergamon library's 200,000 volumes as a gift for Cleopatra. [14]

The Romans later suspected Eumenes of plotting with Perseus of Macedon, and in 167 BC offered to assist his younger brother Attalus (the second son of Attalus I and Apollonis, to become Attalus II) to overthrow him, but Attalus refused. In Eumenes' last years he apparently suffered ill health, and Attalus co-ruled with him from 160 BC.
 

Eumenes II at My Favourite Planet

Bronze portrait of
Eumenes II
.
Found in Herculaneum.

National Archaeological
Museum, Naples.

See gallery 2, page 4.
 
The theatre of the Pergamon Acropolis, Bergama, Turkey at My Favourite Planet

Pergamon's theatre
,
mid 3rd century BC.
Renovated by
Eumenes II.

See gallery 1, page 5.
 
Statue of Athena from Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Statue of Athena

From the Sanctuary
of Athena, Pergamon.
Circa 190 BC.

Pergamon Museum, Berlin.

See gallery 2, page 13.
 
Statue of Zeus Ammon from Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Zeus Ammon

Marble statue from the
Pergamon Acropolis.

Istanbul Archaeological
Museum.

See gallery 2, page 19.
 
History of
Pergamon
159-138 BC: Attalus II Philadelphus
When Eumenes II died in 158 BC, his son Attalus (later Attalus III, see below) was only around 12 years old and too young to rule, and so Eumenes' brother Attalus II Philadelphus (Ἄτταλος Β' ὁ Φιλάδελφος, Attalos B Philadelphos, Attalus the brother-loving, 220–138 BC) continued his regency. He also married Eumenes' widow Stratonike (Στρατονίκη, circa 200 - circa 138-135 BC), daughter of King Ariarathes IV of Cappadocia, who was a good friend and ally of Attalus.

Attalus had already proved himself an able military commander and diplomat, having made several diplomatic visits to Rome and seen off attacks by the Seleucids (190 and 182 BC) and Pharnaces I of Pontus (182 BC). He had also fought alongside the Romans in Galatia (189 BC) and Greece (171 BC, during the Third Macedonian War).

With the support of the Romans he helped the pretender Alexander Balas depose the Seleucid king Demetrius I in 150 BC, and Nicomedes II Epiphanes to overthrow his father, the Bithynian king Prusias II in 149 BC. He thus sought to make allies of two of Pergamon's strongest local enemies.

King Ariarathes IV of Cappadocia helped Attalus expand his territories and found the cities of Philadelphia and Attalia (the modern Turkish city of Antalya). By this time Pergamon had become the largest and most powerful kingdom in Anatolia.

Like his predecessors, Attalus encouraged the arts in Pergamon and abroad. He also financed the building of the Stoa of Attalus in the Athens Agora, which has now been restored and today is one of the gems of the ancient market place, housing the Agora Museum.
 
Purported head of Attalos II of Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Marble head from the
Stoa of Attalus, Athens.
Mid 2nd century BC.
Thought to represent
Attalus II of Pergamon.

National Archaeological
Museum, Athens.

See gallery 2, page 5.
 
Statue of the Greek sea god Poseidon from Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Statue of Poseidon

From the Altar of Zeus,
Pergamon. Circa 160 BC.

Pergamon Museum, Berlin.

See gallery 2, page 18.
 
History of
Pergamon
138-133 BC: Attalus III,
the last Attalid king
138-133 BC: Attalus III, the last Attalid king

Attalus III Philometor Euergetes (Άτταλος Γ' ο Φιλομήτωρ, Attalos Mother-Loving Benefactor, circa 170–133 BC) preferred studying medicine and botany to kingship, and having no male heir he decided to bequeath Pergamon and its extensive territories to the Roman Republic, presumably to prevent the kind of destructive wars of succession which had been tearing the Greek world apart since the death of Alexander the Great.

In Rome, the populist politician Tiberius Gracchus (162-133 BC) planned to use the inherited wealth of Pergamon to finance his radical land reforms, and even proposed selling off its artworks to raise capital. However these plans were thwarted by the rich and powerful noble families who controlled the Senate. Eventually they turned the Romans against Tiberius and murdered him and his followers.


See an inscription from the Sanctuary of Athena Nikephoros
with letters of Attalus II and Attalus III concerning priesthoods
in Pergamon on Pergamon gallery 1, page 20.
 
Head of Attalus III, the last Attalid king of Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Marble head thought to be
a portrait of Attalus III of Pergamon. Circa 150 BC.
From the Dionysos Temple
at the Pergamon Theatre.

Pergamon Museum, Berlin.
SMB, AvP VII 132.
 
 
History of
Pergamon
133-129 BC: the pretender Eumenes III
Many of Pergamon's subjects were opposed to rule by Rome, which was slow to seize control, causing a power vacuum.

The pretender Aristonicus (Αριστόνικος, Aristonikos) claimed to be the illegitimate son of Eumenes II and took the throne of Pergamon as Eumenes III. He offered the Greek cities freedom in his new state of Heliopolis (Sun City), and even promised to free all slaves. However he received limited support.

At first he successfully fought off the Romans, and in 133 BC defeated Consul Publius Licinius Crassus Dives Mucianus, who died during the battle. In 129 BC he was defeated by Marcus Perperna, who took him as a captive to Rome where he was paraded through the streets and executed by strangulation.

   
 
History of
Pergamon
From 129 BC: the Romans

The Astynomoi Law of Pergamon, inscription of the Roman period at My Favourite Planet

Detail of a limestone slab inscribed with the Astynomoi Law of Pergamon.
From the Lower Agora of the Pergamon Acropolis. Roman period. [15]

Bergama Archaeological Museum.
 
Following the defeat of Aristonicus, Pergamon's vast territories were divided among the Roman Republic, Pontus and Cappadocia. The cities under Roman control, at first styled "the free cities of Asia", became part of the new province of Asia with Pergamon as its capital.

Roman rule became increasingly unpopular in Anatolia, particularly due to the increased taxation and other restrictions on freedom, as well as the growing dominance of Roman representatives and Italic (Italian) businessmen. Capitalizing on this, in 88 BC Mithridates VI of Pontus was able to conquer much of the province and instigate a revolt against Rome, during which as many as 80,000-150,000 Italics were massacred.

In 86-85 BC Mithridates was defeated by Lucius Cornelius Sulla who consolidated Roman rule and reorganized the province. As part of the punishments Sulla imposed on Pergamon and the other Asian cities for supporting Mithridates, they were forced to pay the back-taxes due from the years of the revolt, causing considerable debt, impoverishment and financial stagnation in the region.

Pergamon gradually recovered financially and culturally. Although Augustus (Imperator Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus, 63 BC - 14 AD, reigned 27 BC - 14 AD), the first Roman Emperor, moved the capital of the province of Asia from Pergamon to Ephesus, he doubled the size of the city by building a new district, based on a grid system, below the Acropolis, on the banks of the Selinus river.

Several prestigious building projects were undertaken during the reigns of successive emperors, including a theatre, ampitheatre and stadium and the enormous temple now known as "the Red Basilica" in the lower city; the Trajaneum and several enhancements to the institutions of the Acropolis and extensions to the Asklepion healing centre. The water supply system was also improved by the building of an aqueduct.

The city was made the Neokoros, the official centre of the Imperial cult, for the province of Asia three times (see Pergamon gallery 1, page 6).
 
Marble bust of Roman Emperor Augustus from Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Emperor Augustus

(reigned 27 BC-14 AD).
Marble bust, Pergamon,
time of Augustus.

Istanbul Archaeological
Museum.

See gallery 2, page 6.
 
 
History of
Pergamon
Early Christianity
Pergamon was one of the seven churches of Asia addressed in the Book of Revelation, written by Saint John of Patmos (see our pages on Patmos, Greece). John referred to Pergamon as "the seat of Satan" (Revelation 2: 12-13).

According to tradition, Antipas, the first bishop of Pergamon, was martyred here around 92 AD.
 
Byzantine gargoyle from Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Byzantine marble gargoyle
water spout from the
Lower Agora, Pergamon.

Bergama Museum.
 
 
History of
Pergamon
Rediscovery and archaeology
The acropolis of Pergamus in 1882 by Thomas Allom at My Favourite Planet

"The acropolis of Pergamus", 1882, by English architect and landscape artist Thomas Allom [16].

A romanticized view of Pergamon, with a caravan crossing the Bakır Çayı river on the Roman bridge,
and the peaks of Madra Daği, here greatly exaggerated, soaring up behind the Pergamon Acropolis.
(Compare with the photo on gallery 1, page 3).
 
Section in preparation

 

Carl Humann, German engineer and architect at My Favourite Planet

Bust of Carl Humann
by Adolf Brütt [17]

Pergamon Museum, Berlin.
 
Theodor Wiegand, German archaeologist at My Favourite Planet

Bust of Theodor Wiegand
by Carl Blümel.

Pergamon Museum, Berlin.
 
Alexander Conze, German archaeologist at My Favourite Planet

Bust of Alexander Conze
by Fritz Klimsch [18].

Altes Museum, Berlin.
We are currently working to extend this history of Pergamon.
History of
Pergamon
Notes, references and links

1. Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus, 23–79 AD)

"... longeque clarissimum Asiae Pergamum"

Naturalis Historia (Natural History), published around 77-79 AD. Book V, chapter 33.

The Natural History, Book V, chapter 33. English translation, John Bostock, H.T. Riley.
Published by Taylor and Francis, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street, 1855. At Perseus Digital Library.
In Latin: Pliny the Elder: the Natural History, Liber V, xxxiii.
At Bill Thayer's LacusCurtius website.

2. The Hellenistic Age began with the conquests of Alexander the Great (356-323 BC). During this era Greek culture was spread widely but was also influenced by the art, science and ideas from the known world. It ended during the 2nd - 1st centuries BC, following the Roman take-over of what had been Alexander's empire (i.e. Greece and parts of the Balkans, Asia and north Africa), as well as Greek colonies around the Mediterranean and Black Sea. However, Roman culture continued to be influenced by Greek architecture, science, art, literature, philosophy and religion. Several prominent Romans, particularly emperors such as Hadrian, were keen to have themselves associated with this Greek cultural heritage.

3. Teuthrania in Homer's Odyssey

See the article about Homer's reference to Telephos, Eurypylos and the Ceteians
on gallery 2, page 1.

4. Pausanias (Παυσανίας), 2nd century AD Greek travel writer, thought to be from Lydia in Asia Minor. His only known book is Description of Greece (Ἑλλάδος περιήγησις).

Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 1, Chapter 11, Section 2. At Perseus Digital Library.

5. Herodotus (Greek: Ἡρόδοτος, circa 484 - circa 425 BC), "the Father of History",
Greek historian born in Halicarnassus, Caria (modern day Bodrum, Turkey).

Herodotus, The Histories, Volume I, Book I, 149. English translation by George Campbell Macaulay (1852–1915). Published in two volumes by MacMillan and Co., London and New York, 1890.

All nine books of The Histories are online in English and Greek at Project Gutenberg and Perseus Digital Library. The excellent Perseus version (English translation by A. D. Godley. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1920), annotated and with cross-reference links, presents a short section of a book on each web page, whereas the simpler Gutenberg layout (also with notes) displays an entire book on one page.

The Sacred Text Archive has a parallel text version of the History of Herodotus, with the Greek and English versions displayed side by side.

6. Xenophon of Athens (Ξενοφῶν, circa 430-354 BC), general, historian and philosopher; pupil of Socrates.

Anabasis (The March Up Country), Book 7, chapter 8, sections 8 - 23.
At Perseus Digital Library.

7. Bust of Xenophon in Bergama Archaeological Museum

Inv. No. VTS 65/615; Museum Inv. No. 784.
Height 49.5 cm.

The bust was found in 1965 along the colonnaded street leading to the Asklepieion. The right side of the head is badly damaged, but has been identified as a portrait of Xenophon by comparison with other similar busts made about the same time ("late Antonine period") and thought to be modelled on an original of the late 4th century BC:

A portrait herm bust of Xenophon in the Graeco-Roman Museum, Alexandria, Egypt, inscribed with the name Xenophon in Greek on the front of the herm;

A marble herm bust in the Prado, Madrid. Inv. No. 100-E.

Other portrait busts have also been found on the colonnaded street, including one of a philosopher, perhaps Socrates (also in Bergama Museum, Inv. No. 772).

8. Lysimachus, "King of Thrace"

Lysimachus was born in Pella, the capital of Macedonia, and was the son of Agathocles, a Thessalian noble and favourite of Alexander the Great's father Philip II. He only ruled over the Hellenized coastal areas of Thrace; much of the interior was still controlled by Thracian tribes. Seuthes III (Greek, Σεύθης, ruled circa 331-300 BC), king of the Odrysians of eastern Thrace, proved a challenge for Lysimachus. They engaged in at least two battles, the results of which were inconclusive, and it is thought that they made a peace treaty.

See A brief history of Thrace

9. Lysimachus' treasure in Pergamon

Strabo (Στράβων, 64/63 BC - circa AD 24 AD), Greek historian, geographer and philosopher from Amaseia in Pontus (today Amasya, Turkey).

The Geography of Strabo, Book 13, Chapter 4, Section 1. Edited by H. L. Jones. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA; William Heinemann Ltd, London, 1924. At Perseus Digital Library.

10. Names of the rulers of Pergamon

Scholars appear neither certain nor united about the etymology, meaning or significance of many ancient Greek names. Here are some of translations and interpretations of the names of Hellenistic rulers offered by various sources.

Alexander (Ἀλέξανδρος, Alexandros), from alexein, to defend, and andros, man; hence defender of mankind.

Lysimachus (Λυσίμαχος), from λυσις (lysis) a release, loosening, and μαχη (mache) battle. The name has been variously interpreted as describing one who makes war, literally "looses battle" (perhaps as in "Cry 'Havoc!', and let slip the dogs of war" in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar); "free battle"; "freedom fighter"; and even one who ends war by a "release from battle".

Seleucus (Σέλευκος, Seleukos), possibly from λευκος (leukos), bright, white; hence brilliant, shining.

Philetaerus (Φιλέταιρος), fond of one's comrades or the good comrade.

Eumenes (Ευμένης), favourable, benign, genial, propitious.

Attalos (Ἄτταλος), increased, nourished.

Aristonikos (Αριστόνικος), the best victor or gaining glorious victory.

11. Ptolemy Keraunos

Ptolemy Keraunos (Πτολεμαῖος Κεραυνός, Ptolemy Thunderbolt; died 279 BC), the eldest son of Ptolemy I of Egypt. When his younger half-brother Ptolemy (later Ptolemy II) was named heir to the throne in 282 BC he left Egypt and went to live at the court of Lysimachus. His half-sister Arsinoe (later Arsinoe II of Egypt) had married Lysimachus, and another sister Lysandra was the wife of Lysimachus' son Agathocles.

After the death of Lysimachus and Seleucus in 281 BC, he had himself acclaimed as king of Macedonia by the army and married Arsinoe. She plotted against him, and he killed two of her sons by Lysimachus (Lysimachus and Philip) in 279 BC. She fled to Samothraki where she took refuge. Shortly after Keraunos was captured and killed by the invading Gaulish leader Bolgios. Arsinoe returned to Egypt where she married her brother Ptolemy II.

12. The invention of parchment at Pergamon

In his encyclopedic work Natural History (Naturalis Historia), Pliny the Elder ascribes the story of the invention of parchment at Pergamon to the Roman scholar Varro (Marcus Terentius Varro, also known as Varro Reatinus, 116–27 BC), most of whose works have been lost.

The Natural History, Book XIII, chapter 21. English translation, John Bostock, H.T. Riley.
Taylor and Francis, London, 1855. At Perseus Digital Library.

13. Writing on animal skins

Herodotus writes that the Ionian name for paper was "skins" (διφθέραι, diphtherai), which he supposes went back to ancient times before papyrus was easily available, and that many "foreign peoples" still write on goat and sheep skins.

Herodotus, The Histories, Volume II, Book V, 58. At gutenberg.org (see note 5 above).
 
Marble statuette of a female dancer from Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Marble statuette of a female
dancer from Pergamon.

Hellenistic period, 150-30 BC.

Izmir Archaeological Museum.
Inv. No. 608.

14. Marc Antony and the Library of Pergamon

41-31 BC the Roman politician and general Mark Antony (Marcus Antonius, 83-30 BC) ruled the eastern half of the Roman Empire, which included Greece and Asia Minor, while Octavian (later to become Emperor Augustus) ruled the west.

If the accusation of Calvisius is true, Antony may have given the books from Pergamon's library to Cleopatra to replace those destroyed by the fire at the Library of Alexandria in 48 BC. Julius Caesar is said to have caused the fire accidentally when he burnt his own ships in Alexandria harbour as a tactical ploy. Read more about Antony and Cleopatra on Athens Acropolis gallery page 9.

Plutarch (Greek: Πλούταρχος; name as Roman citizen Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, Μέστριος Πλούταρχος, circa 46-120 AD), Greek historian, biographer and essayist, born in Chaeronea, Boeotia.

Plutarch, The Parallel Lives Vol.IX: The Life of Antony. Loeb Classical Library, 1920. At Bill Thayer's LacusCurtius: Into the Roman World, University of Chicago.

15. The Astynomoi Law of Pergamon

Also referred as the "Law of Astynomoi", "Astynomos Law" or "Astynomic Law", and in German as "die Astynomeninschrift von Pergamon".

The limestone slab was found shattered into 13 fragments by German archaeologists in 1901, in a house at the southeast of Pergamon's Lower Agora, where it had been used as flooring. The top left corner of the slab is missing, but otherwise it contains an almost complete inscription proclaiming the legislation concerning the powers, duties and responsibilites of the astynomoi (Ancient Greek, ἀστυνόμος, plural ἀστυνόμοι, municipal administration; from ἄστυ, city, and νόμος, law), civic officials charged to control the condition and maintenance of buildings, thoroughfares and waterworks. The modern Greek words αστυνομία (astynomia, police) and αστυνόμος (astynomos, policeman) are derived from this concept.

The law states who is responsible for the work and costs involved in maintaining public roads, streets and paths, water cisterns, springs, conduits, fountains, toilets, sewers and rubbish collection, as well as public and private boundary walls. The aim is evidently order and cleanliness, and the law specifically forbids clothes to be washed or animals to drink from public fountains. Stealing paving stones is also among activities prohibited.

Each astynomos was responsible for a particular zone, in which he was to record and report on cisterns in private houses, and ensure that owners kept them clean and covered. He was obliged to impose fixed fines on transgressors, and hand the money either to the civic treasurers or to those who suffered damage due to a neighbour's negligence; officials who failed to charge the fine or report to the authorities were themselves fined.

The office of astynomos existed in many Greek cities, particularly in Ionia. In the fourth century BC Athens had 10 astynomoi who were selected by lot. Aristotle mentions astynomoi as a type of official essential to the ideal city (Aristotle, Politics, Book VI, Section 1321b, lines 18-27. At Persus Tufts).

The inscription has been dated to the second century AD, probably during the time of Emperor Trajan or Hadrian. However, it is thought that the legislation itself may have originally been written in the time of the Attalid kings, in the second century BC, perhaps during the reign of Eumenes II (197-159 BC). The epigraphist Günther Klaffenbach (1890-1972), who wrote a study of the inscription in 1953, believed that the Attalid law was defunct by the Roman Imperial period, and that it was meant as a "summa honoraria", a dedication to the ancient office of the astynomoi, set up by an astynomos as a gift to the city.

The slab is made of light blue-grey limestone.

Width 105 cm, present height 82 cm, thickness 5 - 8.5 cm.

The upper left corner of the slab, containing the first 34 lines of column 1, is missing. The bottom of the slab has a roughly-cut edge.

237 lines of text have survived, written in 4 columns, each around 25 cm wide, with 35 letters per line. The law is arranged in paragraphs, similar to modern legislative clauses.

Inscription SEG 13 521 (= OGIS 483).

See:

H. von Prott and Walther Kolbe, Die Astynomeinschrift. Die Arbeiten zu Pergamon 1900-1901, in Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung. Band XXVII, 1902, pages 47-77. Beck und Barth, Athens, 1902. At archive.org.

Günther Klaffenbach, Die Astynomeninschrift von Pergamon, in Abhandlungen der Deutschen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, Klasse für Sprachen, Literatur und Kunst, Jahrgang 1953, Nummer 6, Pages 3-25, 2 plates. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin, 1954.

James H. Oliver, The date of the Pergamene Astynomos Law. Hesperia, Volume 24, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar. 1955), pages 88-92. American School of Classical Studies at Athens. At ascsa.edu.gr.

Sara Saba, Cisterns in the Astynomoi Law of Pergamon. Essay in Cynthia Kosso, Anne Scott, The Nature and Function of Water, Baths, Bathing, and Hygiene from Antiquity Through the Renaissance, pages 249-262. Brill, Leiden, 2009.

Sara Saba has recently written a new study of the Astynomoi Law, which I have unfortunately not yet seen:

Sara Saba, The Astynomoi Law from Pergamon: A New Commentary (Volume 6 of the series Die hellenistische Polis als Lebensform). Verlag Antike, Mainz 2012.
 
Bust of Marcus Antonius at My Favourite Planet

Marc Antony
 
Portrait head of Cleopatra VII of Egypt at My Favourite Planet

Cleopatra VII.
Marble head, 40-30 BC.

Altes Museum, Berlin.
Inv. No. 1976.10.

16. "The acropolis of Pergamus" by Thomas Allom

"The acropolis of Pergamus", 1882, by English architect and landscape artist Thomas Allom (1804-1872). Engraved by Archibald L. Dick (1805 - circa 1855).

From: Charlotte Mary Yonge (1823-1901), A pictorial history of the world's great nations, from the earliest dates to the present time. Selmar Hess, New York, circa 1882.

Volume 1      Volume 2      at archive.org.
 

17. Bust of Carl Humann in Berlin

Bust of Carl Humann by Adolf Brütt (1855-1939), Pergamon Museum, Berlin.

The bust was unveiled on 18 December 1901, when Kaiser Wilhelm II opened the first Pergamon Museum (demolished in 1908). In the present Pergamon Museum (opened 1930) it has been relegated to a back-lot, and has stood for years out of sight and inaccessible to the public, in a corridor leading to a lecture room behind the Pergamon Altar, opposite the bust of another German archaeologist, Theodor Wiegand (1864-1936) by Carl-Blümel (photo right). Wiegand also excavated at the Heraion on Samos (1910-1911) and at Pergamon (1927), and in 1898 rediscovered the site of the ancient Panionion, near the Turkish village of Güzelçamlı, on the coast opposite Samos (see Samos gallery page 29).

Currently the hall of the Pergamon Altar and the entire left wing of the Pergamon Museum are closed for renovation work until at least 2020.

18. Bust of Alexander Conze in Berlin

Archaeologist Alexander Conze (1831-1914) was Director of Ancient Sculptures in Berlin 1878-1886. He led the the excavations at Pergamon 1878-1886 for the Königliche Museen zu Berlin (Royal Museums, Berlin, now the State Museums, Berlin, SMB). He also led excavations at Samothraki for the Austrian Imperial Ministery of Culture and Education in 1873 and 1875.

His many publications include a catalogue of the Ancient sculptures in the Royal Collection of Classical Antiquities in Berlin, 1891.

Bronze bust made by Fritz Klimsch in 1913.

Altes Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. Sk 1974.
 
Carl-Blümel, German sculptor and archaeologist at My Favourite Planet

Bust of Carl-Blümel
(1893-1976),
German sculptor
and archaeologist.

Altes Museum, Berlin.
Inv. No. Sk 1977.
 
Panoramic view from the Pergamon Acropolis, Turkey at My Favourite Planet

Panoramic view from the west side of the Pergamon Acropolis.
Map, photos and articles: © David John

Additional photos: © Konstanze Gundudis

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have been attributed where applicable.

Please do not use these photos or articles without permission.

If you are interested in using any of the photos for your website,
blog or publication, please get in contact.

Higher resolution versions are available on request.

Some of the information and photos in this guide to Pergamon
originally appeared in 2004 on davidjohnberlin.de.
 
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photo essays about Turkey:

Istanbul Essentials part 1

Istanbul Essentials part 2

Istanbul Essentials part 3
with video

Ionian Spring part 1

Ionian Spring part 2

Ionian Spring part 3
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