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My Favourite Planet > English > Middle East > Turkey > Pergamon > gallery 1
Pergamon gallery 1 Pergamon 14 of 37

The Temple of Trajan in the Trajaneum of the Pergamon Acropolis, Turkey at My Favourite Planet

Pergamon Acropolis: the Temple of Trajan, 2nd century AD.

The sacred precinct, or temenos (τήμενος), in which the Temple of Trajan stands is known as the Trajaneum, and was originally dedicated to Zeus Philios (Latin, Jupiter Amicalis) and Roman Emperor Trajan (Marcus Ulpius Nerva Traianus Augustus, 53-117 AD, reigned 98-117 AD). The epiphet "Philios" (friendly), previously not known at Pergamon, may signify the patronage of Zeus over the bond of friendship between Rome and the Greek cities of Asia.

The site of the temenos, built on a west-facing slope, was made level by the construction of a 68 × 58 metre terrace supported by a row of eleven arched tunnels (see gallery 1, pages 9 - 11).

Bulding of the Trajaneum began in the early 2nd century AD, during the reign of Trajan, and was completed by his successor and adopted son Emperor Hadrian (reigned 117-138 AD), who was also worshipped here. [1]

Hadrian travelled through Asia Minor in 123-124 AD, and inscriptions and the renaming of temples in his honour indicate that he visited Pergamon. He named Pergamon as the neokoros, the official centre for the imperial cult of Trajan and Zeus Philios (and inevitably himself) for the Roman province of Asia. This was the second time (of three) that the city was awarded the status of neokoros. [3]

The 18 metre-wide, white marble temple was Corinthian peristyle (columns all around), with six columns front and back, and nine along each side. It faced west, and the sacrificial altar was placed some distance from the front, close to the edge of the terrace.

During archaeological excavations, the remains of cult statues of Trajan (see photo, above right), Hadrian and Zeus Philios were discovered here, as well as a colossal statue of Hadrian which is now in the Bergama Archaeological Museum.

The temenos was enclosed on its north, east and south sides by stoas (roofed and colonnaded walkways). As with the Sanctuary of Athena Nikephoros, the west side was left open so that the temple could be seen and admired from below the Acropolis and the surrounding countryside.

Colossal marble head of Roman Emperor Trajan from the Trajaneum, Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Emperor Trajan.
Colossal marble portrait head
of an acrolithic statue from the Trajaneum. [2] Circa 115-130
AD. Height of head 49 cm.

Pergamon Museum, Berlin.
Inv. No. AvP VII 281.

Roman Emperor Trajan at My Favourite Planet

Restored portrait head of
Trajan, early 2nd century AD
(allegedly from Venice),
placed on an unconnected
ancient nude statue.

Altes Museum, Berlin.
Inv. No. Sk 355.

Portrait head of Emperor Trajan from Athens at My Favourite Planet

Marble portrait head of Trajan
wearing a laurel wreath.
Height 58.5 cm.

Agora Museum, Athens.
Inv. No. S 347.

Roman Emperor Hadrian at My Favourite Planet

Marble bust Emperor Hadrian
in military dress. From Hadrian's
Villa, Tivoli. Circa 125-130 AD.

British Museum, London.
Inv. No. 1805,0703.95
(Sculpture 1896).

Model of the Temple of Trajan on the Pergamon Acropolis, Pergamon Museum, Berlin at My Favourite Planet

Model of the Trajaneum on the west side of the Pergamon Acropolis, in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin.

See an interactive photo of the whole model of the Pergamon Acropolis on gallery 1, page 4.

Reconstruction drawing of the Trajaneum, Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Reconstruction drawing of the Trajaneum.

Image source: Hermann Stiller, Altertümer von Pergamon, Band V 2, Tafeln: Das Traianeum,
Tafel XXXIV. W. Spemann, Berlin, 1895. At University of Heidelberg Digital Library.

An inscribed statue base honouring Aulus Iulius Charax of Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Marble statue base with an inscription of the boulē (council) of Pergamon,
"metropolis of Asia and twice neokoros", honouring Aulus Iulius Charax,
grandson or great-grandson of Aulus Claudius Charax. 150-200 AD.

In the garden of the Bergama Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. A 55/61.

One of two inscribed marble statue bases, one honouring Aulus Claudius Charax the other Aulus Iulius Charax, found by chance in Bergama in 1957 during the digging of a foundation for the house of Haci Alâattin Bey, at Hadji Yamak Sokagı No. 10. This area was part of the Roman quarter of the lower city of ancient Pergamon, established by Emperor Augustus (see History of Pergamon).

ἡ βουλὴ
τῆς μητροπόλεως
τῆς Ἀσίας καὶ δὶς
νεωκόρου πρώτης
Α(ὖλον) Ἰούλ(ιον) Χάρακα,
Α(ὔλου) Κλ(αυδίου) Χάρακος

The council
of the metropolis
of Asia and twice
first neokoros
city [honours]
Aulus Julius Charax
descendant of
Aulus Claudius Charax

Inscription SEG 18:558; AE 1961, 321.

Height 93.5 cm, width 55.5 cm, depth 49 cm.

The word ἔκγονον (ekgonon, born of) is usually translated as offspring (sprung from) or child (male or female), but was also used for grandchild or descendant.

The historian and politician Aulus Claudius Charax (Charax of Pergamon) financed the propylon (monumental gateway) of the Pergamon Asclepieion (see gallery 1, page 35).
of Trajan
Notes, references and links

1. Hadrian worshipped at the Trajaneum

Emperor Trajan (Marcus Ulpius Nerva Traianus Augustus, 53-117 AD), reigned 98-117 AD).

An inscription found at Pergamon is a copy of a letter written by Hadrian in 137 AD, in which he turns down the request of the Pergamese to build him a temple, but consents to the placing of a statue of him in the temple of his father, the Trajaneum.

2. Acrolithic statues from the Trajaneum

Acrolithic statues were made of wood and stone. The visible flesh parts, head, arms, hands, legs and feet were made of stone, while the clothed torso was made of wood.

The colossal head of Trajan was found in the cella of the temple in November/December 1879.
Height 73 cm; width 42 cm, depth 47 cm; Height of head 49 cm.

A similar colossal marble head of Hadrian from an acrolithic statue was found in the cella at the same time. It is even more severely damaged than that of Trajan, with much of the jaw missing.
Pergamon Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. AvP VII 282.
Height 73 cm, width 42 cm, depth 47 cm; Height of head 53 cm.

Both heads are displayed on the parapet of a reconstructed colonnade of the Trajaneum portico in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin (see gallery 1 page 18).

3. Pergamon's three neokoroi

The title "neokoros" also referred to the priest of the cult. From the Greek νεωκόρος, meaning temple-keeper or temple warden. Derived from koreo, to sweep, and hence one who sweeps and cleans a temple; temple servant; one who has charge of a temple, to keep and adorn it (a sacristan).

From the time of Augustus, the first Roman emperor, the Greek cities of Asia Minor, such as Pergamon, Smyrna and Ephesus, competed for the honour and prestige of becoming the official centre of the imperial cults for the new Roman province of Asia.

Pergamon's first neokoros, or "provincial temple" was the Temple of Augustus and Roma (see gallery 2, page 6). The third neokoros was the Temple of Aesclepieios at the Asklepieion, also dedicated to the Emperor Caracalla (see gallery 1, page 35).
Maps, photos and articles: © David John,
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Additional photos: © Konstanze Gundudis

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See also
The Cheshire Cat Blog
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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