Pergamon or Pergamum was an ancient Greek city in modern-day Turkey, in Mysia, north-western Anatolia, 16 miles from the Aegean Sea, located on a promontory on the north side of the river Caicus (modern day Bakircay), that became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon during the Hellenistic period, under the Attalid dynasty, 281–133 BC. Today, the modern city of Bergama is located nearby.
The Attalid kingdom was the rump state left after the collapse of the Kingdom of Thrace.
The Attalids, the descendants of Attalus, father of Philetaerus who came to power in 281 BC following the collapse of the Kingdom of Thrace, were among the most loyal supporters of Rome in the Hellenistic world. Under Attalus I (241-197 BC), they allied with Rome against Philip V of Macedon, during the first and second Macedonian Wars, and again under Eumenes II (197-158 BC), against Perseus of Macedon, during the Third Macedonian War. For support against the Seleucids, the Attalids were rewarded with all the former Seleucid domains in Asia Minor.
The Attalids ruled with intelligence and generosity. Many documents survive showing how the Attalids would support the growth of towns through sending in skilled artisans and by remitting taxes. They allowed the Greek cities in their domains to maintain nominal independence. They sent gifts to Greek cultural sites like Delphi, Delos, and Athens. They defeated the invading Celts. They remodeled the Acropolis of Pergamum after the Acropolis in Athens. When Attalus III (138-133 BC) died without an heir in 133 BC he bequeathed the whole of Pergamon to Rome, in order to prevent a civil war.
The first Christian bishop of Pergamon, Antipas, was believed to have been martyred here in 92 AD..
The Great Altar of Pergamon is in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin. The base of this altar remains on the upper part of the Acropolis. It was this altar, believed dedicated to Zeus, that John of Patmos referred to as "Satan's Throne" in his Book of Revelation .
Other notable structures still in existence on the upper part of the Acropolis include:
The Hellenistic Theater with a seating capacity of 10,000. This had the steepest seating of any known theater in the ancient world.
The Sanctuary of Trajan (also known as the Trajaneum)
The Sanctuary of Athena
The Royal palaces
The Heroon - a shrine where the kings of Pergamon, particularly, Attalus I and Eumenes II, were worshipped.
The Temple of Dionysus
The Upper Agora
The Roman baths complex
Pergamon's library on the Acropolis (the ancient Library of Pergamum) is the second best in the ancient Greek civilisation. When the Ptolemies stopped exporting papyrus, partly because of competitors and partly because of shortages, the Pergamenes invented a new substance to use in codices, called pergaminus or pergamena (parchment) after the city. This was made of fine calf skin, a predecessor of vellum. The library at Pergamom was believed to contain 200,000 volumes, which Mark Antony later gave to Cleopatra as a wedding present. The lower part of the Acropolis has the following structures:
the Upper Gymnasium
the Middle Gymnasium
the Lower Gymnasium
the Temple of Demeter
the Sanctuary of Hera
the House of Attalus
the Lower Agora and
the Gate of Eumenes
Three kilometers south of the Acropolis was the Sanctuary of Asclepius (also known as the Asclepeion), the god of healing. In this place people with health problems could bathe in the water of the sacred spring, and in the patients' dreams Asclepius would appear in a vision to tell them how to cure their illness. Archeology has found lots of gifts and dedications that people would make afterwards, such as small terracotta body parts, no doubt representing what had been healed. Notable extant structures in the Asclepeion include:
the Roman theater
the North Stoa
the South Stoa
the Temple of Asclepius
a circular treatment center (sometimes known as the Temple of Telesphorus)
a healing spring
an underground passageway
the Via Tecta and
Pergamon's other notable structure is the Serapis Temple (Serapeum) which was later transformed into the Red Basilica complex (or Kizil Avlu in Turkish), about one kilometer south of the Acropolis. It consists of a main building and two round towers. In the first century AD, the Christian Church at Pergamon inside the main building of the Red Basilica was one of the Seven Churches to which the Book of Revelation was addressed .
Epigonus (3rd century BC) Greek sculptor
Aeulius Nicon (2nd century BC) Greek architect and builder
Galen (ca. 129-200/216) Greek physician
List of Roman domes
Hansen, Esther V. (1971). The Attalids of Pergamon. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press; London: Cornell University Press Ltd. ISBN 0-8014-0615-3.
Kosmetatou, Elizabeth (2003) "The Attalids of Pergamon," in Andrew Erskine, ed., A Companion to the Hellenistic World. Oxford: Blackwell: pp. 159174. ISBN 1-4051-3278-7.
Rosa Valderrama, "Pergamum": brief history