HISTORY OF PERGAMON
After the death of Alexander the Great (323 B.C), Lysimachos, one of Alexander’s generals, chose Pergamon as the depository for his vast wealth, placing here 9,000 talents of gold under the guardianship of his lieutenant, Philetairos (283-263 B.C). Upon Lysimachos’s death, Philetairos retained this money for himself and with it founded the Pergamon monarchy which lasted 150 years. Pergamon later became the capital of a flourishing Hellenistic kingdom and one of the principal centers of Hellenistic civilisation. Philetariros extended his kingdom as far as the shores of The Marmara Sea. After Philetairos his nephew Eumenes I (263-241 BC) came into the power. He managed to preserve these frontiers by paying tribute to the Galatians. Attalos I (241-197 BC), the son of Eumenes I, defeated the Galatians in battle and began to use the title of King. Attalos was deeply interested in art and culture. The city was adorned with architectural splendours during his reign. Eumenes II( 197-159 B.C.) raised the Kingdom of Pergamon to its rank of one of the strongest states of Hellenistic times, by means of the close times he established with Rome. He also brought the city to the climax of its cultural prominence.
When Eumenes II died his brother Attalos II (159-138 B.C.) ruled the kingdom. The Kingdom die with AttalosIII ( 159-138 B.C.) and he bequeathed (133 BC) his domains to the Roman Empire. Pergamon continued to be a very important center during the Roman period. Pergamon became the center of a diocese in the Christian era, and one of the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse mentioned in Bible was located here. In Byzantine times, the city was surrounded by a new wall, constructed from the the remains of stone blocks, statues etc. dating from the Hellenistic and Roman eras. The city went through the Arab and finally the Turkish period in the 14th century.
Pergamon attained a high culture in the Hellenistic era, boasting an outstanding library that rivalled in importance that of Alexandria, a famous school of sculpture and excellent public buildings and monuments of which the Zeus Altar is the best example.
A young German engineer Carl Humann, who was engaged in building a road in Bergama in 1875 was told that a great quantity of loose stone was available among the ruins at the top of the hill behind the city. That which started as the need for road construction resulted in Humann’s archaeological studies and the uncovering of many beautiful pieces including the Zeus Altar and Gateway to the Sanctuary of Athena which were subsequently taken to the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.
The function of the acropolis in Pergamon was never the same as the function of the acropolis in Athens. In Athens everything was focused on religion, whereas in Pergamon it was on social and cultural activities, or in other words, daily life. As a result of this contrast, major buildings in Pergamon were reserved for public use in daily life. Even in the temples, religion was of secondary importance. Buildings had large areas for the public where they could meet, walk or join in social affairs. Pergamon was the first city to react against functional urbanism of Hippodamus preferring ornamental urbanism. Pergamenes agreed that functionalism was necessary, but that aesthetics were to be given even more consideration. The buildings of the Acropolis were designed to be seen from below and to impress those viewing the city from the valley.
Except for the Trajan Temple all the buildings were built in the Hellenistic period during which constructions were made of andesite and very rarely in marble.
In general, Heroon is a shrine dedicated to a deified hero. The Heroon in the Acropolis of Pergamon was the imperial cult or the shrine in which kings of Pergamon, especially Attalos I and Eumenes II, were worshipped.
It was a peristyle building made of andesite from the Hellenistic period.
The Sanctuary of Athena:
It was entered through a propylon which was built by Eumenes II. As written in its inscription, it was dedicated to victory-bringing Athena by King Eumenes. The entrance opens into a courtyard surrounded by three stoas of the Doric order. This also dates from the same period. At the corner near the theater was the Athena Temple in Doric order which was built earlier, in the 3C BC. It was built of andesite and stood on a crepidoma with two steps.
The Library of Pergamon,
The library built by Eumenes II, was the second of the three famous ancient libraries. It contained 200,000 volumes. A century later Mark Antony gave them to Cleopatra as a wedding present to be added to the collection of the library in Alexandria. The library building was next to the north stoa of the Athena Sanctuary. Most probably, the second floor of the stoa was at the same level with the first floor of the library. It had a large reading hall with many shelves all around, leaving an empty space between walls and shelves for the circulation of air to prevent humidity. Manuscripts were written on parchment then rolled or folded and put on shelves.
When the Egyptians prohibited the export of papyrus, the King of Pergamon ordered that a new material be found. The new discovery was "parchment", a fine material from sheep or goat skin, highly polished with pumice stone and slit into sheets. Therefore the name of Pergamon has been perpetuated and seen as synonymous with the word "parchment".
The Temple of Trajan
It was a 2C AD temple in Corinthian order, dedicated to Trajan, built by his successor Hadrian. Both emperors were worshipped there. The temple was built of marble, probably on the site of a previous Hellenistic building. Before the construction, the area was levelled off by using a successful arched and vaulted substructure. The temple is flanked by stoas on three sides, the one at the back being higher than the others. It was in Corinthian order to have a peripteros plan, with 9 by 6 columns.
It is said that the Theater in the acropolis of Pergamon is the steepest raked Hellenistic theater in the world. The cavea of the theater which consists of 80 rows of seats is divided into three sections by two diazomas. The capacity was 10,000 people. The construction material is andesite. Because it was originally a Hellenistic theater, there was not a permanent stage building and people sitting on the cavea could see outside and beyond the playing area. In the Hellenistic period, performances were held in a festive atmosphere and took a long time. People spent a lot of time in the theater, usually the minimum of a full day. Therefore, they never wanted to block their view of outside and the stage building, being made of wood, was portable. Square holes at the back of the orchestra were for the portable stage building. The theater was also used during the Roman period with some alterations.
The Zeus Altar
The finest altar ever built can be accepted as the Zeus Altar at Pergamon, of about 180 BC, which stands in its own precinct but, most unusually, without a temple. The altar, a marble offering-table, stood on an enormous stone plinth, which also supported the double colonnade of Ionic columns enclosing it on three sides. On the fourth side it was approached by a fine stairway, nearly 20 m / 65 ft wide.
Much of the structure and almost all of the friezes are now in Berlin. Decorated with vigorous friezes of life-size figures depicting a battle between gods and giants, its contemporary context is probably King Eumenes II’s celebration of his recent victories over the Gauls in Pontus and Bithynia. If this is so, then the context incorporates within its apparently straightforward mythology the King’s assertion of his own triumphant role as the defender of traditions against barbarians.
KIZIL AVLU (THE RED COURT)
This building was temple dedicated to Egyptian gods and goddesses , built in the 2nd century A.D. from the time of the Emperor Hadrian. In the Byzantine period it was converted into a basilica which was dedicated to St.John. It was one of the seven churches of apocalypse. It was damaged by Arabs in the 8th century A.D. The building is 60x26 metres and its court extends 260x110 metres. Because of the red brick, used to construct the building, it is called Red Court. There are two towers on the right and left sides. The tower on the left side is used as a mosque today.
Pergamon: One of the Seven Churches of Revelation
(12) "Write this letter to the leader of the church in Pergamos:
"This message is from him who wields the sharp and double-bladed sword. (13) I am fully aware that you live in the city where Satan’s throne is, at the center of satanic worship; and yet you have remained loyal to me and refused to deny me, even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you by Satan’s devotees.
(14) "And yet I have a few things against you. You tolerate some among you who do as Balaam did when he taught Balak how to ruin the people of Israel by involving them in sexual sin and encouraging them to go to idol feasts. (15) Yes, you have some of these very same followers of Balaam among you!
(16) "Change your mind and attitude, or else I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
(17) "Let everyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: Every one who is victorious shall eat of the hidden manna, the secret nourishment from heaven; and I will give to each a white stone and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one else knows except the one receiving it.
Asklepieion was a sanctuary and a healing center built in the name of the god of healing, Asklepios. It was similar to the one in Epidauros in Greece and the in the island Cos. Although this place was set up in the 4C BC, it had its peak during the Roman period. In mythology Asklepios, son of Apollo, the god of healing, was a famous physician. His mother, Coronis, a princess of Thessaly, died when he was an infant. Apollo entrusted the child’s education to Chiron, a centaur, who taught Asklepios the healing arts. Asklepios, when grown, became so skilled in surgery and the use of medicinal plants that he could even restore the dead back to life. Hades, ruler of the dead, became alarmed at this and complained to Zeus, who killed Asklepios with a thunderbolt. The healing center, Asclepieum, had been something very similar to a modern natural healing clinic. Patients were given exercises, drugs, herbal remedies, or could take the honey cure, drink the waters of the spring or be treated by suggestion. Here the dreams were analysed 2000 years before Sigmond Freud. They could walk among the trees and be calmed by the scent of pine. Over the gate had been inscribed the words: "In the name of the Gods, Death is forbidden to enter". Snakes were sacred to Asklepios because of their power to renew themselves. That is why there was a relief of snakes at the entrance to the sacred area of the medical center symbolising health. Among the famous physicians of the Asclepieum was Galen.
Galen (c.131-199 AD)
Galen was the most outstanding physician of antiquity after Hippocrates. His anatomical studies on animals and observations of how the human body functions dominated medical theory and practice for 1400 years. Galen was born in Pergamon. A shrine to the healing god Asklepios was located in Pergamon and there young Galen observed how the medical techniques of the time were used to treat the ill or wounded. He received his formal medical training in nearby Smyrna and then travelled widely, gaining more medical knowledge.
Galen dissected many animals, particularly goats, pigs and monkeys, to demonstrate how different muscles are controlled at different levels of the spinal cord. He also showed that the brain controls the voice. Galen showed that arteries carry blood, disproving the 400-year-old belief that arteries carry air. Galen was also highly praised in his time as a philosopher. He closely followed the view of the philosopher Aristotle that nothing in nature is superfluous. Galen’s principal contribution to philosophic thought was the concept that God’s purposes can be understood by examining nature. Galen’s observations in anatomy remained his most enduring contribution. His medical writings were translated by Arab scholars in the 9th century.
The Colonnaded Road connected Asclepieum to the city. Originally it was 820 m / 2,700 ft. Today only a small part of this road is visible. The Propylon was located at the end of the colonnaded road and dates back to 2nd century AD. It had 12 steps and opened into a large courtyard which was surrounded by stoas on three sides. Stoas originally had Ionic capitals but after an earthquake in the 2C AD, some Corinthian capitals were also used. The Library was for both educational and entertainment purposes with many medical books for the physicians and other books for use by the patients. The Theater is a small building in Roman style with a capacity of 3,500 people. It was mainly used for performances to entertain the patients when not receiving treatment. The Sacred Fountain provided water believed to have had healing power. Sleeping rooms were used to make the patients sleep and analyse their dreams. The Tunnel is a vaulted subterranean passageway. It is 80 m / 262 ft long. Under the floor ran water which provided relaxing sounds. On the ceiling there are 12 windows to provide sunlight inside the tunnel. The Round Treatment Center was a two-storied building. Today only the lower floor remains. The walls and the floor were covered with marble and the roof was made of wood. Water coming through the tunnel, recesses for washing and the sun-terrace show that this room was also used for the treatment of patients. The Temple of Asklepios was erected by the Consul of the time in the 2C AD. The main part of the temple was cylindrical and covered by a dome. The floor and the walls were decorated with marble mosaics. There were many statues of gods and deities related to health including those of Asklepios himself. This building can be accepted as one of the earliest structures with a dome in Anatolia.