The Acropolis Of Pergamon

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Pergamon, which was added to the World Cultural Heritage list in 2014, has been subjected to invasions and destructions throughout its history, but is one of the settlements that has been permanently inhabited and never lost its historical importance because of its strategic location. The settlement traces dates back to the prehistoric periods in the 7th, 6th and 5th centuries in the Bakırçay Plain where the ancient city of Pergamon was founded on the hill. The name Pergamon roots from “Perg“ or ”Berg“, which means “fortress” or “fortified location”. In 283 BC, Philetairos established his kingdom as the founder of the Attalid dynasty of Pergamon which continued to be a strong Kingdom politically, economically, and culturally for 150 years.

Upon King of Pergamon Attalos III’s will, the city, which was dominated by Rome in 133 BC, became the capital of the province of Asia. As the Roman Empire had begun to lose power and split into two since 3rd century BC, Pergamon began to form under the influence of a new religion –Christianity. Around 8th century AD Pergamon was under Arab invasions and around the beginning of 14th century it was absorbed into Beylik of Menteshe. In 1345, it was added to the Ottoman lands by Orhan Gazi and the Turkish period began in the city.

The author and philosopher Pilinius Secundus, who lived in the 1st century BC in Pergamon described the ancient city as “the most famous and respected city of Asia Minor”. Pergamon became an important settlement area in the ancient times because of successful urban planning despite its topographical disadvantage on a steep hill. Large sacred areas, public buildings, social structures and residences were placed in large areas opened with terracing method. It revealed its exemplary architectural development by courtyard structures in the peristyle system.

Pergamon city was divided into Upper Acropolis and Lower Acropolis. In the Upper Acropolis, there were the peristyle planned, rich decorated palaces of kings, Temple of Athena, which reflects the Doric architecture of the 4th century BC, the colossal statues of the Roman Emperor Traian and Hadrian and Temple of Traian, with its appealing architectural details. The Library of Pergamon was the most important library in the ancient world, with 200,000 volumes of books stored in rolled paper or as books in which both sides were written (Codex) using the new writing tool Pergamonians pamphlet (Pergamonae Chartae). In fact, the word “parchment” itself is derived from Pergamon because it was a discovery of Pergamonians.

During the time of Eumenes, the Pergamonians won a decisive victory against the Galatians and Seleucians in Magnesia in 180 BC and as a result of this victory, they built The Altar of Zeus, the greatest example of architecture in ancient cities. The altar was dedicated to Zeus and Athena and on the outer side of the altar is the most important work of the Pergamon sculpture school. The reliefs are among the most important works of the ancient world. The images of Zeus and Athena relief group includes Leto and her children the God of Light Apollo and the Goddess of Hunt Artemis; Helios together with his sisters the Goddess of the Dawn EOS and the Goddess of the Moon Selena; Goddess of the Night Nyx, Goddess of Discord Eris, Morai the Sisters of Faith, God Orion, Poseidon, Amphitrite, Nereus, Doris, Okeanus and Tethys.

The theatre which had space for around 10,000 people is one of the most famous theatres of ancient world with its structure placed on a steep slope and its architectural bond with the Temple of Dionysos.
Pergamon is an architectural success of the Pergamonians because during the Hellenistic period in order to supply the top of the citadel with water from the source in Madradağ mountains, they constructed a very effective high-pressure water pipe-line with a height of 900 meters, a length of 45 km and with 240 thousand ceramic pipes.
The Lower Acropolis contains the following structures; Sanctuary of Hera and Sanctuary of Demeter holy sites, the largest known gymnasium of the Hellenistic period, the Lower Agora, and social buildings such as house and shops.

With the increasing population during the reign of Eumenes II (197-1599 BC) the city’s 4 km city walls expanded into the lower slopes of the hill and from there to Bakırçay Plain. The Serapis Temple (the Red Basilica) and the Sanctuary of Asclepius are among the most important structures of this expansion.

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