Hellenistic Mosaic, Pergamon

A History of Pergamum: Beyond Hellenistic Kingship

In this monograph, Richard Evans describes the history of the city of Pergamum (Pergamon) in western Asia Minor, once the capital of the Attalid kings. The Attalids were initially minor dynasts from an obscure, almost tribal corner of the Greek world and their founder, Philetaerus, was probably a eunuch, who became a vassal to the Seleucid Empire at the end of the complicated wars of the Diadochi in the early 3 rd century BC. Evans’ monograph updates such earlier works as The Attalid Kingdom: a constitutional history by R.E. Allen (Clarendon Press, 1983).

A central theme of Evans’ book is how the Attalids managed to transform their less than auspicious background into a magnificent display of Hellenistic kingship. Increasing their independence during civil wars in the Seleucid Empire, the Attalids were hailed as saviours of the Greeks (from the terror of the Galatian tribes) and patrons of Hellenistic culture. Pergamum became renowned for its library, second only to Alexandria’s, and for its impressive architecture from the royal period, as displayed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

King Eumenes II sided with Rome against the Seleucid invasion of Greece in the 190s BC, and was rewarded with vast territories in Asia Minor after Rome’s decisive victory at Magnesia. But as Roman vassals, the late Attalids did much to further weaken the Seleucid Empire and other Hellenistic states, and so were partly responsible for the gradual subjugation of the Greeks to Rome. Pergamum was not always a loyal ally Evans analyses the devious diplomatic contacts with the last Macedonian kings, enemies of Rome. This diminished Roman trust in the dynasty, but in the long run that would have happened anyway: the Senate was generally wary of kings and eventually disposed of all their Hellenistic vassal-rulers. In 133 BC, king Attalus III bequeathed Pergamum to Rome, and after a series of rebellions were crushed, western Asia Minor became a Roman province.

Even though this province (Asia) suffered from heavy Roman taxation and anti-Roman outbursts were sometimes brutally quelled (for instance during the Mithradatic wars of the 1 st century BC), Pergamum retained a certain prosperity. Throughout the Roman period the city remained a prominent cultural hub, which housed leading physicians such as Galen and several philosophers as late as the Neo-Platonists in late antiquity. The account of Pergamum’s later history ends with an overview of Roman administration and activities of the emperors in Asia Minor, until the late 4 th century AD. Finally, Evans describes the city’s geography and architecture, the characters and images of the rulers, and some prominent citizens.

As evident from this synopsis, A History of Pergamum spans almost all of Classical Antiquity. (The first chapter includes Pergamum’s earliest history, which stretches back to Homeric times and the city’s mythical – if somewhat dull – founder Pergamus, grandson of Achilles. The “real” story begins with Xenophon’s visit to the region c.400 BC, as related in the Anabasis.) Such a long stretch of history calls for several competences, some quite specialized. Evans uses literature studies (classical and modern), as well as epigraphic, archaeological and some numismatic evidence to build his theses.

As Evans is an expert on Roman history, it comes as no surprise that the chapters that deal with Roman affairs are well researched, seamlessly weaving minutiae such as the status and dates of Roman envoys into a wider history about the general policies of the Roman takeover of Asia Minor, which was a long and complicated process. Most other themes, including the city’s architecture and temples, Hellenistic kingship and the ruler cults of the Roman Emperors in Asia Minor, are also well treated.

The only problematic section is Evans’ analysis of Pergamum’s early relations to the Hellenistic states (in chapter 1), which focuses too much on the direct Seleucid-Pergamene relationship. In the 3 rd century BC, Asia Minor was a complicated patchwork with several smaller, semi-independent cities and regions. The Seleucids were the strongest power, but the Ptolemies, with their naval supremacy, held bases all along the coast. There were several conflicts, the chronologies of which are not well established. For instance, Strabo, Geography 13.4.1-2 briefly relates how Eumenes I defeated the Seleucid king Antiochus I in battle. Evans dismisses this as a conflation with some later battle (pp. 14-16), as he points out that the Seleucid main army counted several tens of thousands of troops, while Eumenes was at the time only a minor dynast who also was a loyal Seleucid vassal. However, the Seleucids only assembled such massive armies in times of utmost emergency, and Strabo may have omitted that Eumenes fought at the head of a coalition, perhaps including the Ptolemies. Other rulers in the region, such as the Bithynian kings, successfully fought Seleucid armies. Given this background, the battle against Antiochus I does not necessarily seem unrealistic.

Evans’ account of the crisis in the Seleucid Empire after 246 BC, when Antiochus II was probably poisoned by his older queen Laodice, 1 may also have benefitted from a wider analysis of the balance of power. Antiochus’ younger queen was a Ptolemaic princess, and when she was assassinated, her brother Ptolemy III invaded the Seleucid Empire, nearly destroying it, and conquered key cities in Asia Minor (which Evans does not mention, p.20). The new king, Seleucus II, also lost Asia Minor to his rebelling brother, Antiochus Hierax, but Hierax and his Galatian allies were in their turn defeated by Attalus I.

This chapter may suffer from a structural problem: Pergamum’s route to independence from the Seleucid Empire is difficult to understand without first going into more detail about the nature and extent of Seleucid hegemony in Asia Minor in general, especially as the written sources are quite incomplete ‒ which Evans points out. A more in-depth approach could have been to study the decline of Seleucid coinage in Asia Minor, based on the new standard work Seleucid Coins, 2 which could have been matched against the output of early Attalid coins, or other civic coins in Pergamum’s vicinity. That may have given a deeper understanding of the resources of the kingdom, and its enemies such as Hierax.

But these are the author’s priorities this is a monograph, not an encyclopedia. A majority of readers is probably more interested in the Roman period and Hellenistic cultural history in general, and A History of Pergamum is recommended as an informative and well-written work.

Appendices include chronologies and lists of Roman officials, black and white photographs, comprehensive notes, references and index.

Table of Contents

1: A Beginning and an End.
2: The Ally of Rome.
3: Old and New Horizons.
4: Ruler Cults and Physicians.
5: The Journey East and a New World.
6: Images of a City.

1. Evan dismisses this, (p.170, n. 51), claiming that Antiochus II was in his sixties and died of old age. But he was only about 40, probably born in the 280s BC to Antiochus I and Stratonice, daughter of Demetrius Poliorcetes.

2. Seleucid Coins pt I, Arthur Houghton and Catherine Lorber, New York: ANS/CNG, 2002. References to Antiochus Hierax, loss of Seleucid cities in Asia Minor etc. under Seleucus II are based on this encyclopedia.

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The Hellenistic Age

Alexander’s empire was a fragile one, not destined to survive for long. After Alexander died in 323 B.C., his generals (known as the Diadochoi) divided his conquered lands amongst themselves. Soon, those fragments of the Alexandrian empire had become three powerful dynasties: the Seleucids of Syria and Persia, the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Antigonids of Greece and Macedonia.

Though these dynasties were not politically united–since Alexander’s death, they were no longer part of any Greek or Macedonian empire–they did share a great deal in common. It is these commonalities, the essential “Greek-ness” of the disparate parts of the Alexandrian world–that historians refer to when they talk about the Hellenistic Age.

The Hellenistic states were ruled absolutely by kings. (By contrast, the classical Greek city-states, or polei, had been governed democratically by their citizens.) These kings had a cosmopolitan view of the world, and were particularly interested in amassing as many of its riches as they could. As a result, they worked hard to cultivate commercial relationships throughout the Hellenistic world. They imported ivory, gold, ebony, pearls, cotton, spices and sugar (for medicine) from India furs and iron from the Far East wine from Syria and Chios papyrus, linen and glass from Alexandria olive oil from Athens dates and prunes from Babylon and Damaskos silver from Spain copper from Cyprus and tin from as far north as Cornwall and Brittany.

They also put their wealth on display for all to see, building elaborate palaces and commissioning art, sculptures and extravagant jewelry. They made huge donations to museums and zoos and they sponsored libraries (the famous
libraries at Alexandria and Pergamum, for instance) and universities. The university at Alexandria was home to the mathematicians Euclid, Apollonios and Archimedes, along with the inventors Ktesibios (the water clock) and Heron (the model steam engine).

Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World

The Hellenistic period—the nearly three centuries between the death of Alexander the Great, in 323 B.C., and the suicide of the Egyptian queen Kleopatra VII (the famous "Cleopatra"), in 30 B.C.—is one of the most complex and exciting epochs of ancient Greek art. The unprecedented geographic sweep of Alexander's conquests changed the face of the ancient world forever, forging diverse cultural connections and exposing Greek artists to a host of new influences and artistic styles. This beautifully illustrated volume examines the rich diversity of art forms that arose through the patronage of the royal courts of the Hellenistic kingdoms, placing special emphasis on Pergamon, capital of the Attalid dynasty, which ruled over large parts of Asia Minor. With its long history of German-led excavations, Pergamon provides a superb paradigm of a Hellenistic capital, appointed with important civic institutions—a great library, theater, gymnasium, temples, and healing center—that we recognize today as central features of modern urban life.

The military triumphs of Alexander and his successors led to the expansion of Greek culture out from the traditional Greek heartland to the Indus River Valley in the east and as far west as the Strait of Gibraltar. These newly established Hellenistic kingdoms concentrated wealth and power, resulting in an unparalleled burst of creativity in all the arts, from architecture and sculpture to seal engraving and glass production. Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World brings together the insights of a team of internationally renowned scholars, who reveal how the art of Classical Greece was transformed during this period, melding with predominantly Eastern cultural traditions to yield new standards and conventions in taste and style.

Hellenistic period

The Kingdom of Pergamon, shown at its greatest extent in 188 BC

Lysimachus, King of Thrace, took the territory in 301 BCE. Still, soon after his officer Philetaerus expanded the town, the kingdom of Thrace collapsed in 281 BCE, and Philetaerus became an autonomous ruler, establishing the Attalid dynasty. His family managed Pergamon from 281 until 133 BCE. The region of Philetaerus was limited to the area encompassing the city itself, but Eumenes I could expand them greatly. After the Battle of Sardis in 261 BCE against Antiochus I, Eumenes secured the region down to the coast and some way inward. Thus, the town became the center of a territorial range, but Eumenes did not take the royal title. In 238, his successor Attalus I, defeated the Galatians. Pergamon had paid tribute under Eumenes I. Attalus after that declared himself the leader of an entirely independent Pergamene kingdom, which went on to reach its most incredible power and territorial extent in 188 BCE.

The Attalids became some of Rome’s most loyal supporters in the Hellenistic world. Under Attalus I (241 BCE –197 BCE), they allied with Rome against Philip V of Macedon during both the Macedonian Wars.

Under the brothers Attalus II and Eumenes II, Pergamon reached its zenith and was restored on a monumental scale. Until 188 BCE, it had not evolved significantly since its founding by Philetaerus and covered 52 acres (21 hectares). After this age, a bulky new city wall was built, 2.5 mi (4 kilometers long) and encompassing a region of almost 220 acres (90 hectares). The Attalids’ goal was to create a second Athens, a Greek world’s artistic and cultural hub. They renovated the Acropolis of Pergamon after the Acropolis in Athens. Epigraphic records show how the Attalids preserved towns’ growth by remitting taxes and sending in skilled artisans. They allowed the Greek towns in their domains to maintain formal independence. They sent donations to Greek educational sites like Delos, Delphi, and Athens. The Library of Pergamon was famous as second only to the Alexandria Library.

Over-life-size portrait head, probably of Attalus I, from early in the reign of Eumenes II

When Attalus III died without a successor in 133 BCE, he granted Pergamon’s whole to Rome. This was questioned by Aristonicus, who claimed to be Attalus III’s sibling and led a fierce uprising against the Romans with Blossius, a popular Stoic philosopher. He enjoyed success for a period, killing and defeating the Roman consul P. Licinius Crassus and his men, but he was overthrown in 129 BC by the consul M. Perperna. Pergamon’s kingdom was split between Pontus, Rome, and Cappadocia, with the majority of its territory becoming the new Roman territory of Asia. The town itself was declared free and was briefly the province’s capital before it was assigned to Ephesus.

  • Publisher &rlm : &lrm Bloomsbury Academic Reprint edition (March 13, 2014)
  • Language &rlm : &lrm English
  • Paperback &rlm : &lrm 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 &rlm : &lrm 1472509994
  • ISBN-13 &rlm : &lrm 978-1472509994
  • Item Weight &rlm : &lrm 12.2 ounces
  • Dimensions &rlm : &lrm 6.14 x 0.51 x 9.21 inches

Top reviews from the United States

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A summary of the review on StrategyPage.Com:

'Evans, a Roman specialist, brings together current scholarship on the rise and decline of Pergamum (also known as Pergamon), a city in northwestern Asia Minor. Around 280 BC one Philetaerus, a eunuch, gained power in the city, and, allied with the Seleucids in the wars of the Successors (322-275 BC), turned it into the capital of a flourishing little kingdom. Under the leadership of Philetaerus’ kin, the Attalids, Pergamum became the principal power in Anatolia, and a staunch ally of Rome. The last of the Attalids willed Pergamum to Rome in 133 BC, and the kingdom became the core of the Province of Asia, while the city flourished for centuries, with a library second only to that of Alexandria and a population by c. AD 150 of perhaps 200,000. The city suffered numerous blows during the declining years of the Roman Empire, and passed once more into obscurity with the collapse of Byzantine power in Anatolia in the eleventh century. Evans uses the story of the Attalids and the rise of Pergamum to make some important observations about kingship in the Hellenistic era and also to illustrate the ways in which Rome acquired new territories and integrated them into their empire. The book is extensively documented, well written, and far more readable than many scholarly works, so that it would prove enjoyable for anyone with even a casual interest in ancient history.'

For the full review, see StrategyPage.Com

Top reviews from other countries

I began reading chapter 1, but found the writing style to be rather confusing and ended up lost from all the waffle and jumbed information content. So I decided to jump ahead to find out what information had been written up about a major event in Pergamene history at the time of their alliance with Rome:
薅 - Completion of the Nicephorium and celebration of the first quinquennial panhellenic Nicephoria"

So I went to the body of text that talks about this, and all I found was this:
"On the other hand, Eumenes at the end of the 180s gained from these local conflicts because he remained Rome’s favourite in the region and in 181 was able to celebrate a pan-Hellenic Nicephoria in celebration of his accomplishments and begin embellishing his city (see Chapter 6)."

So I then went to Chapter 6 but, again, there was very little:
"The Nicephoria was inaugurated in 181 BC, and the festival was recognized as panhellenic by the Delphic amphictyony."

Another disjointed fragment of information was found here:
"Thus the striking of a tetradrachm, perhaps to celebrate the inauguration of the festival to Athena Nikephoros, dated to about 181 BC, but this adds to the imagery of Pergamum with its allusion to the Nicephorium noted in the discussion above."

Ancient Hellenistic Art

Although the classical art of the Golden Age of Greece, particularly Athens, seems to get all the glory, the art of the Hellenistic period is rich, varied, and dramatically humanistic. Hellenistic Greek art began with the death of Alexander in 323 B.C. and most scholars concur that it lasted until 31 B.C. Some of the world’s most treasured sculpture, like Venus de Milo and Winged Victory of Samothrace, dates from this era.

Alexander and his ruling generals brought Greek culture to the vast lands it conquered. Regional artistic traditions merged with this new Greek influence to produce art that was stylistically different from region to region. Thus, it would be difficult to define Hellenistic art without noting the wide variations of art under its mantle. In many ways, Hellenistic art grew from the strong foundation of classical Greek art. Yet, classical art often focused on gods and religion, while Hellenistic art appears more concerned with the human form and human expression. As Greek armies transformed the political and cultural landscape of their world, artists transformed art with the incredible historic feats of armies to commemorate them in the world’s first museums and libraries.

Religious subject matter was important to Hellenistic artists, but a whole new range of subject material was open to them. People of all ages, and especially the newly introduced peoples of different ethnicities, became favorite subjects for artists. Also, rather than beauty, Hellenistic artists strove to convey human emotions through their works. Artists continued to render their forms with great attention to detail and to showcase them as close to nature as they could. Especially in sculpture, artists wanted to create works that could be admired from all sides such as the Bronze Statuette of a Veiled and Masked Dancer (created between the third and second centuries B.C.).

Art and architecture were extraordinarily important to the planners of new city states that were cropping up all over the Mediterranean. Pergamon, for example, illustrates the Hellenistic ideal to work with the natural terrain of the landscape and to build accordingly. Hellenistic builders and artists were compelled to build large and in a style of grandeur. And while public works were produced for new cities, temples, etc…private art was also being created to adorn the homes of wealthy patrons.

Mosaic art rose to great heights during the Hellenistic period as evidenced by artists like Sosos of Pergamon and scholars believe that painting was equally important in this period, but few examples of painting have survived the ravages of time. A recent archaeological find in the former kingdom of Macedonia depicts a tomb frieze of royal hunt that has been termed magnificent for its attention to scale and remarkable realism.

Although ceramic art, like vase painting, declined during the Hellenistic period, many minor arts thrived. Glass blowing, jewelry making, and metallic art were just some of the favorite minor arts practiced by Greek artisans. Hellenistic art, as applied to places like Syria, Persia, Babylonia, and Egypt, witnessed strong Greek influence on all of the art forms—an influence that would continue to strongly influence the subsequent evolution of Western art.

Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World

June 9, 2016 &ndash The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art is showing the exhibition &ldquoPergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World&rdquo featuring many important loans from abroad. Among the objects there are also coins from the American Numismatic Society. The exhibition runs through 17 July 2016 at The Tisch Galleries (Gallery 899), second floor.

Small Statue of Alexander the Great astride Bucephalos. Roman, Late Republican or Early Imperial period, second half of the 1st century B.C. copy of a Greek original of ca. 320-300 B.C. Bronze. H. 19 1/8 (48.6 cm), L. 18 1/2 in. (47 cm). Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples (1996).

The conquests of Alexander the Great transformed the ancient world, making trade and cultural exchange possible across great distances. Alexander&rsquos retinue of court artists and extensive artistic patronage provided a model for his successors, the Hellenistic kings, who came to rule over much of his empire.
For the first time in the United States, a major international loan exhibition focuses on the astonishing wealth, outstanding artistry, and technical achievements of the Hellenistic period (323-30 B.C.) &ndash the three centuries between Alexander and Cleopatra. &ldquoPergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World&rdquo brings together more than 265 exquisite objects that were created through the patronage of the royal courts of the Hellenistic kingdoms, with an emphasis on the ancient city of Pergamon. Examples in diverse media &ndash from marble, bronze, and terracotta sculptures to gold jewelry, vessels of glass and engraved gems, and precious metals and coins &ndash reveal the enduring legacy of Hellenistic artists and their profound influence on Roman art. The ancient city of Pergamon (now known as Bergama, in present-day Turkey) was the capital of the Attalid Dynasty that ruled over large parts of Asia Minor.

The exhibition is made possible by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Betsy and Edward Cohen /Areté Foundation. Additional support is provided by Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman, Renée Belfer, Diane Carol Brandt, Gilbert and Ildiko Butler, Mary and Michael Jaharis, and The Vlachos Family Fund. It is supported by an Indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Fragmentary Colossal Head of a Youth. Greek, Hellenistic period, 2nd century B.C. Marble. H. 22 7/8 in.(58 cm). Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (AvP VII 283). Image: © SMB / Antikensammlung.

The exhibition represents a historic collaboration between The Met and the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, whose celebrated sculptures comprise approximately one-third of the works on view. Numerous prominent museums in Greece, the Republic of Italy, other European countries, Morocco, Tunisia, and the United States are also represented, often through objects that have never before left their museum collections.

Alexander III. Silver tetradrachm. 323 BC – 321 BC, Babylon. ID 1990.1.1. © Photo: American Numismatic Society.

In the first gallery the exhibition displays select Greek coins from the American Numismatic Society collection, &hellip

Alexander III. Silver Decadrachm, 323 BC – 322 BC, Babylon. ID 1959.254.86. © Photo: American Numismatic Society.

&hellip including a remarkable silver &ldquoPoros&rdquo decadrachm &hellip

Alexander III. Silver tetradrachm. 323 BC – 321 BC, Babylon. ID 1995.51.68. © Photo: American Numismatic Society.

&hellip and two silver tetradrachms struck in relation to Alexander the Great&rsquos Indian campaign.

Rhyton in the form of a Centaur. Greek, Seleucid, Hellenistic period, ca. 160 B.C. Silver with gilding. H. 22 cm. Antikensammlung, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (VIIa 49).

After the military triumphs of Alexander the Great and his successors, the influence of Greek culture was felt from the Indus River valley to the Straits of Gibraltar. The concentration of wealth and power in the newly established Hellenistic kingdoms &ndash the Ptolemaic, Seleucid, Attalid, and Antigonid &ndash and the sovereign realm of the kings of Syracuse in Sicily fostered an unparalleled burst of creativity in all of the arts. The melding of Classical Greek with predominantly Eastern cultural traditions brought about new standards and conventions in taste and style.

Mosaic Emblèma with Itinerant Musicians. Roman, Late Republican period, 2nd-1st century B.C. H. 18 7/8 in. (48 cm), W. 18 1/8 in. (46 cm). Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples (inv. no. 9985)).

The exhibition begins with Alexander, whose court sculptor Lysippos was one of the most innovative and influential artists of his time. He alone was permitted to create official portrait sculptures of the king. Although no works by Lysippos survive, the exhibition features fine later copies, as well as Hellenistic art influenced by his groundbreaking style. A series of large-scale portraits of major Hellenistic rulers from the Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum &ndash never before shown in the United States &ndash represents the largest group of Hellenistic royal portrait sculpture from a single archaeological context. In addition, recently excavated works from Macedonia suggest the sumptuous lifestyle and elaborate funerary practices of Hellenistic royalty.

The Akropolis of Pergamon. By Friedrich (von) Thiersch, 1882. Pen and ink with watercolor on canvas. H. 78 in. (198 cm), W. 11 ft. 53/4 in. (350 cm). Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Graph 91). Image: © SMB / Antikensammlung.

With its extensively excavated upper and lower citadel, nearby Asklepieion (healing sanctuary), and graves outside the city walls, Pergamon is one of the best-preserved examples of a royal capital of the Hellenistic period. A selection of historical archaeological materials &ndash original finds, a field notebook, photographs, technical drawings, and watercolors &ndash as well as two 19th-century panoramic paintings convey Pergamon&rsquos long history as an archaeological site.

Hair Ornament with Bust of Athena. Gold, red garnets, blue enamel. Greek, Hellenistic period, 2nd century B.C.D. 11.1 cm. Athens, Benaki Museum (inv. no. 1556).

The exhibition features the most recent effort to bring the ancient citadel to life, a 360-degree panorama by the artist Yadegar Asisi. Many years in the making and reflecting current scholarship, Asisi&rsquos panorama of Pergamon in 129 AD was the focus of a 2011 exhibition in Berlin. The patronage of the Hellenistic kings led to the development of new institutions &ndash libraries and museums, in particular &ndash that have become pillars of modern civilization. The concept of art history and the practice of connoisseurship also began at this time. Pergamon&rsquos sanctuary of Athena, goddess of wisdom, is represented by the 13-foot Hellenistic marble statue of Athena Parthenos, newly restored for this exhibition. The importance of the epic poet Homer in Hellenistic times is highlighted by means of the allegorical sculptural relief known as the &ldquoApotheosis of Homer,&rdquo which was made to celebrate the victor of a poetry competition.

Portrait of a Man. Greek, Late Hellenistic period, early 1st century B.C. Bronze. H. 12 3/4 in. (32.5 cm). National Archaeological Museum, Athens (X 14612). Image: © Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs/Archaeological Receipts Fund (photographs by Giannis Patrikianos)).

At the height of their powers in the third and second centuries B.C., the Attalid rulers of Pergamon controlled a large territory of Asia Minor. The accomplishments of the Attalid kings are showcased through royal monuments sculptural reliefs of military trophies from the Sanctuary of Athena at Pergamon illustrate the spoils of war and actual military equipment from the period, embellished with dynastic and religious symbolism, demonstrate the skilled artistry of Hellenistic armorers. A highlight of the exhibition are the sculptural elements from the Great Altar at Pergamon &ndash whose dramatic style was a radical departure from earlier styles and influenced much of later European art. Sculptures from the roof of the Great Altar, a selection of slabs from the Telephos Frieze, and jewel-like architectural elements that decorated its inner open-air chamber, together with sculptural fragments from the monumental Gigantomachy frieze, convey the awe-inspiring power of this unique sculptural monument.

The Vienna Cameo. Greek (Ptolemaic), Early Hellenistic period, 278-270/69 B.C. Ten-layered onyx (Indian sardonyx). H. 41/2 in. (11.5 cm), W. 4 in. (10.2 cm). Antikensammlung, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (IXa 81).

Opulent luxury items in various media were produced by artisans for royalty and other elites. Images of the Attalid royal family give a face to the people who hosted elegant banquets with sophisticated entertainment in royal palaces. The practice of cameo engraving &ndash invented in the Hellenistic period &ndash is represented by one of the largest and most spectacular examples known: The &ldquoVienna Cameo&rdquo depicts a king and queen from Ptolemaic Egypt richly attired and imbued with divine symbolism. Exquisite ancient glass, gold and silver vessels for banqueting and religious rituals, coins with royal portraits, engraved gems, and jewelry from all parts of the Hellenistic world reveal the mastery achieved by Hellenistic artisans in the employ of royalty. A small selection of actual furnishings evokes the lavish décor of the palaces themselves, which would have included such elements as mosaic floors decorative sculpture furniture of wood, marble, and bronze and painted stucco walls featuring figural scenes.

Statue of a Roman General (The Tivoli General). Roman, Late period, ca. 80-60 B.C. Marble. H. 74 in. (188 cm). cm. Palazzo Terme, Rome (inv. 106513). Su concessione del Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo – Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma.

Rome became a dominant power in the Eastern Mediterranean and developed into a major center for Hellenistic art in the first century B.C. Roman intervention and conquest in the east was a long and slow process, beginning as early as 229 B.C., when the first Roman army crossed the Adriatic Sea. When Attalos III &ndash the last ruler of the Attalid dynasty &ndash bequeathed Pergamon to Rome on his death in 133 B.C., Rome&rsquos presence in Asia Minor was strengthened further. The bronze portrait of the so-called &ldquoWorried Man,&rdquo excavated on the Greek island of Delos, is an eloquent testament to the turbulent times. Several major new sculptural types, such as the &ldquoSleeping Hermaphrodite,&rdquo are displayed with an emphasis on examples that appealed to Roman tastes. The circulation of works of art is represented through material from late Hellenistic shipwrecks and, most notably, a selection of the Athens National Archaeological Museum&rsquos important finds from the Antikythera shipwreck in Greek waters, along with finds from the Mahdia shipwreck off the Tunisian coast. The magnificent &ldquoBorghese Krater,&rdquo a type represented in the Mahdia ship&rsquos cargo, is an outstanding example of the new decorative art being created by Greek sculptors for sumptuous Roman villas.

Stater of Mithridates VI Eupator Dionysos. Greek, Late Hellenistic period, 86-85 B.C. Gold. Diam. 1 1/8 in. (2.11 cm), Wt. 0.3 oz. (8.45 g). Numismatic Museum, Athens (NM BE 717a/1998). Image: © Epigraphic and Numismatic Museum, Athens, Greece.

The complex history of the formation of the Roman Empire is presented through portraits of historical figures, including Mithradates Eupator, Pompey, Julius Caesar, and Cleopatra. The exhibition concludes with the Roman Emperor Augustus and the late Hellenistic rulers. Of particular interest is the exquisite sculpture of Juba II, who was brought to Rome as part of Caesar&rsquos triumph over Numidia, educated there, and later restored to the throne by Augustus as a client king. Although the power of the Hellenistic kingdoms came to an end in the late first century B.C. with the defeat of Cleopatra and Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium, the innovations of Hellenistic artists fostered by their royal patrons would influence Roman Imperial art for centuries.

Exhibition Catalogue

The exhibition is accompanied by a lavishly illustrated catalogue suitable for scholars and the general public. Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press, the book includes groundbreaking research by specialists. The catalogue is available for purchase in The Met Store ($65, hardcover).
The catalogue is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, James and Mary Hyde Ottaway, Mary and Michael Jaharis, and the Jenny Boondas Fund.

This text appeared first on the website of the Metropolitan Museum and is re-published here courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum.

For further information on the exhibition go to the Met website.

CoinsWeekly has published a report on what Pergamon is looking like today. To read more about this wonderful excavation, click here.


This fragment was originally part of the border of one of the most fascinating and famous ancient mosaics, the so-called Doves of Pliny. It depicts four doves perched on the edge of a metal bowl filled with water. The reflection of the doves can be seen on the surface of the water. The subject demands the highest skills of the mosaicist to show the different materials - metal, water, feathers - and reflections in an illusionist way, taking the technique to its very limits. The motif was first invented by the Hellenistic mosaic artist Sosos of Pergamon (active 2nd century BC). Natural historian Pliny the Elder (25-79) described it in his The Natural History as an example of perfect illusionism in the art of mosaics.

The fragment at the V&A was taken from the outer border of the Doves of Pliny mosaic discovered near Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli in 1737. The central panel is now in the Capitoline Museums in Rome. In the 18th century the outer border was cut into several small panels of similar size and used as diplomatic gifts. The V&A fragment exemplifies the illusionist effect with its naturalistically depicted floral motifs and two rows of beads.

Border fragment of the so-called 'Doves of Pliny' mosaic

The fragment at the V&A was taken from the Doves of Pliny mosaic that was discovered near Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli by Monsignor Giuseppe Alessandro Furietti (1685-1764) on 19 April 1737. Shortly afterwards it was lifted from the ground. This process was facilitated by the fact that the mosaic was mounted on a stone slab as so-called emblema, a very fine picture-like pavement mosaic. This might suggest that the mosaic was transferred to Hadrian's villa in the early 2nd century AD, but not made for it.

There is ongoing debate among scholars about the date and place of origin of the Doves of Pliny from Hadrian's villa. The majority maintains nowadays that it is not a Roman copy, but a Hellenistic work contemporary to Sosos's mosaic, possibly even the original.

Analysis in September 2010 (Dr Cristina Boschetti, University of Nottingham) revealed that the V&A fragment comprises tesserae (the small cubes of which mosaics are made) of different materials: apart from stone, also glass and faïence pieces were used. This range of materials is unusual for mosaics from Hadrian's time as is the minuscule size of the tesserae. Comparable mosaics in terms of material, style and quality were made in Hellenistic Pergamon.

The central figural mosaic was in the collection of Pope Clement XIII (1693-1769) and is now in the Capitoline Museums in Rome (Musei Capitolini, MC402). The outer border was divided into panels of similar size, each comprising three floral elements. These were presented as diplomatic gifts to important rulers of the period, among them Louis XV of France (1710-1774) and Augustus the Strong (1670-1733). Six fragments survive in European collections, including in The Hague, Dresden, Paris and in the V&A.

The mosaic entered the V&A in 1857, shortly after the foundation of the museum, when ancient mosaics were collected to inspire contemporary artists and craftsmen. It was stolen in the second half of the 20th century. It was discovered in a Berlin collection in the 1990s and returned to the V&A.

Historical significance: The Doves of Pliny fragment is part of a mosaic composition that has been famous for more than two millennia, and has been frequently copied from the Hellenistic period onwards. The virtuosity of its creation and the use of glass tesserae are very similar to Roman micromosaics dating from the late 18th century onwards. It is very likely that the Doves of Pliny inspired the promotion and development of this technique. The subject of the central panel was and is frequently reproduced in micromosaics. The Gilbert Collection on loan to the V&A comprises several examples which are displayed alongside the fragment in the Rosalinde & Arthur Gilbert Galleries at the V&A.


Pergamon lies on the north edge of the Caicus plain in the historic region of Mysia in the northwest of Turkey. The Caicus river breaks through the surrounding mountains and hills at this point and flows in a wide arc to the southwest. At the foot of the mountain range to the north, between the rivers Selinus and Cetius, there is the massif of Pergamon which rises 335 metres above sea level. The site is only 26 km from the sea, but the Caicus plain is not open to the sea, since the way is blocked by the Karadağ massif. As a result, the area has a strongly inland character. In Hellenistic times, the town of Elaia at the mouth of the Caicus served as the port of Pergamon. The climate is Mediterranean with a dry period from May to August, as is common along the west coast of Asia Minor. [4]

The Caicus valley is mostly composed of volcanic rock, particularly andesite and the Pergamon massif is also an intrusive stock of andesite. The massif is about one kilometre wide and around 5.5 km long from north to south. It consists of a broad, elongated base and a relatively small peak - the upper city. The side facing the Cetius river is a sharp cliff, while the side facing the Selinus is a little rough. On the north side, the rock forms a 70 m wide spur of rock. To the southeast of this spur, which is known as the 'Garden of the Queen', the massif reaches its greatest height and breaks off suddenly immediately to the east. The upper city extends for another 250 m to the south, but it remains very narrow, with a width of only 150 m. At its south end the massif falls gradually to the east and south, widening to around 350 m and then descends to the plain towards the southwest. [5]

Pre-Hellenistic period Edit

Settlement of Pergamon can be detected as far back as the Archaic period, thanks to modest archaeological finds, especially fragments of pottery imported from the west, particularly eastern Greece and Corinth, which date to the late 8th century BC. [6] Earlier habitation in the Bronze Age cannot be demonstrated, although Bronze Age stone tools are found in the surrounding area. [7]

The earliest mention of Pergamon in literary sources comes from Xenophon's Anabasis, since the march of the Ten Thousand under Xenophon's command ended at Pergamon in 400/399 BC. [8] Xenophon, who calls the city Pergamos, handed over the rest of his Greek troops (some 5,000 men according to Diodorus) to Thibron, who was planning an expedition against the Persian satraps Tissaphernes and Pharnabazus, at this location in March 399 BC. At this time Pergamon was in the possession of the family of Gongylos from Eretria, a Greek favourable to the Achaemenid Empire who had taken refuge in Asia Minor and obtained the territory of Pergamon from Xerxes I, and Xenophon was hosted by his widow Hellas. [9]

In 362 BC, Orontes, satrap of Mysia, based his revolt against the Persian Empire at Pergamon, but was crushed. [10] Only with Alexander the Great was Pergamon and the surrounding area removed from Persian control. There are few traces of the pre-Hellenistic city, since in the following period the terrain was profoundly changed and the construction of broad terraces involved the removal of almost all earlier structures. Parts of the temple of Athena, as well as the walls and foundations of the altar in the sanctuary of Demeter go back to the fourth century.

Possible coinage of the Greek ruler Gongylos, wearing the Persian cap on the reverse, as ruler of Pergamon for the Achaemenid Empire. Pergamon, Mysia, circa 450 BC. The name of the city ΠΕΡΓ ("PERG"), appears for the first on this coinage, and is the first evidence for the name of the city. [11]

Coin of Orontes, Achaemenid Satrap of Mysia (including Pergamon), Adramyteion. Circa 357-352 BC

Hellenistic period Edit

Lysimachus, King of Thrace, took possession in 301 BC, but soon after his lieutenant Philetaerus enlarged the town, the kingdom of Thrace collapsed in 281 BC and Philetaerus became an independent ruler, founding the Attalid dynasty. His family ruled Pergamon from 281 until 133 BC: Philetaerus 281–263 Eumenes I 263–241 Attalus I 241–197 Eumenes II 197–159 Attalus II 159–138 and Attalus III 138–133. The domain of Philetaerus was limited to the area surrounding the city itself, but Eumenes I was able to expand them greatly. In particular, after the Battle of Sardis in 261 BC against Antiochus I, Eumenes was able to appropriate the area down to the coast and some way inland. The city thus became the centre of a territorial realm, but Eumenes did not take the royal title. In 238 his successor Attalus I defeated the Galatians, to whom Pergamon had paid tribute under Eumenes I. [12] Attalus thereafter declared himself leader of an entirely independent Pergamene kingdom, which went on to reach its greatest power and territorial extent in 188 BC.

The Attalids became some of 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. In the Roman–Seleucid War against the Seleucid king Antiochus III, Pergamon joined the Romans' coalition and was rewarded with almost all the former Seleucid domains in Asia Minor at the Peace of Apamea in 188 BC. Eumenes II supported the Romans again, against Perseus of Macedon, in the Third Macedonian War, but the Romans did not reward Pergamon for this. On the basis of a rumour that Eumenes had entered into negotiations with Perseus during the war, the Romans attempted to replace Eumenes II with the future Attalus II, but the latter refused. After this, Pergamon lost its privileged status with the Romans and was awarded no further territory by them.

Image of Philetaerus on a coin of Eumenes I

The Kingdom of Pergamon, shown at its greatest extent in 188 BC

Over-life-size portrait head, probably of Attalus I, from early in the reign of Eumenes II

Nevertheless, under the brothers Eumenes II and Attalus II, Pergamon reached its apex and was rebuilt on a monumental scale. Until 188 BC, it had not grown significantly since its founding by Philetaerus, and covered c. 21 hectares (52 acres). After this year, a massive new city wall was constructed, 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) long and enclosing an area of approximately 90 hectares (220 acres). [13] The Attalids' goal was to create a second Athens, a cultural and artistic hub of the Greek world. They remodeled the Acropolis of Pergamon after the Acropolis in Athens. Epigraphic documents survive showing how the Attalids supported the growth of towns by 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. The Library of Pergamon was renowned as second only to the Library of Alexandria. Pergamon was also a flourishing center for the production of parchment (the word itself, a corruption of pergamenos, meaning "from Pergamon"), which had been used in Asia Minor long before the rise of the city. The story that parchment was invented by the Pergamenes because the Ptolemies in Alexandria had a monopoly on papyrus production is not true. [14] The two brothers Eumenes II and Attalus II displayed the most distinctive trait of the Attalids: a pronounced sense of family without rivalry or intrigue - rare amongst the Hellenistic dynasties. [15] Eumenes II and Attalus II (whose epithet was 'Philadelphos' - 'he who loves his brother') were even compared to the mythical pair of brothers, Cleobis and Biton. [16]

When Attalus III died without an heir in 133 BC, he bequeathed the whole of Pergamon to Rome. This was challenged by Aristonicus who claimed to be Attalus III's brother and led an armed uprising against the Romans with the help of Blossius, a famous Stoic philosopher. For a period he enjoyed success, defeating and killing the Roman consul P. Licinius Crassus and his army, but he was defeated in 129 BC by the consul M. Perperna. The kingdom of Pergamon was divided between Rome, Pontus, and Cappadocia, with the bulk of its territory becoming the new Roman province of Asia. The city itself was declared free and was briefly the capital of the province, before it was transferred to Ephesus.

Roman period Edit

In 88 BC, Mithridates VI made the city the headquarters in his first war against Rome, in which he was defeated. At the end of the war, the victorious Romans deprived Pergamon of all its benefits and of its status as a free city. Henceforth the city was required to pay tribute and accommodate and supply Roman troops, and the property of many of the inhabitants was confiscated. The members of the Pergamene aristocracy, especially Diodorus Pasparus in the 70s BC, used their own possessions to maintain good relationships with Rome, by acting as donors for the development of city. Numerous honorific inscriptions indicate Pasparus’ work and his exceptional position in Pergamon at this time. [17]

Pergamon still remained a famous city and the noteworthy luxuries of Lucullus included imported wares from the city, which continued to be the site of a conventus (regional assembly). Under Augustus, the first imperial cult, a neocorate, to be established in the province of Asia was in Pergamon. Pliny the Elder refers to the city as the most important in the province [18] and the local aristocracy continued to reach the highest circles of power in the 1st century AD, like Aulus Julius Quadratus who was consul in 94 and 105.

Yet it was only under Trajan and his successors that a comprehensive redesign and remodelling of the city took place, with the construction a Roman 'new city' at the base of the Acropolis. The city was the first in the province to receive a second neocorate, from Trajan in AD 113/4. Hadrian raised the city to the rank of metropolis in 123 and thereby elevated it above its local rivals, Ephesus and Smyrna. An ambitious building programme was carried out: massive temples, a stadium, a theatre, a huge forum and an amphitheatre were constructed. In addition, at the city limits the shrine to Asclepius (the god of healing) was expanded into a lavish spa. This sanctuary grew in fame and was considered one of the most famous therapeutic and healing centers of the Roman world. In the middle of the 2nd century, Pergamon was one of the largest cities in the province, along with these two, and had around 200,000 inhabitants. Galen, the most famous physician of antiquity aside from Hippocrates, was born at Pergamon and received his early training at the Asclepeion. At the beginning of the third century, Caracalla granted the city a third neocorate, but the decline had already set in. During the crisis of the Third Century, the economic strength of Pergamon finally collapsed, as the city was badly damaged in an earthquake in 262 and was sacked by the Goths shortly thereafter. In late antiquity, it experienced a limited economic recovery.

Byzantine period Edit

The city gradually declined during Late Antiquity, and its settled core contracted to the acropolis, which was fortified by Emperor Constans II ( r . 641–668 ). [19] In AD 663/4, Pergamon was captured by raiding Arabs for the first time. [19] As a result of this ongoing threat, the area of settlement retracted to the citadel, which was protected by a 6-meter-thick (20 ft) wall, built of spolia.

During the middle Byzantine period, the city was part of the Thracesian Theme, [19] and from the time of Leo VI the Wise ( r . 886–912 ) of the Theme of Samos. [20] The presence of an Armenian community, probably from refugees from the Muslim conquests, is attested during the 7th century, from which the emperor Philippikos ( r . 711–713 ) hailed. [19] [20] In 716, Pergamon was sacked again by the armies of Maslama ibn Abd al-Malik. It was again rebuilt and refortified after the Arabs abandoned their Siege of Constantinople in 717–718. [19] [20]

It suffered from the attacks of the Seljuks on western Anatolia after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071: after attacks in 1109 and in 1113, the city was largely destroyed and rebuilt only by Emperor Manuel I Komnenos ( r . 1143–1180 ) in c. 1170 . It likely became the capital of the new theme of Neokastra, established by Manuel. [19] [20] Under Isaac II Angelos ( r . 1185–1195 ), the local see was promoted to a metropolitan bishopric, having previously been a suffragan diocese of the Metropolis of Ephesus. [20]

With the expansion of the Anatolian beyliks, Pergamon was absorbed into the beylik of Karasids shortly after 1300, and then conquered by the Ottoman beylik. [20] The Ottoman Sultan Murad III had two large alabaster urns transported from the ruins of Pergamon and placed on two sides of the nave in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. [21]

Pergamon, which traced its founding back to Telephus, the son of Heracles, is not mentioned in Greek myth or epic of the archaic or classical periods. However, in the epic cycle the Telephos myth is already connected with the area of Mysia. He comes there following an oracle in search of his mother, and becomes Teuthras' son-in-law or foster-son and inherits his kingdom of Teuthrania, which encompassed the area between Pergamon and the mouth of the Caicus. Telephus refused to participate in the Trojan War, but his son Eurypylus fought on the side of the Trojans. This material was dealt with in a number of tragedies, such as Aeschylus' Mysi, Sophocles' Aleadae, and Euripides' Telephus and Auge, but Pergamon does not seem to have played any role in any of them. [22] The adaptation of the myth is not entirely smooth.

Thus, on the one hand, Eurypylus who must have been part of the dynastic line as a result of the appropriation of the myth, was not mentioned in the hymn sung in honour of Telephus in the Asclepieion. Otherwise he does not seem to have been paid any heed. [23] But the Pergamenes made offerings to Telephus [24] and the grave of his mother Auge was located in Pergamon near the Caicus. [25] Pergamon thus entered the Trojan epic cycle, with its ruler said to have been an Arcadian who had fought with Telephus against Agamemnon when he landed at the Caicus, mistook it for Troy and began to ravage the land.

On the other hand, the story was linked to the foundation of the city with another myth - that of Pergamus, the eponymous hero of the city. He also belonged to the broader cycle of myths related to the Trojan War as the grandson of Achilles through his father Neoptolemus and of Eetion of Thebe through his mother Andromache (concubine to Neoptolemus after the death of Hector of Troy). [26] With his mother, he was said to have fled to Mysia where he killed the ruler of Teuthrania and gave the city his own name. There he built a heroon for his mother after her death. [27] In a less heroic version, Grynos the son of Eurypylus named a city after him in gratitude for a favour. [28] These mythic connections seem to be late and are not attested before the 3rd century BC. Pergamus' role remained subordinate, although he did receive some cult worship. Beginning in the Roman period, his image appears on civic coinage and he is said to have had a heroon in the city. [29] Even so, he provided a further, deliberately crafted link to the world of Homeric epic. Mithridates VI was celebrated in the city as a new Pergamus. [30]

However, for the Attalids, it was apparently the genealogical connection to Heracles that was crucial, since all the other Hellenistic dynasties had long established such links: [31] the Ptolemies derived themselves directly from Heracles, [32] the Antigonids inserted Heracles into their family tree in the reign of Philip V at the end of the 3rd century BC at the latest, [33] and the Seleucids claimed descent from Heracles' brother Apollo. [34] All of these claims derive their significance from Alexander the Great, who claimed descent from Heracles, through his father Philip II. [35]

In their constructive adaptation of the myth, the Attalids stood within the tradition of the other, older Hellenistic dynasties, who legitimized themselves through divine descent, and sought to increase their own prestige. [36] The inhabitants of Pergamon enthusiastically followed their lead and took to calling themselves Telephidai ( Τηλεφίδαι ) and referring to Pergamon itself in poetic registers as the 'Telephian city' ( Τήλεφις πόλις ).

The first mention of Pergamon in written records after ancient times comes from the 13th century. Beginning with Ciriaco de' Pizzicolli in the 15th century, ever more travellers visited the place and published their accounts of it. The key description is that of Thomas Smith, who visited the Levant in 1668 and transmitted a detailed description of Pergamon, to which the great 17th century travellers Jacob Spon and George Wheler were able to add nothing significant in their own accounts. [37]

In the late 18th century, these visits were reinforced by a scholarly (especially ancient historical) desire for research, epitomised by Marie-Gabriel-Florent-Auguste de Choiseul-Gouffier, a traveller in Asia Minor and French ambassador to the Sublime Porte in Istanbul from 1784 to 1791. At the beginning of the 19th century, Charles Robert Cockerell produced a detailed account and Otto Magnus von Stackelberg made important sketches. [38] A proper, multi-page description with plans, elevations, and views of the city and its ruins was first produced by Charles Texier when he published the second volume of his Description de l’Asie mineure. [39]

In 1864/5, the German engineer Carl Humann visited Pergamon for the first time. For the construction of the road from Pergamon to Dikili for which he had undertaken planning work and topographical studies, he returned in 1869 and began to focus intensively on the legacy of the city. In 1871, he organised a small expedition there under the leadership of Ernst Curtius. As a result of this short but intensive investigation, two fragments of a great frieze were discovered and transported to Berlin for detailed analysis, where they received some interest, but not a lot. It is not clear who connected these fragments with the Great Altar in Pergamon mentioned by Lucius Ampelius. [40] However, when the archaeologist Alexander Conze took over direction of the department of ancient sculpture at the Royal Museums of Berlin, he quickly initiated a programme for the excavation and protection of the monuments connected to the sculpture, which were widely suspected to include the Great Altar. [41]

As a result of these efforts, Carl Humann, who had been carrying out low-level excavations at Pergamon for the previous few years and had discovered for example the architrave inscription of the Temple of Demeter in 1875, was entrusted with carry out work in the area of the altar of Zeus in 1878, where he continued to work until 1886. With the approval of the Ottoman empire, the reliefs discovered there were transported to Berlin, where the Pergamon Museum was opened for them in 1907. The work was continued by Conze, who aimed for the most complete possible exposure and investigation of the historic city and citadel that was possible. He was followed by the architectural historian Wilhelm Dörpfeld from 1900 to 1911, who was responsible for the most important discoveries. Under his leadership the Lower Agora, the House of Attalos, the Gymnasion, and the Sanctuary of Demeter were brought to light.

The excavations were interrupted by the First World War and were only resumed in 1927 under the leadership of Theodor Wiegand, who remained in this post until 1939. He concentrated on further excavation of the upper city, the Asklepieion, and the Red Hall. The Second World War also caused a break in work at Pergamon, which lasted until 1957. From 1957 to 1968, Erich Boehringer worked on the Asklepieion in particular, but also carried out important work on the lower city as a whole and performed survey work, which increased knowledge of the countryside surrounding the city. In 1971, after a short pause, Wolfgang Radt succeeded him as leader of excavations and directed the focus of research on the residential buildings of Pergamon, but also on technical issues, like the water management system of the city which supported a population of 200,000 at its height. He also carried out conservation projects which were of vital importance for maintaining the material remains of Pergamon. Since 2006, the excavations have been led by Felix Pirson. [42]

Most of the finds from the Pergamon excavations before the First World War were taken to the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, with a smaller portion going to the İstanbul Archaeological Museum after it was opened in 1891. After the First World War the Bergama Museum was opened, which has received all finds discovered since then.

Pergamon is a good example of a city that expanded in a planned and controlled manner. Philetairos transformed Pergamon from an archaic settlement into a fortified city. He or his successor Attalos I built a wall around the whole upper city, including the plateau to the south, the upper agora and some of the housing - further housing must have been found outside these walls. Because of the growth of the city, the streets were expanded and the city was monumentalised. [43] Under Attalos I some minor changes were made to the city of Philetairos. [44] During the reign of Eumenes II and Attalos II, there was a substantial expansion of the city. [45] A new street network was created and a new city wall with a monumental gatehouse south of the Acropolis called the Gate of Eumenes. The wall, with numerous gates, now surrounded the entire hill, not just the upper city and the flat area to the southwest, all the way to the Selinus river. Numerous public buildings were constructed, as well as a new marketplace south of the acropolis and a new gymnasion in the east. The southeast slope and the whole western slope of the hill were now settled and opened up by streets.

The plan of Pergamon was affected by the extreme steepness of the site. As a result of this, the streets had to turn hairpin corners, so that the hill could be climbed as comfortably and quickly as possible. For the construction of buildings and laying out of the agoras, extensive work on the cliff-face and terracing had to be carried out. A consequence of the city's growth was the construction of new buildings over old ones, since there was not sufficient space.

Separate from this, a new area was laid out in Roman times, consisting of a whole new city west of the Selinus river, with all necessary infrastructure, including baths, theatres, stadiums, and sanctuaries. This Roman new city was able to expand without any city walls constraining it because of the absence of external threats.

Housing Edit

Generally, most of the Hellenistic houses at Pergamon were laid out with a small, centrally-located and roughly square courtyard, with rooms on one or two sides of it. The main rooms are often stacked in two levels on the north side of the courtyard. A wide passage or colonnade on the north side of the courtyard often opened onto foyers, which enabled access to other rooms. An exact north-south arrangement of the city blocks was not possible because of the topographical situation and earlier construction. Thus the size and arrangement of the rooms differed from house to house. From the time of Philetairos, at the latest, this kind of courtyard house was common and it was ever more widespread as time went on, but not universal. Some complexes were designed as Prostas houses, similar to designs seen at Priene. Others had wide columned halls in front of main rooms to the north. Especially in this latter type there is often a second story accessed by stairways. In the courtyards there were often cisterns, which captured rain water from the sloping roofs above. For the construction under Eumenes II, a city block of 35 x 45 m can be reconstructed, subject to significant variation as a result of the terrain. [46]

Open spaces Edit

From the beginning of the reign of Philetairos, civic events in Pergamon were concentrated on the Acropolis. Over time the so-called 'Upper agora' was developed at the south end of this. In the reign of Attalos I, a Temple of Zeus was built there. [47] To the north of this structure there was a multi-story building, which propbably had a function connected to the marketplace. [48] With progressive development of the open space, these buildings were demolished, while the Upper Agora itself took on a more strongly commercial function, while still a special space as a result of the temple of Zeus. In the course of the expansion of the city under Eumenes, the commercial character of the Upper Agora was further developed. The key signs of this development are primarily the halls built under Eumenes II, whose back chambers were probably used for trade. [49] In the west, the 'West Chamber' was built which might have served as a market administration building. [50] After these renovations, the Upper Agora thus served as a centre for trade and spectacle in the city. [51]

Because of significant new construction in the immediate vicinity - the renovation of the Sanctuary of Athena and the Pergamon altar and the redesign of the neighbouring area - the design and organisational principle of the Upper Agora underwent a further change. [52] Its character became much more spectacular and focussed on the two new structures looming over it, especially the altar which was visible on its terrace from below since the usual stoa surrounding it was omitted from the design. [53]

The 80 m long and 55 m wide 'Lower Agora' was built under Eumenes II and was not significantly altered until Late Antiquity. [54] As with the Upper Agora, the rectangular form of the agora was adapted to the steep terrain. The construction consisted in total of three levels. Of these the Upper Level and the 'Main Level' opened onto a central courtyard. On the lower level there were rooms only on the south and east sides because of the slope of the land, which led through a colonnade to the exterior of the space. [55] The whole market area extended over two levels with a large columned hall in the centre, which contained small shop spaces and miscellaneous rooms. [56]

Streets and bridges Edit

The course of the main street, which winds up the hill to the Acropolis with a series of hairpin turns, is typical of the street system of Pergamon. On this street were shops and warehouses. [57] The surface of the street consisted of andesite blocks up to 5 metres wide, 1 metre long and 30 cm deep. The street included a drainage system, which carried the water down the slope. Since it was the most important street of the city, the quality of the material used in its construction was very high. [58]

Watch the video: Reading the Odyssey in Ancient Greek. Connecting Point. Feb. 12, 2020 (January 2022).