Greek Colonies in Turkey and their development


Pergamon (or Pergamum) is recognized by historians as one of the great centers of Hellenistic civilization.

Brief History:

Even though the Acropolis of Pergamon had been inhabited since the archaic period (800BC-480bc), the first verified settlement in Pergamon dates back to 546 BC, with the Persian occupation. The Persians lost Pergamon in 334 BC, with the coming of Lysimachos, Alexander the Great’s lieutenant. Trying to conquer the rest of Asia Minor, Lysimachos departed from Pergamon leaving a large sum of talents (9000) in charge to Philetairos, commander of Pergamon. Luckily enough for Philetairos, Lysimachos died in the war against the Seulicids, and thus Philetairos kept the money for himself, and founded the Pergamon monarchy. Philetairos made great strategic decisions, in order to protect Pergamon from foreign attacks: he made pacts with neighboring populations and even managed to extend its kingdom to the shores of the Marmara Sea. Philetairos died in 263 BC,  leaving a huge patrimony to his nephew Eumenes I. He, during his short life, was able to defend Pergamon’s frontiers by paying tributes to the Galatians (neighboring population) and by defeating in war the Seulicd King Antiochus I. Eumenes I died in 241 BC, and left the kingdom to Attalos I. He reigned from 241 BC to 197 BC, and he was a great and enlightened King: it is in fact under his reign that in Pergamon many monuments and magnificent buildings are constructed. Not only Attalos I was a great strategist (he made an alliance with Rome), but also he was highly interested in art and culture. His successor, Eumenes II (ruled from 197 BC to 159 BC) assisted Pergamon reaching its zenith, and made it one of the most important bases of the Hellenistic world. He made interventions in many sectors: he developed trade, by commissioning vast warehouses, which attracted foreign merchants; he promoted culture by building a huge library, with a capacity of more than 200,000 volumes. During his reign, Pergamon was so powerful and important that Egypt, scared  of its cultural influence, stopped providing Pergamon with papyrus. The consequence of this, was that in Pergamon, they started using  parchment (in latin ‘Pergamen’, taking the name it originated in: Pergamon). Parchment, goatskin or sheepskin, tanned to make it able to be writable. When Eumenes II died in 159 BC, the throne went to his brother Attalos II, who ruled until his death in 138 BC. His son, Attalos III, only ruled for the next 5 years, as the Kingdom of Pergamon died in 133 BC and bestowed to the Roman Empire.

Pergamon, the city:

Although Pergamon was built with the Athenian model in mind, it presents a huge difference from the city that immensely contributed to the civilasation of mankind (Athens): the Acropolis. In Athens, in fact, the hilltop is completely sacred; whereas the Acropolis of Pergamon was primarily occupied by buildings and public squares, specially built for daily life purposes: such as meetings, but also commercial affairs and sportive events . This was the special thing that made Pergamon so fascinatingly different from other Greek cities of the time: ‘the religious function of buildings were of secondary importance’.

Acropolis of Pergamon:

The Acropolis of Pergamon is very archeologically interesting, as it presents Pergamon most attractive monuments: the Library, the Athena Temple, the Trajaneum, the palaces, the Altar of Zeus, the Theatre and many others.

Originally, the Acropolis was surrounded by a three-layer city wall, built by King Eumenes II.

Something peculiar about the Acropolis of Pergamon is without doubts the fact that it contained a theatre: it is unusual in fact for Greeks to build their theatre in the Acropolis. The theatre is itself very architectonically interesting: as it leaning against the Acropolis, it is very steep, and it offers a splendid view on the valley.

The Theatre:
The picture aside shows the outstanding Pergamon Theatre: to guarantee better flow of people, there were two horizontal divisions (called 'Diazoma'). The auditorium could count 80 rows, and its maximum capacity was of 10,000 people. In the center, right next to the orchestra, the Imperial lodge was built entirely out of marble; whereas the stage, originally, was totally out of wood. Something interesting about having the stage entirely out wood was that it was to be installed only in the days of the performance. Using a stage made of wood had a big impact, because it emphasized the importance of nature and the made a pleasant bond with the nature behind the proscenium.

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