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Copyright 2000. All rights reserved. For use only as authorized by the author of this work or as directed by the course instructor for students registered in courses at University of Toronto.


The city of ancient Pergamon (or Pergamum, today's Bergama) was created by the newly-founded royal dynasty in the mid-third century BCE. It became one of the classic late-Hellenistic cities, on a dramatically steep site, with imaginatiave solutions to the urban design problems created by the site, wonderfully embellished by the generous attention of its royal (and other) patrons. The site divides into two main sections, the steep upper town and the flat lower town. Though today's Bergama is entirely in the lower areas, a number of important remains have survived even there: the Asklepieion, one of the major healing centres of antiqity, the Red Hall (Serapeum), the stadium, a Roman Bridge and tunnel. But it is the upper town that captures the imagination, with its extensive remains, innovations, and drama.


Lower town

A gold votive offering dedicated "To Asklepios, saviour, from Flavia Secunda." The ear represents the part healed.

The Asklepieion in the lower town, to the west, with its complex of religious, cultural and medical elements.

The northern stoa, joining the library on the east (# 4 above, out of the picture) to the theatre (# 6 above). In front of the theatre were several small shrines and pools.

The tunnnel (cryptoporticus; #10 above), lit by opening s in the vaulted ceiling, leading to the healing building (#11 above), after passing by the sacred spring.


Upper town

Upper photo: the theatre with the Altar of Zeus in the background

The upper city of Pergamon

Lower phot: the Temple of Dionysus, on its raised plinth, below the theatre

The Trajaneum, at the highest point of the city, overlooking the Temple of Athena and the theatre.

The Altar of Zeus, a dramatic structure richly decorated with relief sculptures (now in Berlin), sitting below the Temple of Athena.

The cult centre dedicted to Demeter and Persephone; at the left rear is some theatre seating for members to observe the rites.

The precinct of the Temple of Demeter with the altar and naos, and the modern city of Bergama in the background and below.

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 Altar of Zeus


One of the most richly decorated structures of the Hellenistic period, the remains of the Altar of Zeus are now located in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin.


Two views of the model of the acropolis or upper town of Pergamon. In the upper view, the Trajaneum stis atop the city, with the Theatre below it and the Temple of Dionysus below that. In the right hand view the theatre is in the lower left, that Altar of Zeus edging off the picture at the right, and the Temple of Athena above the theatre with the Heroon beyond that.

Above, two details of the sculptural decoration.

Left, one side of the great stair up to the altar.

The reconstruction of the altar, as it is situated in the Berlin Museum.