After the death of Alexander the Great, one of his generals who is called Lysimachus chose Pergamon as the depository for his wealth. He placed nine thousand talents of gold in Pergamon under the guardianship of Philetaerus who was his lieutenant. After the death of Lysimachus, Philetaerus took advantage of this wealth and founded the independent dynasty of Attalid Kings which later became the centre of Hellenistic civilization. With the success of the two kings Attalus I and Eumenes II, Pergamon reached the highest point of its power in history. However during those time Rome and the Hellenistic leaders united. After that Pergamon became a very powerful kingdom by Attalus I including Mysia, Lydia, Caria, Pamphylia and Phrygia. He not only extended the borders but also decorated the capital city with architectural splendors. Eumenes II improved the city culturally. King Attalus III bequeathed the territory to the Romans who made the city rich in art and culture poor in politics and economy. The city went through the Arab, Byzantine and finally the Turkish period in the 14C. In Hellenistic period the ancientity made an intellectual progress with the famous sculpture school and public buildings and monuments. Also Pergamon played an important role during the reign of the Romans.
The foundation of acropolis in Pergamon depended on social and cultural activities which we can consider it to be the daily life. Because of this, buildings in Pergamon were designed to be used in daily life. More than religion socialization was important as a proof even the temples were one of the meeting places of people where they can join in social affairs just like other large buildings which were designed for this purpose. Pergamon had the fame to be the first city who showed reaction to the functional urbanism of Hippodamus as they preferred ornamental urbanism. Acropolis buildings were built and designed with the aim of impressing the ones viewing the city from the valley. All buildings except the Trajan Temple were built in the reign of the Hellenistic emperors which are mostly made of andesite and rarely marble.
Heroon in Pergamon was the shrine in which the kings especially Attalus I and Eumenes II were worshipped. Eumenes II built the Sanctuary of Athena, dedicated to victory-bringing, in Pergamon which was entered through a propylon. The entrance of the Sanctuary is surrounded by three stoas of the Doric order which opens to a courtyard. Athena Temple is located at the corner near the theatre in Doric order as well which was built earlier.
Another building constructed by Eumenes II is the Library of Pergamon. It was the second of the three famous ancient libraries which contained two hundred thousand volumes and which were given to Cleopatra a century later as a wedding present by Mark Antony to be added to the ones in the library of Alexandria. The library is located north of the Athena Sanctuary. The Library of Pergamon was rich in sources but when the Egyptians prohibited the export of papyrus, Pergamon King ordered a new material to be found which can take the place of papyrus. What they found was called parchment which was a material made of sheep or goat skin. It was polished first with pumice stone and then slit into sheets. Because of this, the word parchment is used as a synonym of the name Pergamon. In the 2nd century Hadrian who was the successor of Trojan have the Temple of Trojan built inPergamon in Corinthian order and dedicated it to Trojan itself. It was built of marble. Zeus Altar can be accepted as the finest altar ever built. It was built in 180 B.C. without a temple which is unusual. The altar which is a marble offering-table is on a huge stone plinth which also supports the double colonnade of Ionic columns.It was built of marble.
Other notable structures still in existence on the upper part of the Acropolis include:
- The Hellenistic Theater with a seating capacity of 10,000. This had the steepest seating of any known theater in the ancient world.
- The Sanctuary of Trajan (also known as the Trajaneum)
- The Sanctuary of Athena
- The Library a.k.a. Athenaeum
- The Royal palaces
- The Heroön – a shrine where the kings of Pergamon, particularly, Attalus I and Eumenes II, were worshipped.
- The Temple of Dionysus
- The Upper Agora
- The Roman baths complex
- Sanctuary of Asclepius
Three kilometers south of the Acropolis, down in the valley, there was the Sanctuary of Asclepius (also known as the Asclepieion), the god of healing. In this place people with health problems could bathe in the water of the sacred spring, and in the patients’ dreams Asclepius would appear in a vision to tell them how to cure their illness.
Serapis is a Graeco-Egyptian god. Serapis was devised during the 3rd century BC on the orders of Ptolemy I of Egypt as a means to unify the Greeks and Egyptians in his realm. The god was depicted as Greek in appearance, but with Egyptian trappings. This temple was built for the Egyptian merchants in Pergamon.