The remains of the Hellenistic theater of Pergamon. The theater has 80 rows of seats divided by two horizontal walkways, and could accommodate around 10,000 guests. There was no stage-building. Photo: Sarah Murray.
The Roman-built Temple of Trajan. Photo: birasuegi.
Town in western Turkey with 55,000 inhabitants (2004 estimate).
The economy is based upon the production of cotton and leather products. The agriculture of the surrounding area specializes in cotton, tobacco and grapevines. In recent years, gold has been discovered in the area but extraction has not yet started.
Bergama is connected to other urban centres by road, and the nearest major city is Izmir, 80 km south.
Bergama is a town of much history, and remains of Pergamon lie to the north and west of modern Bergama. The acropolis from the time of Pergamon’s independent history holds temples of Athena and Trajan, a spectacular theatre and the 3rd century BCE library which was reported to have contained as many as 200,000 books. The fame of the library was so great that Egyptian kings eventually banned the export of papyrus, in order to “protect” the position of the library in Alexandria.
King Eumenes 2 called out for replacements, and the old technique of the parchment was revived and improved. Parchment was made from specially treated animal skins, and since they could not roll up like the papyrus, the parchments were put on top of each other and bound together, hence the origin of the book.
399 BCE: Oldest recorded mention of Pergamon. Yet the town must have been founded decades, if not centuries, earlier.
3rd century: With the rise of the Pergamene dynasty, Pergamon sees great progress and wealth.
Early 2nd century: Parchment is developed by the command of King Eumenes 2.
129: The Romans incorporate Pergamon into their Province of Asia. The process starts under King Attalus 3 who for some unknown reason bequeathes his kingdom to Rome.
1st century: Pergamon thrives under Roman rule, increasing its population to 150,000.
262 CE: Pergamon is attacked by the Goths, resulting in decline for the city.
1871: Pergamon is rediscovered.
1886: The excavation of Pergamon is completed, and most of the finds are transported to Germany.