At Pergamum, Trajan’s Temple

May 11, 2010

As we continue to look at biblical sites, especially in Turkey, we want to call attention to some points of interest in Pergamum, located at modern Bergama.  Fatih Cimok writes, “The word Pergamum is thought to have been from a pre-Hellenistic tongue and meant ‘citadel’ or ‘stronghold'” (Pergamum, 2009 ed., p.7).

Pergamum has an interesting history.  In ancient times, it wasn’t just the city of Pergamum, it was actually the kingdom of Permamum, which extended from Bythinia to Cappodoccia.

Pergamum came under Roman rule in 133 B.C., when King Attlos II died. He had bequeathed Pergamum to Rome in his will. It was during Roman times that a temple was built and dedicated to Emperor Trajan and his adopted son Hadrian. Todd Bolen observes, “The Trajan temple was the jewel of Pergamum.”

Today’s photos depict some of the ruins of the Trajan temple. Restoration has been done by the German Archaeological Institute.  Click on images for higher resolution.

Tragan Temple in Pergamum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Trajan reigned A.D. 98-117, and Hadrian reigned A.D. 117-138.

Tragan Temple in Pergamum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Pergamum became a center for the Imperial Cult, for emperor worship. Cimok writes:

Having an imperial temple would also bring many visitors to a city like Pergamum during the festivals held for the imperial cult, and consequently economic benefits; thus the cities on Roman soil (including Pergamum and Ephesus) competed over building imperial temples. (Ibid.17).

More to come on Pergamum. See also our previous posts on Emperor Worship at Ephesus April 10,11, and 14.

Scenes from Ephesus

April 14, 2010

As you continue further on Curetes Street, across from the Domitian Square, you see the Memmius Monument. This four sided victory arch was erected by Gaius Memmius, son of Caius and grandson of Sulla, as a memorial of Sulla’s military victory over Mithridates. Mithridates, king of Pontus, had 90,000 troops, while Sulla’s forces numbered only 30,000. The Battle of Chaeronea (in Greece) took place in 86 B.C.  We include this info not because it is directly related to the Bible, but to remind us that numerous struggles and upheavals were occurring as God was working out the unfolding of His plan, as the “fullness of time” for Jesus to come was approaching (Gal. 4:4).

Memmius Monument. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Another structure of interest is the Trajan Fountain, dedicated to the emperor Trajan (reigned A.D. 98-117).  The fountain was built  A.D. 102-104. For what it’s worth, Michael Grant writes, “Trajan was a tall and well-built man, with an air of serious dignity enhanced by early greyness” (The Roman Emperors, p.75).

Trajan Fountain. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

One more Ephesus photo for today is the Hadrian Temple. Emperor Hadrian reigned A.D. 117-138.

Hadrian Temple. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The “Second Revolt” (A.D. 132) of the Jews took place during Hadrian’s reign.  Michael Grant observes,

For Hadrian, whose cosmopolitan outlook was unsympathetic to Jewish separatism, had established a Roman colony and temple in Jerusalem, now renamed Aelia Capitolina after his own Aelian family; and this foundation caused great anger among the Jews, who in 132 broke into open insurrection under an inspiring leader, Simeon Bar Kosiba (nicknamed Bar Kochba, ‘son of a star’).  The rebels took Jerusalem and issued their own coinage, and it took three years to overcome their uprising.  During this period the emperor visited Judaea, once if not twice, and he is likely to have been present when Jerusalem finally fell in 134.  The surviving militants were rounded up at Bethar the following year, and severe measures of reprisal included a total prohibition of circumcision. (ibid.79).

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