Greek city of Pergamon in Mysia
Bronze 18mm (5.13 grams) Struck circa 133-27 B.C.
Reference: SNG France 1813-4; Sear 3967 var. (no owl); B.M.C. 15.129,158 var. (no owl).
Laureate head of Asclepius right.
ΑΣΚΛΗΠΙΟΥ / ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ either side of a Asclepian snake coiled right around omphalos; surmounted by owl standing right.
Situated in the Kaikos valley, about 15 miles from the coast, Pergamon was a city of uncertain origin and of no great importance before the time of Alexander the Great. In the 3rd century B.C. it became the center of the independent kingdom ruled by the Attalid dynasty founded by Philetairos. The city was extended and beautified as the prosperity of the kingdom increased, and by the late Hellenistic times Pergamon ranked as one of the great cultural centers of the Greek world. After the end of the kingdom, 133 B.C., Pergamon became capital of the Roman province of Asia.
You are bidding on the exact item pictured, provided with a Certificate of Authenticity and Lifetime Guarantee of Authenticity.
Asclepius is the god of medicine and healing in ancient Greek religion. Asclepius represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; his daughters are Hygieia ("Health"), Iaso ("Medicine"), Aceso ("Healing"), Aglæa/Ægle ("Healthy Glow"), and Panacea ("Universal Remedy"). The rod of Asclepius, a snake-entwined staff, remains a symbol of medicine today, although sometimes the caduceus, or staff with two snakes, is mistakenly used instead. He was associated with the Roman/Etruscan god Vediovis. He was one of Apollo's servants.
The rod of Asclepius, also known as the asklepian, is an ancient symbol associated with astrology, the Greek god Asclepius and with medicine and healing. It consists of a serpent entwined around a staff. The name of the symbol derives from its early and widespread association with Asclepius, the son of Apollo, who was a practitioner of medicine in ancient Greek mythology. His attributes, the snake and the staff, sometimes depicted separately in antiquity, are combined in this symbol. The Rod of Asclepius also represents the constellation Ophiuchus (or Ophiuchus Serpentarius), the thirteenth sign of the sidereal zodiac. Hippocrates himself was a worshipper of Asclepius.
An omphalos (ὀμφαλός) is a religious stone artifact, or baetylus. In Greek, the word omphalos means "navel". In Greek lore, Zeus sent two eagles across the world to meet at its center, the "navel" of the world. Omphalos stones marking the centre were erected in several places about the Mediterranean Sea; the most famous of those was at Delphi. Omphalos is also the name of the stone given to Cronus. In the ancient world of the Mediterranean, it was a powerful religious symbol. Omphalos Syndrome refers to the misguided belief that a place of geopolitical power and currency is the most important place in the world.
The omphalos was not only an object of pagan religious symbolism and world centrality; it an also one of power. Its symbolic references included the uterus, the phallus, and a cup of red wine representing royal blood lines. It may also have connections to the Holy Grail and the Arthurian Sword in the Stone.
The omphalos in museum of Delphi
Most accounts locate the Delphi omphalos in the adyton (sacred part of the temple) near the Pythia (oracle). The stone sculpture itself (which may be a copy), has a carving of a knotted net covering its surface, and a hollow center, widening towards the base. The omphalos represents the stone which Rhea wrapped in swaddling clothes, pretending it was Zeus, in order to deceive Cronus. (Cronus was the father who swallowed his children so as to prevent them from usurping him as he had deposed his own father, Uranus).
Omphalos stones were believed to allow direct communication with the gods. Holland (1933) suggested that the stone was hollow to allow intoxicating vapours breathed by the Oracle to channel through it. Erwin Rohde wrote that the Python at Delphi was an earth spirit, who was conquered by Apollo and buried under the Omphalos. However, understanding of the use of the omphalos is uncertain due to destruction of the site by Theodosius I and Arcadius in the 4th century CE.
The omphalos at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, represents, in Christian mediaeval tradition, the navel of the world (the spiritual and cosmological centre of the world). Jewish tradition held that God revealed himself to His people through the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple in Jerusalem, which rested on the Foundation stone marking the centre of the world. This tradition may have stemmed from the similar one at Delphi.
Pergamon, Pergamum or Pérgamo (in Greek, Πέργαμος) was an ancient Greek city in modern-day Turkey, in Mysia, today located 16 miles (26 km) from the Aegean Sea on a promontory on the north side of the river Caicus (modern day Bakırçay), that became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon during the Hellenistic period, under the Attalid dynasty, 281–133 BC. Today, the main sites of ancient Pergamon are to the north and west of the modern city of Bergama.
The Kingdom of Pergamon (colored olive), shown at its greatest extent in 188 BC
The Attalid kingdom was the rump state left after the collapse of the Kingdom of Thrace.
The Attalids, the descendants of Attalus, father of Philetaerus who came to power in 281 BC following the collapse of the Kingdom of Thrace, were among the most loyal supporters of Rome in the Hellenistic world. Under Attalus I (241-197 BC), they allied with Rome against Philip V of Macedon, during the first and second Macedonian Wars, and again under Eumenes II (197-158 BC), against Perseus of Macedon, during the Third Macedonian War. For support against the Seleucids, the Attalids were rewarded with all the former Seleucid domains in Asia Minor.
The Attalids ruled with intelligence and generosity. Many documents survive showing how the Attalids would support the growth of towns through sending in skilled artisans and by remitting taxes. They allowed the Greek cities in their domains to maintain nominal independence. They sent gifts to Greek cultural sites like Delphi, Delos, and Athens. They defeated the invading Celts. They remodeled the Acropolis of Pergamo after the Acropolis in Athens. When Attalus III (138-133 BC) died without an heir in 133 BC he bequeathed the whole of Pergamon to Rome, in order to prevent a civil war.
According to Christian tradition, the first bishop of Pergamon, Antipas, was martyred there in ca. 92 AD. (Revelation 2:13)
The Ottoman Sultan Murad III had two large alabaster urns transported from the ruins of Pergamon and placed on two sides of the nave in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
The Great Altar of Pergamon, on display in the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin, Germany
Model of the Acropolis in the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin
The Great Altar of Pergamon is in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin. The base of this altar remains on the upper part of the Acropolis. It was perhaps to this altar, believed dedicated to Zeus, that John of Patmos referred to as "Satan's Throne" in his Book of Revelation (Revelation 2:12-13).
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
Pergamon's library on the Acropolis (the ancient Library of Pergamum) is the second best in the ancient Greek civilization. When the Ptolemies stopped exporting papyrus, partly because of competitors and partly because of shortages, the Pergamenes invented a new substance to use in codices, called pergaminus or pergamena (parchment) after the city. This was made of fine calfskin, a predecessor of vellum. The library at Pergamom was believed to contain 200,000 volumes, which Mark Antony later gave to Cleopatra as a wedding present.
The lower part of the Acropolis has the following structures:
- the Upper Gymnasium
- the Middle Gymnasium
- the Lower Gymnasium
- the Temple of Demeter
- the Sanctuary of Hera
- the House of Attalus
- the Lower Agora and
- the Gate of Eumenes
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. Archeology has found lots of gifts and dedications that people would make afterwards, such as small terracotta body parts, no doubt representing what had been healed. Notable extant structures in the Asclepieion include:
- the Roman theater
- the North Stoa
- the South Stoa
- the Temple of Asclepius
- a circular treatment center (sometimes known as the Temple of Telesphorus)
- a healing spring
- an underground passageway
- a library
- the Via Tecta (or the Sacred Way, which is a colonnaded street leading to the sanctuary) and
- a propylon.
Pergamon's other notable structure is the Serapis Temple (Serapeum) which was later transformed into the Red Basilica complex (or Kizil Avlu in Turkish), about one kilometer south of the Acropolis. It consists of a main building and two round towers. In the first century AD, the Christian Church at Pergamon inside the main building of the Red Basilica was one of the Seven Churches to which the Book of Revelation was addressed (Revelation 2:12). The forecourt is still supported by the 193 m wide Pergamon Bridge, the largest bridge substruction of antiquity.