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The Library of Pergamum: A Contender for the Greatest Library of the Ancient World

Thursday, February 23, 2017 19:03
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The Library of Pergamum: A Contender for the Greatest Library of the Ancient World

Pergamum, Anatolia, now the modern Turkish town of Bergama, was one of the most important cities in the Hellenistic Greek age. It was culturally rich, with an extensive library at its heart. The city gained renown as an administrative center when it was ruled by King Eumenes II from the Attalid dynasty. It was under this king that Pergamum severed ties with Macedonia and made an alliance with the Roman Republic.

Drawing of ancient Pergamon (Pergamum).

Drawing of ancient Pergamon (Pergamum). Source: Public Domain

One of the Key Libraries of the Ancient World

The city boasted a population of over 200,000 citizens. Culturally, it rivaled both Alexandria and Antioch with its many works of art, including sculptures and advanced architecture such as the Great Altar of Pergamum. It was also an important religious center, being mentioned in the New Testament as one of the Seven Churches of Revelation. Around 133 BC, Pergamum was bequeathed to the Roman Republic, and in the Middle Ages it fell under the rule of the Ottoman empire.

Map of Pergamon’s Acropolis (1882), from Die Ergebnisse der Ausgrabung zu Pergamon 1880-1881, University of Heidelberg.

Section: – Reconstructing the story of humanity’s past


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