2. From Izmir: Private Day Trip to Acropolis of Pergamon
Artifacts have been found at the Pergamon archaeological site that date back to the time of the Hittites. There were early Greek settlements and later Persian domination; though, the city apparently did not blossom until the Hellenistic period. Built upon a steep hilltop 1000 feet above the plains below where the rivers Cetius and Selinus join to create the Caicus River, the Kingdom of Pergamon was founded in the 3rd century BC by Philetarios, a commander who served under Lysimachos. The kingdom faced repeated skirmishes with the invading Gauls and, later, in allegiance to Rome, it fought and defeated the Seleucids. It thrived, nonetheless, as a center of culture and learning throughout the Hellenistc period, especially under the Attalid dynasty, when many of the building projects that you will see remains of today were undertaken. It was during this time that the famous Charta Pergamenta, the first sheepskin parchment, was developed. The library at Pergamon, built and founded by Eumenes II, rivaled that of the day’s foremost library in Alexandria and, out of jealousy, the Egyptian King, Ptolemy, banned the export of papyrus inspiring the invention of the new writing material.
Though Pergamon was a major center of pagan worship and not conducive to Christian life, the church there was well established by the end of the 1st century. It was severely challenged, however, by the activities of the pagan community and this struggle is what lies at the heart of the Book of Revelation’s message to the church at Pergamon. The Lord commends the congregation for its obedience, devotion and faithfulness in the face of the persecution, flagrant heathenism and impiety that was being practiced all around them in this city of temple worship and ritual sacrifice (Revelation 2:13). They are then condemned for loosely interpreting doctrine, compromising their morals and allowing themselves to be misled in order to satisfy their carnal desires and their worldly aspirations (Revelation 2:14,15). If they do not recognize the error of their ways and right themselves, they will face perdition; if they do prevail, they will receive sustenance from the Lord, blessings and more of the grace that is already working within them to allow them the capacity for faith (Revelation 2:16,17).
Among the many ruins at this sprawling site, you will have the opportunity to see the incredible theater that is set into a steep hillside, the famous library, the Temple of Trajan, the baths, the acropolis and more. The Asclepion, where the famous medical researcher and physician, Galen, studied is located a few kilometers south of the acropolis. Though the impressive Zeus Altar has been removed to the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, its foundations remain to be seen lying in the shade of large trees. What remains of Pergamon is quite extensive and well presented.