Turkey, ruins of theatre in Pergamon

New archaeological findings change the history of Pergamon

The latest discoveries indicate that the history of Pergamon, declared a World Heritage Site, predates the Hellenistic and Roman times and dates back to the Archaic Period, around the 7th century B.C.

New findings made during archaeological excavations in ancient Pergamon, included in the UNESCO World Heritage list, have shed new light on the past of this Greco-Roman city that could change its history and knowledge about the civilisations that settled here.

New archaeological discoveries have been made during excavations in the so-called Lower City, which for the most part is buried under the current Turkish city of Bergama and that was where most of the inhabitants of ancient Pergamum lived, unlike the Upper City, which housed the acropolis built around the great theatre and where the ruling class lived in.

In these excavations a bottle of aromatic oil called aryballos has been found, dating back to the 6th-7th century BC, in addition to a brooch (fibula) from the same period. The presence of these objects in the Lower City, which stands out for its remains from the Roman era, reveals that this place was inhabited much earlier than previously thought, so now it is known that the history of the Lower City dates back to the Archaic Era, just like the Upper City.

In statements made to the media by the director of the Bergama Museum, Nilgün Ustura, she stressed that excavations in the Lower City continue at full speed. “We are having a very complete (excavation) season. Our work here continues throughout the year, not for months. The findings uncovered in this process have made important contributions to the ancient city of Pergamon,” she said.

Pergamum flourished in Roman times, but its decline came in the Middle Ages

During the excavations, which try to establish the limits of the ancient city, remains of previous settlements, prior to the Hellenistic and Roman times, have been found: “We have made findings from the Archaic period in the Lower City. This is very important to us to determine the history of the city (…) We have found limited findings from the Archaic Period in the Upper City, but it is very important to also find the first findings in the Lower City. “

These objects, once catalogued, are already on display in the Bergama Museum, where most of the archaeological objects correspond to those found in the Acropolis, the Asklepion, the so-called “Basilica” and the Musalla Cemetery. Also found in this museum are findings made in other settlements near ancient Pergamon, such as Pitane, Myrina or Gryneion.

Pergamon grew up around the citadel located in the Upper City, especially after the death of Alexander the Great, during the Hellenistic era, becoming part of the Seleucid Empire and later the Roman Empire. A cosmopolitan city, it was an important cultural and religious centre.

The glory of Pergamon began to decline in the crisis of the 3rd century and after an earthquake that devastated the city, being subsequently plundered by the Goths; the city was losing importance and population until it was limited to the acropolis, which was fortified in Byzantine times. In successive centuries it was looted by Arabs and Seljuks, and despite attempts to rebuild it, when the crusaders plundered Constantinople in 1204 its Roman-era buildings were only ruins.