LOADING ...

























Capital City of Pamphylia Perge
2003 /June

There are some ancient cities whose fascination is felt immediately, even before exploring them. With skilful tongue they bridge the ages, creating a sense of familiarity that draws you towards them. They do not leave you alone amidst the ruins of past times, but tell you about themselves. Colonnaded streets, some of the columns still standing, ruined houses with mosaic floors, fountains whose water no longer flows, fragments of statues scattered on the ground, ornate carved stones blocking your way, reliefs that are half missing, and tombs, all speak of the time when people walked the streets and dwelt in the houses. Perge is such a city, situated at Aksu near Antalya, 11 kilometres from the sea. The moment you arrive the monumental gateway arouses wonder, telling you that this is no ordinary city and giving a foretaste of the splendours that await you beyond it. The gateway is guarded by two gigantic Hellenistic towers, their stones so precisely cut that no mortar was needed, and enabling them to remain standing over more than 2000 years.

PAGE 1/6


























Capital City of Pamphylia Perge
2003 /June
The gateway is quite unlike its contemporaries in Anatolia, with its circular towers and oval courtyard. And these are not the only marvels with which Perge welcomes visitors. Perge was for a time proclaimed capital of the Roman Empire by the deified Emperor Tacitus in the 3rd century AD. In an inscription discovered on Tacitus Street, whose columns have now been restored, Perge tells its own story: 'Of old I was the capital of the land of Pamphylia. Now I have been declared metropolis by Zeus Tacitus. One of the celebrated rulers made me famous as the "chief of cities". Now I appear as the mother city after the example of Ephesus in Asia... All the Pamphylians who live here are now high priests of the God Tacitus.' The city describes itself in terms used by other emperors, such as 'excellent' and 'friend and ally'. Another inscription found nearby is the response of the reader to Perge's declaration: 'May you live long Perge! You are the only untouchable land...
PAGE 2/6


























Capital City of Pamphylia Perge
2003 /June
Long live Perge! You are the city renowned for the holy standard... You are chief of agoras... There is no falseness in your doings, because you attained all these rights by decree of the Roman Senate.' Perge reached the height of its glory in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, and all its buildings reflect its privileged status under the Roman Empire. The theatre, stadium, agora, baths, fountains, colonnaded streets and other structures are almost all still standing, astonishing us today with their magnificence. The main street stretches to the foot of the acropolis, whose summit rises higher than the monumental gateway. This street is one of the most imposing in Anatolia, with mosaic pavements running down either side. An exceptional feature, not seen in any of Turkey's other ancient cities, is the water channel flowing along the centre of the street. The road and channel end in a monumental nymphaion (fountain) and gate complex whose impact is so powerful that the past seems to come alive. Pergeĺs theatre numbers among the most impressive examples of Roman architecture anywhere in Turkey.
PAGE 3/6


























Capital City of Pamphylia Perge
2003 /June
The splendid fašade of the skene is embellished with columns, niches for statues, skilfully composed reliefs at each of the three levels, each illustrating a different myth, exquisitely carved decorations, and pediments of different types. The statues of gods, goddesses and emperors discovered here reflect another significant aspect of the city: its school of sculpture. By 1987 archaeologists working on excavations here had revealed 47 statues, all outstanding examples of Roman art and most still in one piece, demonstrating the high artistic standard achieved by the sculptors of Perge. Professor Dr Haluk Abbasoglu of Istanbul University, who is in charge of the excavations, explains that although no trace of a sculpture studio has as yet been discovered, the quality of the statuary and sarcophagi make it certain that a school must have existed here, and moreover that it was second only to that of Aphrodisias among the sculpture schools of Anatolia.
PAGE 4/6


























Capital City of Pamphylia Perge
2003 /June
Perge's necropolis is of exceptional interest, with a wide variety of structures, including four nymphaions, triumphal arches, and above all the public baths next to the monumental gate where 27 statues have been unearthed. One of the most important discoveries of recent years shows that the history of Perge goes back far earlier than previously thought. Finds at the new excavation site on the acropolis reveal that there was a settlement here in 3000-4000 BC. According to Professor Abbasoglu this is particularly important since nothing was known before about the history of the city prior to the Greek and Roman periods. It also undermines the Pergeian legend that their city was founded by seven Greek heros returning from the Trojan War, and that the land of Pamphylia, meaning 'All Tribes', was named after them. Now we know that there was already a city here, inhabited by indigenous Anatolian people, when the Greek colonists arrived.
PAGE 5/6


























Capital City of Pamphylia Perge
2003 /June

This is confirmed by a 5th century BC inscription referring to Artemis of Perge by the goddss'sn indigenous Anatolian name, as 'Wanassas of Preia'. Professor Abbasoglu adds that another important piece of evidence is a bronze tablet discovered at the Hittite capital Hattusa which refers to Perge as Parha. There is now no doubt that the city existed in the 13th century BC, before the arrival of the Greek Achaeans in Anatolia.

* Nermin Bayšin is an archaeologist

PAGE 6/6
Previous Next






























Previous Next