The Gate Magazine – November 2000

Pergamum: Home of Physician Galen and Parchement

According to myth, the God of Healing Asclepius, the son of Apollo, was a renown physician. Apollo left him with the physician Chiron when he was a child. As he grew up, Asclepius became such a specialist regarding surgery and curative herbs that he even resurrected the dead. The major domo of the underworld, Hades complains to Zeus, who mortalizes Asclepius with a lightning bolt. The most famous physician of antiquity, Galen (229-199 A.D.) practiced his curative techniques at the Asclepieum in Pergamum. His work had a big impact in the medical world for the next 1,400 years, whereas the Asclepieium was very similar to modem treatment centers.

Parchment and the Pergamum Library

When the Egyptians banned exports of papyrus, the King of Pergamum ordered another material to be found. This was to processed hides called ‘parchment.’ This is supposedly where the name Pergamum comes from. Naturally, this discovery led to the founding of the second largest library (200,000 volumes) in the ancient world, behind that of Alexandria (500,000). This book depository, of which almost nothing exists today, was constructed by Eumenes II. 100 years later. Mark Antony presented this library’s manuscripts to Cleopatra as a wedding gift. Shipped off to the Alexandria Library, the works were subsequently lost in a blaze.

Pergamum Acropolis, which is seen from afar at the top of the hill, is just as notable as the one in Greece. Climb up the narrow slope and you will see the Athena Sanctuary, and the Temples of Athena (3rd cent.B.C.) and Trajan (2nd cent. A.D.).   There’s also the steepest theater in the world (10,000 seats) as well as the famed Zeus Altar. Almost all of the reliefs and architectural elements are in Berlin.

For your Information…
  • Besides the Red Courtyard, you can see nice structures in the archaeological and ethnological museums in Bergama town center.
  • It’s to your advantage to have a car to explore the Asclepieum Treatment Center.
  • You should visit the Berlin Museum if you wish to see the architectural portions and reliefs o f the Zeus Altar.
  • Bergama Tourism Info Office: 0232 631 28 51
Places to stay in Bergama

Asude Hotel
İzmir Asfalti No:93 Bergama İzmir
Tel: 0232 633 3179