• Yunus Emre Institute

The Ancient Wonders Lecture Series Continued With Its 6th Ed. On Pergamon


Dr. Felix Pirson Stopped By To Discuss The Ancient City Of Pergamon


Washington, D.C. - In the sixth edition of the Yunus Emre Institute in Washington D.C.’s Ancient Wonders Lecture Series, Dr. Felix Pirson discussed the history of the ancient city of Pergamon. Dr. Pirson is the director of the Istanbul branch of the German Archaeological Institute and is the director of the Pergamon excavations. He addressed a number of topics that had to do with Pergamon and addressed some of the important questions that the events’ guests were curious about.


The ancient city of Pergamon is located in the İzmir province of Turkey and dates back to the Hellenistic period of history. During his presentation, Dr. Pirson carefully walked the audience through the outlay of the ancient city’s territory and how it changed under different rulers. Pergamon was an incredibly significant city to a number of different empires including the Persian Empire, the Attalid dynasty, the Roman Empire, and the Byzantine Empire to name a few. Under the Attalid dynasty, significant structures were built that would go on to define Pergamon like the sanctuary of Demeter, goddess of the harvest and the temple of Athena, goddess of wisdom. The city grew tremendously under Attalid rule from about 28 hectares to 90 hectares in the 2nd century B.C. This city grew from half the size of the National Mall in Washington D.C. to 50% larger than the National Mall. However, the city was not completely settled during the Attalid dynasty and did not reach its peak of urban development until the reign of the Roman Empire. Dr. Pirson expertly demonstrated to the audience the significance of Pergamon’s development as it changed hands throughout centuries of history.


The audience had many questions about the history of the site and the interpretations that Dr. Pirson’s team developed from the artifacts found there. One guest asked about the seismic activity in the area. Dr. Pirson explained that the site is actually located near a fault line that has caused earthquakes throughout the city’s history. However, that activity provides many benefits like volcanic building materials and hot springs that can still be visited today. Several guests asked overlapping questions about Pergamon’s population, food, and water supply that allowed Dr. Pirson to talk about how much of his team’s interpretations rely on written contemporary sources. He highlighted the works of Galen, a medical practitioner in the 2nd century A.D., as a key source for understanding the daily lives of the Pergamians. Overall, the audience thanked Dr. Pirson for his presentation and praised his work at the site.


Yunus Emre Institute is a Turkish cultural center located in Washington, D.C. and around the world. The institute hosts events and programs that educate the public about Turkey’s culture, history, and language. For more information about the institute’s mission or online programs, please email washingtondc@yee.org.tr or follow @yeewdc on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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