About 16 km off
the Ankara-Eskişehir road near Sivrihisar, the center of
one of the chief Celtic settlements of the 270s B.C. It
was famous for its great shrine of the Mother Goddess
(Kybele; locally often Agdistis) and was therefore a
center of the cult of Attis as well (Paus. 1.4.5
10-11). Strabo (12.5.3
) describes Pessinous as being a
major market center, her eunuch priests much enriched.
The Attalids, who dominated the town, rebuilt Kybele's
sanctuary, adding to or near it porticos constructed of
white marble. At the end of the 3d c. B.C. the goddess'
cult-stone, said to have fallen from heaven (Amm. Marc.
22.9.7) was transported to Rome and set up in the Temple of Victory on the Palatine, as a result of a Sibylline
reading. By 25 B.C., when Augustus formed the province
of Galatia, Pessinous was under Roman rule. In A.D. 362
the emperor Julian worshiped there (Amm. Marc. 22.9.8).
The site has been excavated since 1967.
A temple has been uncovered, seemingly of Hellenistic
date, that may derive from models farther W, such as
the Temple of Athena at Priene. At Pessinous however
the shorter ends of the peristyle are formed by walls, and
on the long sides seven rectangular marble pillars appear,
the walls of the short ends being turned along the long
flanks to the extent of about two columns' distance. From
the point of view of Classical design, this suggests a model
based on a 6 x 11 column system. The structural techniques as reported seem to be Hellenistic.
The excavation of a necropolis has brought to light
several Roman tombs of considerable importance; some
of them have door facades in the manner of Phrygian
and other Anatolian tombs. The local depot displays
some of the finds. Recently a canal, with step-sides, has
been uncovered within the town, as well as what is apparently a regulatory dam system of Roman date.
(1967) 113-31; P. Lambrechts, De Brug
; K. Bittel, “Beobachtungen
in Pessinus,” AA
; Coll. Latomus
102 and 114 (3d ed. 1973) 404-14; E. Akurgal, Ancient
Civilizations and Ruins of Turkey
(2d ed. 1970) 277-78,
and bibliography on p. 365P
W. L. MAC DONALD