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PERGE (Aksu) Turkey.

City in Pamphylia, 16 km NE of Antalya. The tradition that the city was founded by the “mixed people” who wandered across Asia Minor soon after the Trojan War, led by Amphilochos, Mopsos, and Kalchas (Hdt. 2.91; Strab. 668), seems trustworthy; statue bases of the last two, described as founders, stood at the main gate in Roman times. In the Athenian tribute lists [P]erge is included, with an unknown tribute, in the assessment of 425 B.C., but does not occur earlier. When Alexander arrived in 333 Perge welcomed him, supplied guides to lead his army from Phaselis (Arr. 1.26), and served as his base for operations in Pamphylia. After Alexander's death the city came under the Seleucids until Magnesia in 190; in 188 a Seleucid garrison still remained to be expelled by Manlius (Polyb. 21.4; Livy 38.37). The city later came under the Pergamene kings, and was included in the province of Cilicia; the Temple of Artemis Pergaea offered rich booty to Verres in 79 B.C. St. Paul was twice in Perge (Acts 13:13; 14:24). Despite her distinction and prosperity it was only in the 3d c. A.D. that the city acquired the titles of asylos and metropolis. In Byzantine times Perge and Sillyon were normally combined under a single metropolitan, until he was replaced by the metropolitan of Attaleia.

It is generally agreed that the original settlement must have been on the flat-topped hill at the N end of the site, though no early remains have been found there. The lower town was not fortified until the 3d c. B.C. under the Seleucids; about the 4th c. A.D. the area of the city was slightly enlarged by the erection of an outer wall across the S end, but later, in Byzantine times, occupation seems to have returned to the acropolis hill; the scanty surviving ruins are all of this period. The acropolis hill was never fortified.

The main city is divided into four unequal quarters by colonnaded streets crossing at right angles towards the N end; the streets are not quite straight. Down the middle of each ran a broad water channel barred at intervals of 6 m by cross-walls. The N-S street continues outside the city on the S for ca. 0.8 km, and the streets were lined with stoas and shops. The city walls, dating from the 3d c. B.C., are well preserved, especially on the E, and many of the numerous towers stand almost complete. In addition to several posterns there are four main gates, two on the S—one in each of the two walls—and one each on E and W.

The inner, earlier, gate on the S is still in good condition. It has the form of a horseshoe-shaped court flanked by towers in the wall, as at Side and Sillyon; here the towers are round and still stand, though somewhat damaged, nearly to their full height. At the back of the court a triple arch was erected in Roman times, but only the lowest parts of this remain. On a ledge at the foot of the walls of the court stood statues of the founders of the city; these were mostly mythological heroes, including Mopsos and Kalchas. Two of them, however, are M. Plancius Varus and his son, also designated “founders.” The inscribed bases survive, but the statues have not been found. Other statues stood in niches higher up in the wall.

M. Plancius Varus is described in the inscription as father of Plancia Magna, a lady mentioned in numerous inscriptions (nearly a score have been found) in various parts of the city; in some cases she dedicated statues of members of the imperial family, in others her statue was erected by the civic authorities. She was priestess of Artemis, and held the office of demiurgus in the early 2d c. A.D. Her tomb, now almost completely destroyed, stood beside the street outside the later S gate.

In Imperial times an open court was constructed outside the earlier S gate. Its E side was formed by a stoa. In the middle of the S side was a monumental gateway, now ruined; its ornamentation was exceptionally massive. When the 4th c. wall was built the S side of the court was made to form part of it, and the gate became the main gate of the city. Outside it a whole series of marble statues was found, representing the gods of the city. On the W side of the court stood a small nymphaeum, with a water basin backed by a two-storied facade; adjoining this on the N was a propylon with two rows of four Corinthian columns and rich decoration. These buildings, as an inscription shows, date to the time of Septimius Severus. Here also statues were found, two of which—one complete with head—represent Plancia Magna. Behind the nymphaeum to the W are large baths, not yet excavated, with walls standing to a considerable height.

Inside the Hellenistic S gate, E of the colonnaded street, is the agora, ca. 65 m square and surrounded with stoas and shops; it appears to date from the late 2d c. A.D. In the middle (as at Side) is a round building whose character has not yet been determined.

In the NW quarter is the earliest building known inside the wall. It is identified as a palaestra, and is dated by its dedication to Claudius by C. Julius Cornutus. Its S wall, on the street, is well preserved, with numerous windows. Nearby, beside the W city gate, is another bath.

Close below the acropolis hill, beside the short N arm of the N-S street, is a second nymphaeum. This has the familiar form of a water basin enclosed by a back wall with niches and two projecting wings. Along the length of the walls ran a podium supporting Corinthian columns. Statues were found of Artemis, Zeus, and a Roman emperor. An inscription on the podium seems to imply that the building was dedicated by a certain Aur. Seilianus Neonianus Stasias.

Outside the city on the SW are the stadium and the theater. The stadium, excellently preserved, is 234 m long, including a walled-off area 42 m long at the N end. There are twelve rows of seats, with a broad gangway at the top, and at the bottom a narrow passage originally separated from the arena by a barrier. The N end is rounded; at the S end stood an ornamental gateway of which hardly a stone remains. Under the seats on the E side is a vaulted passage divided by cross-walls into 30 rooms; from every third room a door opens into the narrow passage round the arena; the others were used as shops. In some of these the trade of the occupant, and sometimes his name, is inscribed on the wall; the trade of silversmith is mentioned twice.

The theater seated some 14,000 spectators. It has recently been partially excavated and the retaining wall restored. It is of Graeco-Roman type, largely built into the hillside, with a cavea of rather more than a semicircle and a high Roman stage building. The cavea is divided by 13 stairways into 12 cunei, doubled in number above the diazoma. At the top is an arcaded gallery, with an entrance at its middle point. On each side two vaulted vomitoria lead from the hillside to the diazoma. The stage building, of at least two stories, still stands to a considerable height; its frieze of panels with reliefs of Dionysiac scenes is still in fair condition. The outer E face of the building was later converted into a nymphaeum, with five large niches, the smallest in the middle.

The foundations of a temple have recently been excavated 0.8 km S of the city, near the end of the street. It was quite small, with a stylobate some 23 by 14 m, and seems to have been prostyle tetrastyle, with pronaos and cella. The columns were unusual; they stood directly on the stylobate as in the Doric order, but had 24 flutes divided by narrow arrises. The main facade is on the W, and the date appears to be Hellenistic. There is no evidence for attributing the temple to any particular deity, but it is clearly not the Temple of Artemis Pergaia, which was large, in the Ionic order, stood on high ground outside the city, and has never been found. The old idea that its site was indicated by a small church on the acropolis hill was discredited when the church proved to be in reality a cistern, and other hills in the neighborhood have yielded no results.

Tombs stood beside the three roads leading to the city gates on E, W, and S, though only those on the W survive in any quantity: excavation of a street of tombs revealed some 30 sculptured sarcophagi, some of which are now in the Antalya museum.


C. Fellows, Asia Minor (1838) 190-92; K. Lanckoronski, Die Städte Pamphyliens (1890) 33-63MI; G. E. Bean, Turkey's Southern Shore (1968) 45-58MI; excavation reports: Excavations and Researches at Perge, Türk Tarih Kurumu Publications 5.8 (1949); AnatSt (1968).


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