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PESSINOUS Galatia, Turkey.

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 and 7.17. 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.


TurkArkDerg (1967) 113-31; P. Lambrechts, De Brug (1967ff)PI; K. Bittel, “Beobachtungen in Pessinus,” AA (1967) 142-50P; 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.


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