Images of Antiquity: Pamukkale & Pergamum, Pt. 3

Continuing my series "Images of Antiquity," I offer here some photos and thoughts on sights near Pamukkale & Pergamum, both in Turkey. You may copy, save, use and distribute these pictures in their present format. Please do not manipulate or change them. Thanks and enjoy!


The picture to the left is of a theater in Pamukkale. Actually, the theater is located in a city that was known as Hierapolis. This is one of the most restored and therefore detailed theaters that exists today. You can see the decorations at the back of the stage and the various entrances onto the stage. The musicians would sit in the semi-circle in front of the stage or sometimes beneath the stage. Located just behind the stage (you cannot really see it here, is a temple of Apollo). Hierapolis means "Holy City" in Greek. It was known for it hot springs and is located not far from the ancient cities of Colossae and Laodicea.

When one visits Hierapolis today, they have to first go through another small town, a place known as "Nekropolis," which means "City of Death" or "Death City." It is called this because it literally contains thousands upon thousands of tombs and sarcophagi. The picture to the left is of one such tomb. This grave would hold anywhere from 6-12 people. Inside the tomb are levels of shelves that the dead bodies would be laid on.

Here is another picture of the tombs. Again, there are literally thousands upon thousands of tombs that cover an entire mountainside. It is possible that the author of Revelation had such sites in mind when he said, "...you are dead." There are other such sites near Sardis and Petra. A number of the tombs were shaped in the form of male and female reproductive organs. These were often dedicated to the gods or goddesses of fertility. Many of the tombs had large crosses on the doors but scholars are agreed that these could have come no earlier than the 4th century CE.


This is a photograph taken from just below the acropolis ("high city") in Pergamum. If you look closely, you can see the acropolis on top of the mountain. It looks small here but was very large. This gives a bit of insight to sayings such as "A city on a hill cannot be hidden." Actually, this photo was taken at the Asklepion. The Asklepion was the ancient healing center, devoted to the god of healing, Asklepius.

Here is a picture of an underground chamber at the Asklepion. Patients would go through a mudbath, take a hallucinogen and then be led to this dark chamber. They would be told to sleep here until the god Asklepius spoke to them in the middle of the night. When they heard the voice they were to follow his commands. If you look at the bottom center of the picture, you will notice a small hole in the wall. This is actually a pipe-like hole. Those working for the Asklepion were the ones who actually spoke through these pipes in the middle of the night, acting as the god.

We move now, from the Asklepion to the temple of Trajan on the Pergamum acropolis. This may be alluded to in Rev. 2.13 as the "throne of satan." Trajan was an evil emperor. Unfortunately, many of the artifacts have been taken by archeologists to a museum in Berlin and they refuse to return them to Turkey. In this photo you can see part of the remaining roof (middle left of the picture), a column, some walls and an altar. This altar may also be alluded to in Rev. 2.

This is an interesting photo, I think. I took the photo because it really shows the contextual aspect of Revelation. This is a picture of a store located at the base of the city of Pergamum where they make earthenware (e.g. pottery, vases, etc.) fired from onyx, sapphire, jasper, etc. This could very well be the place where the author of Revelation gets his imagery when he says things such as: "And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne" (4.3), "It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal" (21.11), "The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass" (21.18) and "The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald" (21.19).

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