Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Great Library of Pergamum

Photo: Ancient Libraries of the Mediterranean

About 2 hours' drive northeast of the coastal Turkish city of Izmir lie the ruins of the ancient city of Pergamum (Turkish name Bergama).

Here stood a great library of Hellenic and Roman times. Containing 200,000 scrolls, it rivaled the Library of Alexandria. When Egypt banned the export of papyrus, a substitute material was made from animal skins. It was called parchment, after the name of the city.

It was here that Galen, an early experimental physiologist, worked on his medical books. He was later called to Rome to attend the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, a noted writer and philosopher.

Pergamum also boasted the steepest theatre in the ancient world. As is the case with so many ancient sites, huge numbers of artifacts have been taken away. The Pergamon Museum in Berlin is wholly devoted to displaying the treasures of this ancient city.

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