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Pergamum (pûr´gəməm), ancient city of NW Asia Minor, in Mysia (modern Turkey), in the fertile valley of the Caicus. It became important c.300 BC, after the breakup of the Macedonian empire, when a Greek family (the Attalids) established a brilliant center of Hellenistic civilization. The kingdom achieved major importance under Attalus I (d. 197 BC), Eumenes II (d. 160 or 159), and Attalus II (d. 138). These kings followed a pro-Roman policy through fear of the imperialism of Philip V of Macedon and of Antiochus III of Syria. The independence of Pergamum ended dramatically when Attalus III (d.133) bequeathed the kingdom to the Roman people. The chief glory of Pergamum was its sculpture, at two periods. The first Pergamene school (c.250–200) celebrated the decisive victory (c.230) of Attalus I over the Galatians; the Dying Gaul is an example of the realism of the art. The later period (200–150) produced a frieze for a great altar of Zeus, glorifying especially the defeat (190) of Antiochus III of Syria at Magnesia. Pergamum was the birthplace of Galen. The cultured Pergamene rulers also built up a library second only to the one at Alexandria. One of the library's specialties was the use of parchment, which takes its name from the city. Eventually the library was given by Antony to Cleopatra. Under Rome, Pergamum was reconstituted as the province of Asia, and Ephesus rapidly eclipsed Pergamum as the chief city of Asia Minor. Pergamum accepted Christianity early; it was one of the Seven Churches of Asia (Rev.1.11; 2.12). Various forms of the name are Pergamus, Pergamon, and Pergamos. The modern town of Bergama, Izmir prov., is on the site of ancient Pergamum.

See R. B. McShane, Foreign Policy of the Attalids of Pergamum (1964).

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PERGAMUM , ancient city (and kingdom) near the N.W. coast of Asia Minor (now Bergama, Turkey). Independent from the early third century b.c.e., Pergamum thrived primarily during the early Roman advances eastward in the first half of the second century. Following the death of the last king of Pergamum, Attalus iii Philometor (133 b.c.e.), the district came under direct Roman influence as part of the province of Asia. Josephus records a "decree of the people of Pergamum" pertaining to relations with the Jewish nation (Ant., 14:247–55). The document, probably written during the reign of John Hyrcanus i (c. 113–112), refers to a decree of the Roman senate renewing its alliance with the Jews. Of particular interest are its concluding assurances of friendship between Pergamum and Hyrcanus, "remembering that in the time of Abraham, who was the father of all Hebrews, our ancestors were their friends, as we find in the public records." A similar claim, describing the common ancestry of the Jews and Spartans, is recorded elsewhere (cf. Jos., Ant., 12:226; i Macc. 12:21; cf. ii Macc. 5:9), and these should be understood as an accepted mode of Greek diplomatic correspondence. Relations between Judea and Pergamum are further cited by Josephus during the reign of Herod the Great, who included the city among those to which generous donations and gifts were offered (Wars, 1:425). By the first century b.c.e. a Jewish community existed in Pergamum, as Cicero refers to the confiscation of funds in Pergamum intended for the Temple in Jerusalem (Pro Flacco 28:68).


Schuerer, Gesch, 3 (19094), 13, 112 n. 45; idem, Hist, 322 n. 30; M. Stern, Ha-Te'udot le-Mered ha-Ḥashmona'im (1965), 151–3, 162–5; A. Schalit, Koenig Herodes (1969), 834 (index), s.v.Pergamon.

[Isaiah Gafni]

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Pergamum Ancient city-state on the site of modern Bergama, w Turkey. It was founded by Greek colonists under licence from the Persian Emperors in the 4th century bc. At its peak in the 3rd–2nd centuries bc, it controlled much of w Asia Minor. In 133 bc, it was bequeathed to Rome by Attalus III.

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Pergamum a city in ancient Mysia, in western Asia Minor, situated to the north of Izmir on a rocky hill close to the Aegean coast. The capital in the 3rd and 2nd centuries bc of the Attalid dynasty, it was one of the greatest and most beautiful of the Hellenistic cities and was famed for its cultural institutions, especially its library, which was second only to that at Alexandria. The word parchment derives partly from its name.