The Attalid Kingdom of Pergamum was an ancient Hellenistic kingdom located in the region of Asia Minor, in modern-day Turkey. The kingdom was established by Attalus I, who declared himself king in 241 BC, after the death of his uncle, the powerful Seleucid king Antiochus III. The Attalids ruled for over two centuries, until the kingdom was annexed by the Roman Republic in 133 BC.
Pergamum was a strategically important city, situated on a hill overlooking the plain of the Caicus River. It was surrounded by strong fortifications, making it an impregnable fortress. Pergamum was also a center of culture and learning, boasting a library that was second only to the Library of Alexandria in Egypt. The city was known for its fine arts, including sculpture and painting, and it was a center for the production of parchment, a material used for writing that was derived from animal skins.
Under the Attalid dynasty, Pergamum became a major power in the Hellenistic world. The Attalid kings were great patrons of the arts and sciences, and they were known for their cultural achievements. Attalus I was responsible for the construction of several impressive buildings in Pergamum, including a temple dedicated to Athena and a palace for the royal family. His successor, Eumenes II, was an even greater patron of the arts, commissioning several impressive works of sculpture and sponsoring the construction of the famous Great Altar of Pergamum.
The Great Altar of Pergamum was a massive structure, measuring over 36 meters in width and 34 meters in depth. It was covered in intricate reliefs that depicted scenes from Greek mythology, including the battle between the Olympian gods and the Giants. The altar was a testament to the power and wealth of the Attalid kings, and it remains one of the most impressive works of Hellenistic art.
In addition to their cultural achievements, the Attalids were also skilled diplomats and military leaders. They maintained alliances with other Hellenistic powers, including the Seleucid Empire and the Kingdom of Macedonia, and they played a key role in the politics of the region. The Attalids were also able to repel several invasions by the Galatians, a Celtic tribe that had settled in the region.
Despite their many accomplishments, the Attalids were eventually absorbed into the Roman Republic. In 133 BC, Attalus III, the last king of Pergamum, died without an heir, and he bequeathed his kingdom to the Roman people. The Roman Republic annexed Pergamum and established it as a province, bringing an end to the Attalid dynasty.
The legacy of the Attalid Kingdom of Pergamum lives on, however, in the many works of art and architecture that they left behind. The Great Altar of Pergamum, along with many other impressive sculptures and buildings, continue to inspire awe and wonder to this day. The Attalids were an important part of the rich cultural tapestry of the ancient world, and their contributions continue to be appreciated and celebrated by scholars and art lovers alike.