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The Great Altar at Pergamon

Photo of Pergamon site
  • Pergamon site. Photo. M.Hirmer
Photo of Great Altar in Berlin
  • The Great Altar removed to Berlin. Photo: R.R.R.Smith Hellenistic Sculpture fig.193

This unusal monument was built sometime in the mid 2nd century BC. Most of it was excavated and brought to Berlin around 1886.

Pergamon groundplan

We do not know how long it took to construct, why some parts of it are unfinished, or to which god it was dedicated. It consists of a colonnaded building standing on a large podium with a wide flight of stairs at the front. This building, decorated inside with a frieze depicting the life-story of Telephos, housed the altar proper. A frieze round the podium shows the battle between gods and Giants. Various small sculptures stood on the roof.

More about the east podium frieze | west podium frieze | north podium frieze | interior frieze

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