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Title / Description: Foundation of the Altar of ZeusCommentary:
Object Location: The Altar of Zeus has been partially reconstructed and is on display in the Berlin Museum.
Provenance: Pergamon, Turkey
Object Type: image - architecture
Date: 2nd c. BCE
The Altar of Zeus consists of a major monument of the acropolis ofPergamon, the capital of the Attalid kingdom (283q33 BCE) and later amajor city in the Roman province of Asia. A frieze, running for 446 feet around the base of the altar depicted a gigantomacny, a battle of the gods and the giants. The frieze symbolized in general the triumph of human civilization over the forces of chaos that lurk beneath human society, and, more particularly, the victory of Attalus I (241q97) over the Celts. The altar and its frieze were built as part of a program by Eumenes II (197q53) to beautify the acropolis. The frieze was taken from the site and reassembled in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin in the 1930's, where it remains to this day. Some commentators on Rev 2:13 have suggested that the "throne of Satan" at Pergamon refers to this altar.
For a different view of the altar base, see Foundation of the Altar of Zeus.
E. V. Hansen, The Attalids of Pergamon (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1947); Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,1977) 95; Edwin Yamauchi, The Archeology of New Testament Cities in Western Asia Minor (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980) 35s6; VolkerKaestner, "The Architecture of the Great Altar of Pergamon," in HelmutKoester, ed., Pergamon, Citadel of the Gods: Archaeological Record,Literary Description, and Religious Development (Harvard TheologicalStudies 46; Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1998) 137-62; Adela Yarbro Collins, "Pergamon in Early Christian Literature," ibid. 163-84.
Author of Commentary: Harold Attridge
Source: Attridge, Harold W. Harold Attridge slide collection