Pergamum (Turkish: Bergama), an ancient city and kingdom in Asia Minor (now Turkey). The city was about 50 miles (80 km) north of Smyrna (now Izmir). The modern town of Bergama is at the foot of the ancient acropolis.
Pergamum was settled by Greek colonists. It became an independent kingdom in 283 B.C. Attalus I (ruled 241–197 B.C.) and Eumenes II (197–160 B.C.) sided with Rome in its wars in Greece and the Near East, and as a result received much of Asia Minor. Attalus III willed his kingdom to Rome, and on his death in 133 B.C. most of the kingdom became the Roman province of Asia.
Pergamum had one of the finest libraries of ancient times. Large amounts of parchment were manufactured here. (The word parchment is a corruption of membrana Pergamena, “skins of Pergamum.”) During 1876–78 German archeologists found a huge altar to Zeus in the ruins of Pergamum. It is adorned by a frieze, 400 feet (122 m) long and more than 7 feet (2 m) tall, on which are sculptures depicting a battle between gods and giants. The frieze, which was taken to Berlin, is a landmark of Hellenistic art.