Pergamon Asclepion, the world's best and most versatile ancient hospital that served in the Hellenistic and Roman Empire periods, was built in Izmir's Bergama district in the 4th century BC and has been a treatment center for patients from various parts of the world for 900 years. Apart from the healing water, fresh air, and the treatment methods related to the spa; You can find historical information, treatment methods, places to see and many legends about Asclepion, where many physicians such as Galen, who have been tried in the history of medicine, were tried by suggestion and entertainment, and many legends.
God of Health "Asclepius"
Asclepius, the God of Health in Greek Mythology, was raised by Kheiron, who was half human-half horse. Since he grew in nature, he knew plants very well and he knew very well which plant was good for human health. Although his experience cures people's illnesses, his main goal was to revive dead people. He solved the secret of this by taking the clean blood flowing from the right side of the Gorgons (Euryale, Stheno and Medusa) after they were killed.
Asclepius's resurrection of the dead with the clean blood of the Gorgons disturbed the peace of the god Zeus and sent one of his lightning to Asclepius, destroying him. His father, Apollo, avenged his son by killing the Cyclops, who were the lightning source of Zeus. According to the story told in Anatolian lands, after the death of Asclepius, the prescription that Asclepius held was mixed with the soil, and with the rains, a panacea appeared here. Wild garlic, which is still used in the treatment of diseases today, is grown in Pergamon Asclepion and its surrounding.
The temples and healing centers built in the name of Asclepius, the god of health, in the Hellenistic Period are called "Asclepion". The caretaker and healing priests living in the houses built next to these places and believed to be descendants of Asclepius are called "Asclepiades". In this regard, while the most important healing center of the Classical World is Epidaurus in Greece, Pergamon Asclepion comes second.
What is the foundation legend of Pergamon Asclepion?
When Arkhias, son of Aristakhminos and the noble person of the period, fell and broke his leg while hunting on the slopes of Madra Mountain one day, he was taken to Epidauros and he was treated there. When he returned to Pergamon, he wanted to establish a more magnificent and multi-faceted healing center in Pergamon to express his gratitude to the God of Health (4th century BC). The new healing center, which was established outside the city, on the slope of the Geyikli Mountain, was moved further in time and took its final form during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian (AD 117-138). Especially in the Roman period, it became one of the best healing centers in the world, where many methods used to heal patients and still valid today were tried for the first time.
What are the treatment methods used in Asclepion?
The suggestion method used today to heal various diseases was the most effective treatment method applied in Asclepion of Pergamon for centuries. Orator Aelius Aristides stated the treatment methods used in Asclepion in his work named "Hieroi Logoi". These included suggestion therapy, hot, cold and mud baths for physical illnesses, medicinal herbs, diet cures, massages with vegetable oil or ointments, blood removal (hajemat), emptying the intestines, sunbathing therapies. If necessary, surgical interventions are also performed.
Father of Pharmacy "Galen (Claudius Galenus)"
Galen is a world-renowned medical doctor who was born in Pergamon in 129 AD. Thanks to his architect father, he had very good financial opportunities and he received medical education from Satyros in Pergamon Asclepion at the age of 16. After going to Corinth and then Alexandria to complete his education, he returned to Pergamon at the age of 28 and continued his studies in a gladiator school. Since he treated gladiators here, he developed his knowledge of anatomy and became the chief physician of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, first at a larger gladiator school in Rome.
Galen is both a physician and a chemist. His 83 treatment methods have survived until today. He was the first physician to make medicine by mixing herbs and a few active ingredients. Therefore, its nickname is "medicina", the Latin word meaning drug / curative. Today he is known as the "father of pharmacy".
What are the places to see in Asclepion?
In the holy area of Asclepion, you can see a courtyard with a gallery, a 3500-seat theater, a cult hall belonging to Emperor Hadrian, a library, the Temple of Asclepios, sleeping rooms, the holy spring and pools.
Viran Kapı (Ruined Gate)
The entrance to Asclepion during the Roman period was through the arched door, which has only a short wall today and is called the Viran Kapı by the people. However, due to the prestige and importance of the hospital, pregnant women and those with fatal diseases were never allowed inside. According to a rumor, "Death Is Forbidden In Asclepion For The Blessing Of All Gods" was written on the Ruined Gate. With this important suggestion, it must have been aimed to establish the belief that patients will definitely recover inside.
Via Tecta (Sacred Way)
The patients who entered the Ruined Gate walked the Via Tecta road, about 1 kilometer, and were greeted by the priest physicians (Asclepiades) at the end of the road. In order to protect the patients from adverse weather conditions, there were shops that were closed on the road and selling offerings and items that would help patients on the right and left to find healing.
Heroon is the name given to the mausoleums built in ancient Greece to honor heroes or kings. The Heroon of Asclepius was built in the southern part of the Via Tecta road during the reign of Emperor Augustus (27 BC - AD 14) for a respected person or a person likely to belong to a hero. It is not known to whom it belongs.
This monumental door (Propylon), where the patients walking the Via Tecta road were welcomed by the priests and was first diagnosed, is surrounded by galleries in Corinthian style on 3 sides and was built by the Roman consul Claudius Charax in the 2nd century AD. If the patient who came here cannot be treated, he would not be allowed in.
Although the Pergamon Asclepion took its final form in the 2nd century AD, the history of the holy fountain and pool located here goes back to the 4th century BC. In other words, since the beginning of life in Pergamon, it has been believed that the water here is sacred.
Kryptoporiktus (Underground Passage)
The 70 meters long underground passage (Kryptoporiktus) connects the sleeping rooms and the treatment building in Asclepion. Since it was covered with vaults, it protected the patients from hot and cold weather. In addition, the mystical air formed here, together with the sound of the holy water dripping from the top of the tunnel, helped the patients recover.
The square structure to the east of the north gallery served both as the emperor's hall and as a library.
The Ancient Theater
The Ancient Theater, estimated to have been built by a nobleman from Pergamon, has 3500 people capacity and 3 floors. At the bottom is a lodge for the emperors, and its stage has 3 floors. With this feature, it is the first among the ancient theaters built in Anatolia. In time, music and dance shows were organized here that would be good for the patients.
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