I can show you an Aesclepion first hand. We visited Bergama while traveling in Turkey. In that modern city are the ruins of the ancient city of Pergamon, and in that ancient city is one of the largest if not the largest Aesclepion in the world. This is a fascinating place in Turkey, that was a total surprise to me. Since returning home, I have learned more and found this history even more fascinating.
|A drawing of the way the Aesclepion appeared in 2nd century AD.|
For centuries, the Companion Cavalry was a select group of Macedonian soldier/horsemen who served the current Macedonian king both in important battles and as his personal guard. This unit became most know under Alexander the Great. In about 301 BC Lysimachos, one of the successful commanders in this elite Cavalry was assigned by Alexander to deliver 9,000 talents (1 talent + $7500) of war booty to Philiterios, the governor of the small city of Pergamon, located on the coast of Asia Minor and in view of the island of Lesbos. Lysimachos delivered the money and set himself up as ruler of Thrace and Asia Minor. After his death, Philiterios made use of this money to become the first ruler of the Kingdom of Pergamon. He established a Hellenistic dynasty that successfully ruled this small kingdom for 150 years, building a city that rivaled Athens with many structures that were copied directly from Athenian buildings. Eumenes I, Attalos I, and Eumenes II were successive rulers. Successive rulers followed until Attalos III peacefully signed over his kingdom to the Romans when he died in 133 BC. The city went on to become even more a local capitol under the Romans. Various Roman structures including a Roman theater were added and there were some modifications of Greek structures by the Romans. The Library of Pergamon is famous second only to the Library of Alexandria. It contained 200,000 volumes and under Roman rule, portions of that library were given as a wedding present to Cleopatra by Mark Anthony to help replenish the destroyed Alexandrian Library
The city's Acropolis rivaled that of Athens and was built on a high promontory over looking the lowlands abutting the Aegean Sea. The Greek Theatre located on the slope of the Acropolis is the steepest theatre known from ancient Greek times. It would house 10,000 people seated on the hillside slope. Greek theatres were always built into a hillside. Whereas Roman theatres usually were constructed on level ground.
|In this photo you can see ruins of the Roman Temple at the|
east end of the Acropolis hill. You can see the Via Tecta
slanting from right to left down the slope.
After entering the courtyard of the Aesclepion, to the right is the Emperor's room, which was later used as a local library. Further along the North Stoia (colonnaded walkway) is the Roman Theatre. This was used to entertain the patients as well as to educate the staff of the Aesclepion. This small theatre could seat 1500 people, has been restored and is now used to present local shows. The stage in Roman times was backed by a 2 story facade, whereas the amphitheatre on the slope of the Acropolis had a stage facade of three stories.
|Via Tecta, The Sacred Way (to Aesclepion)|
|The Library (also called the Emperor's Room)|
|Northern Stoia with Theatre beyond|
|Closer view of the Theatre|
|One of the Sacred Springs still flowing with healing waters.|
|The tunnel, to transport patients comfortably from healing springs to the sleeping and treatment rooms.|
|First floor of the treatment facility (Temple of Telesphorus).|
|Main floor of the treatment facility.|
|Marble foundation of the round Temple of Asclepius, adjacent to the Treatment Facility.|
Inside the modern city of Bergama, there is the Temple of Serapis, built for the Egyptian Gods in the 2nd c. AD. and called the Red Courtyard by locals. This is a basilica shaped building constructed under the reign of Hadrian. Then, in the 4th century, it was converted into a church dedicated to St. John and became one of the Seven Churches of Christianity (those mentioned by St. John in Revelations).
|The Red Courtyard (basilica), in downtown Bergama.|