Great Altar of Zeus at Pergamon

Great Altar of Zeus at Pergamon

Date second quarter of 2nd century

Movement Greek | Hellenistic

Medium Marble

Dimensions life-size

Provenance Pergamon, Turkey

Housed at Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Antikensammlung


This grand altar was commissioned either by Emenes II or Attalos II to commemorate war victories. Though many massive Ionic altars were constructed in the Hellenistic era, this remains the best known example. Theatricality is heavily at play: a grand staircase leads visitors past a massive frieze depicting the Battle of Gods and Giants, whose figures nearly pop out onto the stairs; and up through an Ionic portico until arriving at the altar itself.