Author: Douglas Ho
Perge or Perga, located 19 km east of Antalya, used to be one of the most important cities of ancient Pamphylia. Its most notable son was Apollonius, a mathematician and an astronomer who who gave the ellipse, the parabola, and the hyperbola the names by which we know them. In ancient times, Perge was also renowned as a sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Artemis whose temple stood on a hill outside the town. Unfortunately, despite intensive searching, researchers have so far failed to find any traces of this once magnificent building.
The earliest archaeological finds from the area of the acropolis of Perge are dated to the end of the fifth millennium BC. The oldest traces of continuous settlement begin in the third millennium BC and demonstrate that the city existed until the Byzantine era.
Christianity reached Perge in the first century Ad and was introduced to its inhabitants by Paul the Apostle. He came to Perge by the sea route, during his first missionary journey (45-48 AD), in the company of Barnabas and John Mark, but soon went on his way, to Pisidian Antioch. On the way back to the coast, St. Paul stayed in Perge for a longer time, preaching and teaching. Most likely it was when the first church in Perge was erected.
In the first and second centuries AD Perge was one of the greatest cities in Asia Minor, competing with Side for the role of the Pamphylian capital. Most of the best preserved buildings in the city are dated to this period. The person responsible for the development of Perge was Plancia Magna, the wife and sister of Roman senators, born into the family of Cappadocian kings and a relative of Herod the Great. Her statue, found near the Hellenistic Gate in Perge, is now in the Archaeological Museum in Antalya.
The third and last period of city prosperity came in the 5th and the 6th centuries AD, when the city had a rank of a bishopric. Unfortunately, the end of Perge was very close, as in the 8th century it was razed to the ground during the Arab invasions of Asia Minor and has never been rebuilt.
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