Πέργη (in Ancient Greek)
Perge (in Turkish)
Shown within Turkey
|Location||Aksu, Antalya Province, Turkey|
|Founded||By 1209 BC|
|Periods||Greek Dark Ages to Middle Ages|
|Cultures||Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Turkish|
Perga or Perge (Greek: Πέργη Perge, Turkish: Perge) was an ancient Greek city in Anatolia, once the capital of Pamphylia Secunda, now in Antalya Province on the southwestern Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Today, it is a large site of ancient ruins 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) east of Antalya on the coastal plain. An acropolis located there dates back to the Bronze Age.
Perga was an ancient and important city of Pamphylia, between the rivers Catarrhactes and Cestrus (Turkish Aksu Çayı).
A treaty between the Hittite Great King Tudhaliya IV and his vassal, the king of Tarhuntassa, defined the latter's western border at the city "Parha" and the "Kastaraya River". The river is assumed to be the classical Cestrus. West of Parha were the "Lukka Lands". Parha likely spoke a late Luwian dialect like Lycian and that of the neo-Hittite kingdoms.
Perge returns to history as a Pamphylian Greek city, and with Pamphylia came under successive rule by Persians, Athenians, and Persians again. Alexander the Great, after quitting Phaselis, occupied Perge with a part of his army. The road between these two towns is described as long and difficult. Alexander's rule was followed by the Diadochi empire of the Seleucids, then the Romans.
Perge gained renown for the worship of Artemis, whose temple stood on a hill outside the town, and in whose honour annual festivals were celebrated. The coins of Perge represent both the goddess and her temple.
In 46 A.D., according to the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul journeyed to Perga, from there continued on to Antiocheia in Pisidia, then returned to Perga where he preached the word of God (Acts 14:25). Then he left the city and went to Attaleia.
As the Cestrus silted up over the late Roman era, Perga declined as a secular city. In the first half of the 4th century, during the reign of Constantine the Great (324-337), Perga became an important centre of Christianity, which soon became the official religion of the Roman Empire. The city retained its status as a Christian centre in the 5th and 6th centuries.
St. Paul the Apostle and his, companion St. Barnabas, twice visited Perga as recorded in the biblical book, the Acts of the Apostles, during their first missionary journey, where they "preached the word" before heading for and sailing from Attalia (modern-day Antalya city), 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) to the southwest, to Antioch.
Paul and Barnabas came to Perge during their first missionary journey, but probably stayed there only a short time, and do not seem to have preached there; it was there that John Mark left Paul to return to Jerusalem. On his return from Pisidia, Paul preached at Perge.
St. Matrona of Perge of the 6th century was a female saint known for temporarily cross-dressing to avoid her abusive husband. She also is known for opposing the Monophysite policy of the emperor Anastasios I. Matrona hid in the monastery of St. Bassion as the enuch Babylos. Once revealed, she was sent to a woman’s monastery where she was head of the convent. She was famous for her miraculous gift of healing. She went on to found a nunnery in Constantinople. St Matrona died at the age of 100. Her life was told through a vita prima whose author and exact time period remains a mystery.
The Greek Notitiae episcopatuum mentions the city as metropolis of Pamphylia Secunda until the 13th century. Le Quien gives the names of 11 of its bishops: Epidaurus, present at the Council of Ancyra in 312; Callicles at the First Council of Nicaea in 325; Berenianus, at Constantinople (426); Epiphanius at the Second Council of Ephesus (449), at the First Council of Chalcedon (451), and a signatory of the letter from the bishops of the province to Emperor Leo (458); Hilarianus, at a council at Constantinople in 536; Eulogius, at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553; Apergius, condemned as a Monothelite at the Third Council of Constantinople in 680; John, at the Trullan council in 692; Sisinnius Pastillas about 754 (an iconoclast who was condemned at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787); Constans, at the same council of that condemned his predecessor; John, at the Council of Constantinople of 869–70.
No longer a residential, the bishopric is included in the Catholic Church's list of titular sees.
Perga remained inhabited until the foundation of the Seljuk Empire, roughly 1000 CE.
Perga is today an archaeological site and a tourist attraction. There were numerous excavations and discoveries since 1946. Ancient Perge, one of the chief cities of Pamphylia, was situated between the Rivers Catarrhactes (Düden Nehri) and Cestrus (Aksu), 60 stadia (about 11.1 kilometres (6.9 mi)) from the mouth of the latter; the site is in the modern Turkish village of Murtana on the Suridjik sou, a tributary of the Cestrus, formerly in the Ottoman vilayet of Konya. Its ruins include a theatre, a palaestra, a temple of Artemis and two churches. The temple of Artemis was located outside the town. Many of the coins struck in the city portrayed both the goddess and her sanctuary.
Another big ancient city in the area is Selge, Pisidia, located about 20km to the northeast.
The Perge has been dubbed as “Turkey’s second Zeugma” for the alluring appearance of the mosaics that have been unearthed so far. In 2003, archaeologists discovered well-preserved Greek mosaics showcasing Oceanus and Medusa. In 2017, discovered a mosaic depicting the sacrifice of Iphigenia.
A 1,700-year-old full-body statue of a dressed female with her broken head from the Hellenistic period were revealed by archaeologists headed by Sedef Cokay Kepçe in July in 2020. The statue, believed to have been built during the Roman Empire, will be on display at the Antalya Museum.