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Database Browser to the Pergamon Altar

After its restauration, which was worth around 3 million Euros, the Pergamon Altar has reached the state of preservation equal to that of the time of discovery. The appearance has quickly been altered by additions and damages by decades of dust precipitation. Today, the surface is in a state that astonishes visitors of the museum as well as experts. Because of that, the entire frieze has been photographically documented in several steps, which is complimented by detailed shots of the heads. In order to gain visibility of the newly accomplished state of preservation within research and teaching, an image-browser that follows the concept of the often used Ara Pacis Browser in ARACHNE is to be developed with the help of the Fritz-Thyssen-Stiftung.

The Pergamon Altar belongs to a very small group of exceptional monuments for Classical Archaeology, to which the Ara Pacis in Rome or the frieze of the Parthenon of the Athenian Acropolis belong as well. Even though it was less famous in antiquity, the altar assumes the position of a central monument for the research and understanding of the Hellenistic era. The Attalids demonstrate and legitimize their rule in western Asia Minor as a transmitter and preserver of culture with the topic of the overcoming of the giants by the Olympian gods. This power political statement is culturally supported by a compendium of figures from the world of Greek gods and giants. The length of the frieze shows even the most remote and almost never depicted figures alongside the central Olympian gods in a seldom preserved manner with a number of more than 180 figures. Due to the lack of knowledge on several figures and to the nonconformity of the depicted to the many rules of ancient iconography, semantic fringes of the god and giant depictions can lead to hermeneutic difficulties in the recognizability of the meaning. These contradictions between completeness and unknown has been handled by an overarching concept from content-based to cosmic categorization. The smaller and stylistically less pathetic Telephos-Frieze wants to reclaim a more concrete starting point for the geographic region of Pergamon within the mythological founding story of Greekdom. By this Pergamenic rulers, who also give examples of classicism and musealization, show their handling of Greek culture in all its aspects, which are summarized and concentrated here. The Pergamon Altar is considered a fixed monument of style history especially because of heavy fragmentation and desperate deliverance of other Hellenistic monuments – with all effects and side effects for the interpretation and derivation of certain aspects from late Republican to early Imperial form language as “pergamenic”, especially because such a well persevered object within many lost Hellenistic cultural centers with its concrete impact can result in an intensification – a discussion that sometimes continues to the pergamenic sculptor Phyromachos. Nevertheless, the Pergamon Altar can be considered to be of highest standard for Hellenistic and ancient art.

In order to raise awareness to these baselines of investigation of the Pergamon Altar in its functional, iconographic and stylistic regards in its newly acquired condition, courses at the Archaeological Institute of the University of Cologne (Prof. Dr. D. Boschung, Prof. Dr. R. Förtsch) and Berlin (FU, PD. Dr. A. Scholl) were supposed to take place in the winter semester 2006/2007 so that further investigations on separate topics can be undertaken. An internet-based web browser that integrates the already included and successively added photos of the new condition into its inventory and is easy to use, is supposed to be a visual instrument for courses and research. Its programming and image documentation are done in independent works.

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Dietrich Boschung, Prof. Dr. Reinhard Förtsch, Prof. Dr. Andreas Scholl

Cooperation: Freie Universität Berlin

Funding: Fritz Thyssen Stiftung