020 - Fig1

PHRC020 : Dedication of the priestess Metris to Attalos I, Mamurt Kale (Pergamon) - Mysia (240-197 BC) Dedication

This altar was dedicated by a priestess in the sanctuary of the Mother of the gods in Mamurt Kale, on the top of the mount Yund Dağ situated about 30 kilometers SE of Pergamon. The altar, the biggest among the specimens of Attalid ruler cults at Pergamon, was probably erected during the reign of Attalos and made the king a synnaos theos of the goddess. It was big enough to possibly host small animal sacrifices besides libations and censing rituals.

Permanent ID http://s.phrc.it/phrc020

Photo 1: Photo of the altar; photo R. Rohrer ©D-DAI-ATH-Pergamon-1448, courtesy of the Deutsche Archäologische Institut (DAI)
Photo 2: Detail of the inscription; photo R. Rohrer ©D-DAI-ATH-Pergamon-1449, courtesy of the Deutsche Archäologische Institut (DAI)
Photo 3: Plan of the sanctuary, from Arachne.uni-koeln.de, photo Repro_8005376.jpg

Current location

Archaeological Museum of Bergama


Object Type: Altar
Big rectangular altar of andesite with upper (lost) and lower cornice. Unlike marble, andesite is a local volcanic stone abundantly available in Pergamon and in the surrounding plain of the Kaikos river.
Material: Andesite
Height: 83 cm
Width: 60 cm
Depth: 48,5 cm


The text is disposed on three lines aligned with the left-hand side of the shaft.
The letter shape plausibly points to the reign of Attalos I (see in particular A with horizontal cross-bar), but cf. the warnings at PHRC018.


Date: Probably between 240 and 197 BC
Justification: Formulary and lettering
Provenance: Found in the sanctuary of the Meter Aspordene at Mamurt Kale (on top of the mount Yünd Dag, 1000m above sea level), about 30 km SE of Pergamon


Text constituted from: MDAI(A) 33 (1908), p. 403-404, no. 32.

Other editions: .

See also: Suk Fong Jim 2017; Caneva 2020.

Images: Caneva 2019, figs. 20a-b.

Further bibliography: on the sanctuary, see Conze - Schazmann 1911; Radt 1999, p. 243-244; Williamson 2014 p. 97-105; Steuernagel 2015, p. 362-363.

Online record: PHI


Bασιλεῖ Ἀττάλει
Σωτῆρι Μήτρεις ἡ


(S. Caneva)
To King Attalos Soter, the priestess Metris.


(S. Caneva)
Al re Attalo Soter, la sacerdotessa Metris.


The sanctuary of the Mother Aspordene (for this epiclesis, see Strabo 13.2.6) at Mamurt Kale was monumentalized by Philetairos and Eumenes I in the mid-3rd century, under the influence of the models set up by the Hekatomnids in Karia (Williamson 2014; Steuernagel 2015, p. 302-303). The erection of the altar of Attalos I probably dates to the reign of this king (for the political and ideological context, see commentary to PHRC018).

In this case, the dedication mentiones the donor's name and function: the priestess Metris, plausibly the priestess of the cult of the Mother in this sanctuary atop the Yung Dağ. The presence of her name reveals the intention of the donor to make her adherence to the ruler cult explicit and to increase her prestige in front of the community (Caneva 2020). The size of the altar, the biggest of the dossier concerning personal initiatives related to the Attalid ruler cult, is coherent with the dedication of an agent belonging to the elite of Pergamon.

Unlike the other specimens, this altar could possibly host small animal offerings in addition to libations and censing rituals. The dedication of an altar to Attalos I within the area of the sanctuary made the king a synnaos theos of the Mother. Accordingly, the king would receive honours ranking higher than those for other persons whose statue would be erected inside the precinct. Honorific practice at Mamurt Kale seems to predate the reign of Attalos, as suggested by the base of a small statue of Antiochis, the mother of Attalos I, dedicated by his homonymous father Attalos, who was the nephew of the dynast Philetairos (Conze – Schazmann 1911, p. 38-39; Williamson 2014, p. 99).

Stefano Caneva, on 26.02.2019
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Travocial - Social Travel & Storytelling Practicalities of Hellenistic Ruler Cults
Marie Curie PISCOPIA project no. PISC14IGRU, University of Padova (2015-2017)
FNRS project no. 98368 (2017-2020)
Stefano Caneva
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The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Commission, Seventh Framework Programme, under Grant Agreement n° 600376 (2015-2017), and from the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS), Belgium (2017-2020).
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