After the Acropolis in Athens, and Plato's Academy in the same city, Turkey has made steps to preserve its own cultural heritage in a digital format: four temples of the ancient Greek city of Pergamon will be transformed into a 3D platform and visitors will have a chance to see these ancient venues via their tablets and phones, thus reports the Archaeology News Network. On the shortlist for digitalization are the temple of Zeus, the Altar of Athena, the Red Basilica and the Asklepion.

Pergamon (τὸ Πέργαμον) was a small settlement during the Archaic Period, located in Aeolis, today located 16 miles (26 km) from the Aegean Sea on a promontory on the north side of the river Caicus. The main sites of ancient Pergamon are to the north and west of the modern city of Bergama in Turkey.

The ancient city of Pergamon rose to greatness after receiving a huge sum of money as war expenditures, and became the most eminent center of culture of the Hellenistic period for 150 years. One of its rulers, Eumenes II (197-159 BC), took the acropolis of Athens as an example and had the acropolis of Pergamon adorned with works of art, after which Pergamon became one of the most graceful cities of the world.

One of the most famous buildings that once stood on the property is the Altar of Zeus and Athena, which used to be located to the south of the theater. Eumenes II constructed it as a memorial of the victory against the Galatians. The Altar has the shape of a horseshoe and its dimensions are 36.44 by 34.20 meters. The high reliefs on the outsides of the altar depict the Gigantomachy. At Pergamon, nothing remains of the altar but its foundations; the rest was removed from the site and shipped to Berlin.

The Red Basilica was (and honestly still is) a great temple of the Khemetic Goddess Isis and/or Serapis (Σάραπις), a Graeco-Egyptian God. It is located about one kilometer south of the Acropolis. The temple was built by the Roman Empire, probably in the time of Hadrian and possibly on his orders. It is one of the largest Roman structures still surviving in the ancient Greek world. Although the building itself is of an immense size, it was once part of a much larger sacred complex.

The Asklepion is located three kilometers south of the Acropolis, down in the valley, and was the Sanctuary of Asklēpiós, the God of healing. There was a sacred spring where the ill came to wash, and a large hall where they would sleep so Asklēpiós could appear to them in dreams and provide aid.

The aim of the 3D project is to present Pergamon to the world. Bergama mayor Mehmet Gönenç said that "...through this project the mystery and the magic of the ancient city would be revealed and would also be transposed to the present day". With this project, people would have the opportunity to learn about the area, he added.

Gönenç and the Bergama Chamber of Commerce held a press conference at Tonozlu Hall and said Bergama was a very important area of heritage for the world and for Turkey, which was why the project had been launched, as well as to contribute to the cultural values of the society.

No word yet on when the project will be completed.

Last year, I got a chance to visit the Pergamon Altar to Zeus and Athena, now in Berlin. It was a double experience for me; on the one hand, it is a striking marvel of architecture and seeing it made my heart swell with pride for the Theoi and the ancient Hellenes, on the other hand, seeing these stones so far from their original construction site was infuriating, and having to view them as a tourist attraction even more so. That said, I greatly enjoy the virtual tour of the Acropolis in Athens, so if the tour will be anything like that, I am sure I can get behind this project. Are you excited to have digital access to these treasures?

Image source: Wikipedia commons.