During the Hellenic
Period, when the Pergamum King Attalos II
turned over his territory to the Romans in 133 B.C., Rome gained control over Anatolia. In
addition to the immense territory around the Mediterranean that they governed, the Romans
had also established rich city states in regions such as Egypt, the Palestine, Syria and
Anatolia. Together with the Roman state concept came social, economic and political
conditions, which all gained large dimensions for art. As for the fact that Eastern
Mediterranean cities becoming Roman states, they blended in with previously existing local
sculptural and architectural traditions for balanced richness. Amongst the large statues
that decorated the monumental buildings were figures of gods, loved, powerful leaders and
From the standpoint of trying to gain control of the other states, the Romans gave a
lot of importance to Anatolia. The Roman Empire was made up of free cities. For this
reason, as many Anatolian cities informed Rome of their loyalty and friendship, the Roman
Emperors would pay visits to these cities. It was for this reason that Roman Emperors were
perhaps better known in Anatolia than back in Rome. During this period, large buildings
were being built in Anatolian cities, not on hills as they used to be, but in places
supported with rows of arches. In the Roman period, many of the theaters were also built
in the same fashion. The two-storied walls forming the theater stage were a characteristic
of Roman architecture. In the Hellenic Period, the orchestra pit
was shaped like a horseshoe, whereas it was transformed into a semi-circle in the Roman
period. While magnificent theaters like Aspendos were being
constructed, theaters such as Pergamum, Ephesus and Priene were repaired and utilized
additional sections. After 80 B.C., once the Romans had discovered central heating by
passing hot air under the floor and through holes in the brick walls, they constructed
large thermal facilities. Today, the magnificent Roman baths that can be found in all of
the ancient cities were important from the point of their once serving as sports schools.
The Vedius Gymnasium and Miletus Faustina Bath in Ephesus and the baths now used as
museums in Side and Hierapolis are the best examples. In addition,
the mosaics decorating the floors of the baths also reflected the Roman art of painting.
Aqueducts were also a Roman invention.
The best examples of these architectural structures that once carried water into town
from distant places can be seen in Side, Aspendos, Phaselis and
Ephesos. Another typical Roman structure was the Triumphal Arch of which there are few
examples of these in Anatolia. However, magnificently constructed city entrance gates are
quite common throughout Anatolia. In the Roman Age, the sides of libraries the walls of
stage entrances and especially monumental fountains were ornately carved and decorated
with statues. Constructing roads with columns to protect people from the sun and rain was
another Roman discovery. Examples of these may be seen in the ancient cities of Ephesus,
Miletus, Side and others. In addition to the previously constructed temples that were
repaired and used, new temples such as the Augustos Temple in Ankara, the Zeus Temple in
Aizanoi and the Apollo Temple in Side were all newly constructed.
Today, it is possible to view these temples and theaters in our ancient cities. The
portrait art form was popular as a way of immortalizing historic Roman personages. Instead
of the idealistic lines of the old period, the art of Roman portrait making reflected an
individuals characteristic appearances.
Not only were portraits made for the emperor and his family, but for those respected in
society, clerks and thinkers. Ephesus, Miletus, Pergamon and Aphrodisias were all
important Anatolian sculpture centers in the Roman period. In particular, masterpieces
that were made from the white and blue-grey marble quarried from Mt. Babadag near
Aphrodisias were so fabulous that they were shipped to Greece and Italy.
Above text and pictures are from the book titled "Ancient Civilizations and Treasures of Turkey".
You can purchase "Ancient Civilizations and Treasures of Turkey" book and other Turkey related books from Explore Turkey Bookstore.