Certainly a striking city in its day, Perga (also spelled Perge) today still is an impressive place to visit. Its theater, stadium, agora, towers, baths, and colonnaded streets give the visitor a good sense of what an ancient city was like. Perga is located in the ancient region of Pamphylia, approximately 9 miles east of Antalya. To visit the site, take highway 400 east from Antalya to the town of Aksu, in which there is a yellow sign on the left that points to Perga, which is a little more than a mile north of Aksu. The Aksu Çayï (the ancient Cestrus River) comes within 3 miles of the site on its way to the Mediterranean, approximately 7 miles away. In ancient times Perga apparently had a port on the river, which was navigable, thus allowing the city to benefit commercially from the river. Ancient tradition claims that Perga was founded after the Trojan War by Greek settlers under the leadership of Calchas (a seer whose prophecies helped the Greeks in the war) and Mopsus (another ancient seer). The acropolis at Perga, however, was inhabited much earlier than this, even during the Bronze Age. When Alexander the Great came through the area in 333 B.C.E., the city of Perga offered no resistance to him. Some of the people from Perga even served as guides to lead a part of Alexander’s army from Phaselis into Pamphylia. After Alexander’s death, the city was controlled by the Ptolemies and then by the Seleucid rulers. One of the most famous natives of Perga during the Hellenistic period was Apollonius, a 3rd-century-B.C.E. mathematician who wrote a ninevolume work on conics. His works were important contributions to astronomy and geometry. He studied in Alexandria and later lived in Pergamum. After the defeat of the Seleucids by the Romans in 189 B.C.E. at the battle of Magnesia, Perga became a part of the Pergamene kingdom. Bequeathed to Rome in 133 B.C.E. by the last Pergamene king, Attalus III, the city came under Roman control four years later, as a part of the Roman province of Asia Minor.
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