In 336 BCE, Alexander was the new ruler of Macedon as he was very popular. He immediately went to work, raising a force large enough to go up against the Persians, gathering a navy large enough to counter any threats by their powerful navy. Landing on the shores of Anatolia near Sestos on the Gallipoli in 334 BCE,. Than Alexander turned his attention to the rest of the western coast, liberating Lydia and Ionia in quick succession from the Persian.
Hellenistic Period covers from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE, to the death of Cleopatra and annexation of Egypt by the Romans in 30 BCE. It was the age of many Kings who were former generals of Alexander. Kings constantly fought with each other for territory, wealth and glory. Many kings died at the battlefields fighting against their rivals. These frequent wars came to weaken the Hellenistic kingdoms, and they were all absorbed by first Parthian kings and later by the Romans in the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE.
During the period of the Persian occupation, the previously destroyed Didyma Temple was planned to be rebuilt but never completed and remains in the same condition today. There were several temples of which construction and repair work had continued, such as the Magnesia Artemis Temple in Alabanda, which was constructed by Hermogenes and the Artemis Temple in Ephesus, which was slated to be rebuilt with Alexander’s assistance.
The most wonderful work of art of the Hellenic Period is the Pergamum Zeus Altar, which was constructed in 180 B.C. to immortalize Eumenes II, who scored a great victory over the Galatians. This grand altar emphasized the antique age of this period’s art of sculpture. In this temple, which was dedicated to the major deity Zeus and his daughter Athena, we may see the struggle between the Gigants and Gods that was etched upon the friezes. The intense feelings such as joy, pain and anxiety that are seen on the faces in the friezes convey a Baroque concept. The exceedingly sharp movements of the bodies causing the flow of hair and the helter-skelter of loosely fit clothing brings about a play of the shadows and exaggerated body muscles that all reflect the characteristics of the period’s defined sculpture. Unfortunately, it is a pity that this unique work of art of the Hellenic Period is not found in its original place, but sitting in the Berlin Museum.
In addition to temples, theaters were also constructed in this period. The Bergama Theater, which was the steepest theater of the ancient world.
Another of the most important developments of the Hellenic Period was sculpture. The statues of this period show that realism was the dominant theme as opposed to the prominence of idealism of the Classic Period. For this reason, instead of god sculptures of the Classic Period, statues of men and women began to be made. At the beginning of the Hellenic Period, the Lysippos style was the most prominent. In the Hellenic Period, apart from the first school of sculpture, located in Pergamum, another sculpture center was established in Tralleis, Aydin. Today, as we walk through the ruins of ancient cities, we can see the Hellenic temples, theaters and other monuments standing right next to these made in Rome.
KEY SITES: Today, as we walk through the ruins of ancient cities almost all over Turkey, we can see the Hellenic temples, theaters, bridges and other monuments standing along. But as the key sites, we have to mention Pergamon, Ephesus, Tralleis, Aphrodisias, Hierapolis at first sight.
MUSEUMS: Istanbul Archeological Museum, Izmir Museums and all sites mentioned above display the bright remnants of this period.