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. 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.
Romans gave a lot of importance to Anatolia. 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. Magnificent theaters like Aspendos were being constructed, theaters such as Ephesus, Hierapolis and Miletos were repaired and utilized additional sections. 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, Perge and others.
Another typical Roman structure was the Triumphal Arch of which there are many examples of these in Anatolia; Arykanda, Attaleia/Antalya, Phaselis, Patara, Ephesus etc… 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.
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 Ephesus.
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 in Ephesus and Faustina Bath in Miletus 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.
In addition to the previously constructed temples that were repaired and used, new temples such as the Augustus 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 Turkey’s 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 individual’s 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.
The rule of Rome in Anatolia was unlike any other part of their empire because of their light hand with regards to government and organization. Controlling unstable elements within the region was made simpler by the bequeathal of Pergamon to the Romans by its last king, Attalus III in 133 BCE. The new territory was named the province of Asia by Roman consul Aquillius Manius the Elder.
KEY SITES: Pergamum, Ephesus, Hierapolis, Miletus, Aphrodisias, Side, Aspendos, Phaselis, The Agora in the city of Izmir, Augustus Temple in Ankara, the Zeus Temple in Aizanoi..