Joy of Museums

Exploring Museums, Art & Historic Sites

The Market Gate of Miletus

Market Gate of Miletus in the Pergamon Museum

The Market Gate of Miletus

The Market Gate of Miletus is a large marble monument from the 2nd century AD from the city of Miletus which was an ancient Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia. Prior to the Persian invasion in the middle of the 6th century BC, Miletus was considered one of the greatest and wealthiest of Greek cities. Miletus was located close to the other important ancient towns of Ephesus, Sardis and Smyrna and it’s ruins located near the modern village of Balat in Turkey.

Map of Lydia ancient times-en

Ancient borders of Lydia during the middle 6th century

Miletus’ wealth and splendour were reached a high during the Hellenistic era (323–30 BC) and again later during the Roman Empire. The gate was erected during the reign of Emperor Hadrian in about 120 AD. The Market Gate of Miletus acted as a gateway between two large centres in the town. The Agora outside the walls and the market in the middle of the prosperous trade city.

The two-story gate was later incorporated into the expanded city wall, under Byzantine Emperor Justinian the Great. In an earthquake-prone area, the city of Miletus was destroyed in an earthquake in the 10th or 11th century. The gate incorporated sculptures such the emperor in military armour with a barbarian female at his feet. The other significant statue recovered is a nude hero figure holding the horn of plenty. Both of these sculptures were shattered and were reconstructed from fragments.

Statue of an emperor or hero from the Market Gate of Miletus, early 2nd century AD (reign of Hadrian 120-130 AD), Pergamon Museum Berlin (8404261155)

Nude hero figure holding the horn of plenty

The Market Gate of Miletus were excavated in the early 1900s, from their original site and the first reconstruction of the gate took place in 1928 – 1929 to become a significant feature at the new Pergamon Museum, which opened in 1930. Only fragments had survived from the original and reconstruction involved the introduction of substantial new material to assemble a holistic architectural monument. Today about 60% original stonework is from Miletus. The gate was again damaged in World War II and underwent restoration in the 1954 and a further series of restorations more recently.

Detail of the Market Gate of Miletus, Pergamon Museum Berlin (8405352160)

Reflections

  • Do these extensive restorations transport you back in time?
  • What portions of the gate were Greek influence and what was the Roman influence?
  • What religions were practised in the city of Miletus?

The Market Gate of Miletus

  • Name:                         The Market Gate of Miletus
  • Material:                    Marble
  • Created                      2nd century AD
  • Period/culture:        Roman
  • Original Location:  Miletus
  • Material:                   Marble
  • Dimensions:             W: 98 feet (30m), H: 52 feet (16m), D: 16 feet (5m)
  • Museum:                 Pergamon Museum

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“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” Aldous Huxley

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Photo Credit: 1) By Rafael Rodrigues Camargo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons 2) By Original: User:RokeSVG: User:NektoEnglish: User:WillemBK [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons 3) By Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons 3) By Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons