The Pilgrimage: Turkey, Part Eight

The god Asklepius was in many ways one of the most important of all Greco-Roman deities, and this was true all over the Mediterranean world. Health and healing in a world full of disease and death, before modern medicine, was an urgent matter. The symbol of the god Asklepius you will be familiar with– it is the snake curled around the staff which we still see today on the AMA logo, among other places. Notice for example how Galen, one of the early famous doctors, who came from Pergamon is represented here.

Here is part of the restored via sacra leading to the places of healing, the theater, and other parts of the complex known as the Asklepion.

Here is a nice schematic explaining the building complex.

There has been a good deal of restoration work here, so that one can begin to get a visual image of how impressive this complex once was.


And of course where would they be without imperial patrons, in this case Trajan, who must be honored for coming and building things here.

Here is a helpful sign (with imperfect English) about the healing methods here— incubation (i.e. sleep overs), hot mineral baths, use of the sacred springs in the sacred groves, underground passages and water rituals etc.

There is much we do not know about all these secret rituals and procedures. Some of them must have helped some, as patrons left votive offerings thanking the god for healing.

So, before you start going down the road to the sacred grove, you need to ask yourself— where does healing really come from, how does it happen?


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