Pessinus (Ballihisar)

Pessinus: town in ancient Phrygia, famous for the cult of Cybele; modern Ballihisar.

Pessinus, sanctuaryPessinus was situated along the ancient Royal road that connected Sardes with the capitals of Persia, Susa and Persepolis. It was famous for its shrine of the goddess Matar or Cybele, the Phrygian Mother of the Gods who was also venerated by the Greeks and Romans.

The temple of Cybele at Pessinus was discovered by Belgian archaeologists in 1967. It is surprisingly small (the cella measures only 8 x 8 meter). Next to the sanctuary was a theater, which also served as the stairs leading to the temple. This combination is pretty unique in the ancient world - I can not remember having seen anything similar.

Pessinus, theaterThe Great Mother of the Gods was also represented sitting on a chariot drawn by lions. According to legend (more...), she had fallen from the sky as a stone (a baetyl), and the name Pessinus may indeed mean something like "castle where the fall has taken place". In 204, the meteorite was given to the Romans - who had requested this - by the Pergamene king Attalus I Soter, and a new temple was built right in the center of Rome, on the Palatine. By then, this part of Anatolia had already been conquered by the Tolistobogii, one of the three Galatian tribes that invaded Asia Minor in the 270s. Pessinus became their capital.


This page was created in 2008; last modified on 25 July 2015.