skip to content

Museum of Classical Archaeology Databases

Great Altar of Zeus at Pergamon, Giant

Giant opponent of Hekate, from the east side of the Large Frieze.

The Altar, high on a mountainside, was a huge staple-shaped colonnaded structure on a large stepped podium. It was decorated with a frieze 113 metres long depicting the favourite subject of the battles of Gods and Giants, which was no doubt intended by the Pergamene king Eumenes II, who built it, to commemorate his triumphs in Asia Minor and the eastern Aegean. It was seriously damaged in the first century CE, and again in the tenth.

The verve of the figures and composition, and the sheer size, make the frieze one of the landmarks of Hellenistic art. The reliefs are so deep as to be almost freestanding. Today, the sculptures that remain are incorporated into a reconstruction of the altar in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin

Number: 
385b
Material: 
Marble
Location of Original: 

Berlin, Pergamon Museum

Size: 
1.20m
Accession: 

Purchased in 1884 from Brucciani of London

References: 

Lippold: Griechische Plastik, 354-, pl. 128
Richter: Sculpture & Sculptors of the Greeks (1950), ?
Winnefeld: Altertümer von Pergamon III.2, 38, pl. VIII
Kähler: Der Grosse Fries von Pergamon, pl. 24 & 54
Reporter: 19 June 1885, 894, no.474
Pollitt: Art in the Hellenistic Age, 97, pls. 97-109
Webb: Hellenistic Architectural Sculpture (1996), 61

Date: 
Early C2 BCE
Provenance: 

Found on site

Search Casts

Use our search tools to search the Casts Archive

Museum of Classical Archaeology, Cambridge

Every cast tells two stories.
One ancient. One modern.

Admission is free.

Opening hours

Mon-Fri: 10am-5pm
Sat: 10am-1pm (Univ. term-time only)
Sun: Closed

Visit us

Museum of Classical Archaeology
Faculty of Classics
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge
CB3 9DA

Get in touch

Tel. +44 (0)1223 330402
Email

Facebook Twitter