Sacred Snakes of Pergamum

Last Updated on April 25, 2019

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Sacred Snakes of Pergamum (Bergama, Turkey)

Symbols Old & New

In ancient times, serpents were revered as symbols of renewal: they shed their skins each year, beginning anew.

On this marble pillar at Bergama (Pergamum) we see three health symbols: snakes, olive branches, and the wheel of life.

Asclepius, son of Apollo, was taught medicine by the centaur Chiron. According to myth, he even learned how to bring the dead back to life using Gorgon’s blood. No wonder Asclepius’s symbol was two serpents entwined around a staff: the caduceus (or kerykeion). It’s still the symbol of medicine even in our times.

As with so many other aspects of our modern culture: it all started here, in the ancient Aegean world, especially in Aegean Turkey.

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