Wolfgang Kaehler/Corbis

“Where the throne of Satan is … ” The Great Altar of Pergamon now sits in Berlin’s State Museum, where it has been reconstructed incorporating original elements recovered in a 19th-century German excavation. Originally built in the first half of the second century B.C.E. in the western Asia Minor city of Pergamon, the altar was surrounded by a monumental frieze depicting mythical battles between the Greek gods and the Giants, a monstrous-looking race said to be descendants of Earth and Heaven.

In the New Testament Book of Revelation, a prophet named John conveys a message from the risen Christ to seven congregations in Asia Minor. The message to the faithful in Pergamon declares: “I know where you dwell, where the throne of Satan is, and you hold fast to my name and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas, my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.” Our author Adela Yarbro Collins explains that Revelation refers to a specific structure when it speaks of Satan’s throne—Pergamon’s Great Altar.