History | October 5, 2021 6:00 am

Recent Archaeological Find Proves VIP Seating Has a Long History

Historically good seats in western Turkey

A drone photo shows a view of excavation works in Pergamon Ancient City in Bergama district of Izmir, Turkey
A drone photo shows a view of excavation work in Pergamon in the Bergama district of Izmir, Turkey.
Emin Menguarslan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

If your favorite musician is in town, you might well have the option to splurge when buying concert tickets. Maybe you’ll opt for some sort of VIP package, complete with meet-and-greet or exclusive seating. You might think that this is a relatively recent phenomenon, brought on by changes in the live music industry. But a recent archaeological find in Turkey suggests that it might be more a case of history repeating itself.

Ancient history, in this case.

If you’re watching an event from VIP seats, it turns out you might be continuing an age-old tradition. A new report from Laura Geggel at Live Science offers a glimpse into an archaeological dig in Pergamon, a city situated in what is now Turkey. Pergamon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the agency hailing its “remains of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires.”

It’s the first of these that comes to mind based on these findings. Archaeologists uncovered the remains of an arena dating back 1,800 years there, along with some seats, several of which had names carved into them. The article cites Felix Pirson of the German Archaeological Institute, who believes that the seats belonged to prominent families in the area.

An article at Smithsonian Magazine offers more details on the seats and the building that contained them, including the fact that the arena likely held between 25,000 and 50,000 people, and was designed to replicate the Roman Colosseum. Archaeologists are less certain if the VIP seats also involved meet-and-greets with prominent gladiators, however.