Mt Nemrut; At the junction of the East and West civilisations, Nemrut Dagi (Mount Nemrut) is one of the most astounding sites in Turkey: A collection of colossal statues on a remote mountain 2150m high, adorning the temple and tomb of King Antiochus.
Nemrut Dağı has since been a significant attraction, with thousands sunrise and sunset visitors to see the stones in the best possible light. It has been designated a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO, and is one of the most important National Parks in the country. In addition to the statues, the entire site includes art from the Commagene civilisation, the Eskikale (Old Castle), Yenikale (New Castle), Karakus Hill and Cendere Bridge. Most people use the nearby towns of Malatya, Kahta or Adiyaman as a base, and the road to the summit is only open from mid-April to mid-October because of heavy snow the rest of the year.
The region that lies between the Taurus Mountains and the
Euphrates was called Commagene during the Greek and Roman periods.
Commagene was established originally as an independent kingdom in 162 BC by
Mithridates Kalinikos. I. Mithridates brought together Persians and Macedonians
and other communities in the area to form this powerful state and named it
Commagene, which means"community of genes" in Greek. The kingdom
was at the height of its splendor during the period of King Antiochos I
(69-36 B.C.), who succeeded Mithridates. Most of the archeological remains
which survive to our times, including the tumulus at the peak of Nemrut
Dag, which still refuses to reveal all its secrets, are from the time of
At the cone shape summit of this 2,200m elevated mountain one can find statues mythical figures of Apollon, Zeus, Hercules and others. These gigantic heads fallen from the tomb of the obscure Commagene king Antiochus, stare at you silenty for more than 2000 years and were first found in 1881 by Karl Sester, a German archeologist. They are carved around 63 B.C during the reign of Antiochus-I, the emperor of the Commagene King. Here you can wonder around the cone shape, a man made summit, whereAntiochus' tumulus was located which were hidden under the man made limestone dome.
In 1987, Nemrut mountain became a member of UNESCO World Heritage list. It is also a National park.
Anatolia is having treasures, and Nemrut Mountain is having the chest full of mystery, if you want to discover the enigma of Commagene Kingdom join our Nemrut Tour and get there with a very informative guide!
The mountain lies
The pattern of damage to the heads (notably to noses) suggests that they were deliberately damaged because of belief in iconoclasm. The statues have not been restored to their original positions. The site also preserves stone slabs with bas-relief figures that are thought to have formed a large frieze. These slabs display the ancestors of Antiochus, who included both Greek and Persians.
The same statues and ancestors found throughout the site can
also be found on the tumulus at the site, which is
The western terrace contains a large slab with a lion, showing the arrangement of stars and the planets Jupiter, Mercury and Mars on 7 July 62 BC. This may be an indication of when construction began on this monument. The eastern portion is well preserved, being composed of several layers of rock, and a path following the base of the mountain is evidence of a walled passageway linking the eastern and western terraces. Possible uses for this site is thought to have included religious ceremonies, due to the astronomical and religious nature of the monument.
The arrangement of such statues is known by the term hierothesion. Similar arrangements have been found at Arsameia on Nymphaios at the hierothesion of the father of Antiochus, Mithridates I Callinicus.
When the Seleucid Empire was defeated by the Romans in 189 BCE at the Battle of Magnesia it began to fall apart and new kingdoms were established on its territory by local authorities. Commagene being one of the Seleucid successor states occupied a land in between the Taurus mountains and the Euphrates. The state of Commagene had a wide range of cultures which left its leader from 62 BC - 38 BC Antiochus I to carry on a peculiar dynastic religious program, in which it included not only Greek and Persian deities but Antiochus and his family as well. This religious program was very possibly an attempt of Antiochus to unify his multiethnic kingdom and secure his dynasty's authority.
Antiochus supported the cult as a propagator of happiness and salvation. Many of the monuments on Mount Nemrud are ruins of the imperial cult of Commagene. The most important area to the cult was the tomb of Antiochus I, in which was decorated with colossal statues made of limestone. Although the Imperial cult did not last long after Antiochus, several of his successors had their own tombs built on Mount Nemrud. For around half of the year, Mount Nemrud lays covered in snow which in effect has increased its weathering which has in part caused the statues to fall in ruin.
The site was excavated in 1881 by Charles Sester, a German engineer assessing transport routes for the Ottomans. Subsequent excavations have failed to reveal the tomb of Antiochus. This is nevertheless still believed to be the site of his burial. The statues, all of them "beheaded", have not been restored to their original condition.