NEMRUD DAGI


The famous statues of gods, goddesses and also the kings as well as the tumulus of 1.Antiochos Epiphanes, the king of Kommagene, are situated on Nemrud dagi (Nemrud mountain) which is located next to Kahta village of Adiyaman, a southeastern province of Turkey. The region in eastern Anatolia between Taurus mountains and Euphrates river was called Kommagene during the Hellenistic and Roman times. Beyond the sacred site on Nemrud dagi there were some settlements of the kingdom of Kommagene such as the cities of Samosata, Perre, Doliche and Germanikeia Kaisareia. The same region was called Kumuhu in Assurian documents which was mentioned as the land belonging to the late Hittite kingdom.

The Kommagene kingdom was founded by 1.Mithradates Kallinikos in the 1st century B.C. The kingdom became a strong political entity during the reign of 1.Antiochos Epiphanes (62-32 B.C.) who was the son of 1.Mithradates. The kingdom lasted until 72 A.D. when Syria was conquered by Roman Empire Vespasian and became an eastern province of Rome.

Nemrud dagi is a 2150 metres high mountain next to Ankar mountains.The tumulus which is made up of small size stones is a 50 metres high and 150 metres wide pile. This tumulus is surrounded on three sides by a courtyard carved into the rock formation on the mountain. The eastern courtyard holds the most important examples of monumental architecture and sculpture. The 8 to 10 metres high god and king head statues are located to the west of this courtyard. The eastern corner of the courtyard is covered by a pyramid shaped altar of fire. On the southern side of this important courtyard there are stone blocks forming a kind of wall. There are reliefs representing the Persian ancestors of 1.Antiochos, the king of Kommagene, on these stone blocks. On the other side of these stones you will see the reliefs representing his Macedonian ancestors.

The fumigation altars belonging to each of these reliefs are still intact. The names of his ancestors were carved onto the stone below these reliefs.

The king of Kommagene 1.Antiochos claims that his father Mithradates was a descendant of Persian king 1.Dareios (522-486 B.C.) and his mother Laodike was a descendant of Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.).

The 8 to 10 metres high statues on the east side of this courtyard are exactly similar to the ones at Yesemek which is 50 kms southeast of Gaziantep, a southeastern province of Turkey.

His dual cultural identity has made him to bring both Persian and Hellenistic gods and goddesses together in front of his tumulus. The writings carved onto the walls of eastern courtyard define the statues as; Apollon, Mithra, Helios, Hermes, Tyche, Zeus, Oromasdes, Herakles, Artognes, Ares and finally king Antiochos himself. All statues have atractive faces idealised in late Hellenistic style.

The foundation walls facing the courtyard has writings about the law and commands of the country as well as some scripts indicating the birthday of the king and the details of the official worshipping ceremony.

There are some reliefs on the walls indicating the king handshaking with each god separately. There are also statues of lions, alongside the statues of gods, representing the protective power of gods.

The lion reliefs on the western courtyard carries some astronomical symbols indicating 19 stars on the background and on the body of the lions. There is also a crescent and three planets figure on the same axis indicating a specific astronomical event which happened in 62 or 61 B.C. 7th of July when Jupiter, Mercury and Mars came onto the same axis when observed from the Earth in this date. This was the date when Antiochos was brought to crown by the Roman general Pompeius.

The tumulus on the peak of the Nemrud mountain is thought to be housing either bones or ashes of king 1.Antiochos of Kommagene. It has not been opened yet.


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