Nemrut Dağ

Nemrut Dağ is located in South-east Turkey. Sitting atop one of the uppermost summits of the Taurus mountains, it is the Hierotheseion (temple-tomb and house of the gods) constructed by the Hellenistic King Antiochos I of Commagene (69-34 B.C.) as a shrine to himself.

Nemrut Dağ
Photo Credit: nemrutguide.com

The name is a somewhat contemporary one, dating back to the Middle Ages.

In Armenian legend, Hayk vanquished and entombed the Biblical king Nimrod in these mountains. Nemrut is most likely to have took its name from an Armenian legend in which Nimrod was slain by an arrow shot by Hayk during battle.

On the mountain top you will find statues of King Antiochos himself, flanked by two lions, two eagles and several Greek, Armenian, and Medes gods, such as Zeus, Hercules and Apollo.

At some point the heads of the statues have been detached from their bodies and are now spread throughout the site. The pattern of destruction suggests that they were intentionally.

The site also holds stone slabs with bas-relief illustrations, thought to have shaped a large frieze, and display the ancestors of Antiochus.

Nemrut Dağ - Heads of Statues
Photo Credit: whc.unesco.org

More statues can be found on a nearby tumulus, thought to protect a tomb from grave robbers. The western face has a large slab depicting a lion and an arrangement of stars and planets.

The site was unearthed in 1881 by Karl Sester, a German engineer evaluating transport roads for the Ottomans.

In 1987, Mount Nemrut was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Nemrut Dağ is an exceptional example of artistic creation from the Hellenistic period, fascinatingly beautiful in the most spectacular of settings and has survived environmental conditions relatively well. The original ceremonial routes to the Hierotheseion still exist and used for access today.

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