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Nemrut Dagi

Listed under Archaeological Sites in Turkey.

  • Photo of Nemrut Dagi
  • Photo of Nemrut Dagi
Photo of Nemrut Dagi
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Situated at 2150 meters in the mountains of south central Turkey stands the archaeological site of Nemrut Dagi. The unique mountain top shrine, previously known only to local herders, was discovered in 1881 by a geologist working for the Ottoman government. Assumed to be the burial site of Antiochus, a king of the 1st century BC Commagene dynasty, the peak of Nemrut Dagi has been extensively contoured, capped with a conical mound, and ornamented with two temples and many beautiful stone sculptures. The conical mound rises 50 meters above the temples, is 150 meters in diameter and is composed of countless thousands of fist-sized pieces of white limestone. Archaeologists excavating in 1953 tunneled into the cone of rocks but found no burial remains nor gained insights concerning the construction methods or use of the high altitude temples.

The mound is bounded on the east, west and north by terraces, each carved from the mountain rock. The eastern and western terraces contain altars, the remains of walls, and stone statues 8 – 10 meters tall. The statues depict various deities and there are also carvings of Antiochus shaking hands with Zeus, Apollo and Herakles. The heads of all the statues have fallen to the ground, probably the result of earthquakes which frequently disturb the region. Among the carved stones on the western terrace, one known as the ‘Lion of Commagene’ bears significant astronomical information. Nineteen stars may be seen in the background and on the lion’s body; a crescent moon is shown on the lion’s neck. Above the lion’s back are three planets named as Mars, Mercury and Jupiter. These carvings, interpreted by archaeoastronomers, seem to indicate the date of July 6 in 61 BC. Some scholars believe this to be the date when Antiochus was installed on the throne by the Roman general Pompey while others see it as an esoteric coronation of Antiochus as head of secret Persian/Anatolian brotherhood. The purpose of the strange mound and its enigmatic carvings remains a mystery.

More on Nemrut Dagi from Sacred Sites.

Written by  Martin Gray.

Other expert and press reviews

“Nemrut Dağ”

'The mausoleum of Antiochus I (69–34 B.C.), who reigned over Commagene, a kingdom founded north of Syria and the Euphrates after the breakup of Alexander's empire, is one of the most ambitious constructions of the Hellenistic period. The syncretism of i… Read more...

Written by press. UNESCO

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