the mount ”nemrut”
commagene kıngdom monuments on the heıghts
Asia Minor in The early 1st Century AD
Mount Nemrut or Nemrud is a 2,134-metre-high (7,001 ft) mountain in southeastern Turkey, notable for the summit where a number of large statues are erected around what is assumed to be a royal tomb belonging to Commagene Kingdom from the 1st century BC. It is one of the highest peaks in the east of the Taurus Mountains.
It was also added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
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 its pantheon, and the lineage of its kings, which can be traced back through two sets of legends, Greek and Persian, is evidence of the dual origin of this kingdom’s culture.
Commagene was an ancient Greco-Iranian kingdom ruled by a Hellenized branch of the Iranian Orontid dynasty that had ruled over Armenia. The kingdom was located in and around the ancient city of Samosata, which served as its capital. The Iron Age name of Samosata, Kummuh, probably gives its name to Commagene.
Commagene has been characterized as a “buffer state” between Armenia, Parthia, Syria, and Rome; culturally, it was correspondingly mixed. The kings of the Kingdom of Commagene claimed descent from Orontes with Darius I of Persia as their ancestor, by his marriage to Rhodogune, daughter of Artaxerxes II who had a family descent from king Darius I. The territory of Commagene corresponded roughly to the modern Turkish provinces of Adıyaman and northern Antep
Antiochus I of Commagene, shaking hands with Herakles.
Little is known of the region of Commagene prior to the beginning of the 2nd century BC. However, it seems that, from what little evidence remains, Commagene formed part of a larger state that also included the Kingdom of Sophene. This situation lasted until c. 163 BC, when the local satrap, Ptolemaeus of Commagene, established himself as an independent ruler following the death of the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
The Kingdom of Commagene maintained its independence until 17 AD, when it was made a Roman province by Emperor Tiberius. It re-emerged as an independent kingdom when Antiochus IV of Commagene was reinstated to the throne by order of Caligula, then deprived of it by that same emperor, then restored to it a couple of years later by his successor, Claudius. The re-emergent state lasted until 72 AD, when the Emperor Vespasian finally and definitively made it part of the Roman Empire.
One of the kingdom’s most lasting visible remains is the archaeological site on Mount Nemrut, a sanctuary dedicated by King Antiochus Theos to a number of syncretistic Graeco-Iranian deities as well as to himself and the deified land of Commagene.
The mountain lies 40 km (25 mi) north of Kahta, near Adıyaman. In 62 BC, King Antiochus I Theos of Commagene built on the mountain top a tomb-sanctuary flanked by huge statues 8–9-metre high (26–30 ft) of himself, two lions, two eagles, and various composite Greek and Iranian gods, such as Heracles-Artagnes-Ares, Zeus-Oromasdes, and Apollo-Mithras-Helios-Hermes.
When constructing this pantheon, Antiochus drew heavily from Parthian and Armenian traditions in order to reinvigorate the religion of his ancestral dynasty. The statues were once seated, with names of each god inscribed on them. At some point the heads of the statues were removed from their bodies, and they are now scattered throughout the site.
The pattern of damage to the heads (notably to noses) suggests that they were deliberately damaged as a result of iconoclasm. The statues have not been restored to their original places. The site also preserves stone slabs with bas-relief figures that are thought to have formed a large frieze. These slabs, or stelae, depict Antiochus’ Greek and Persian ancestors.
The same statues and ancestors found throughout the site can also be found on the tumulus at the site, which is 49 metres (161 ft) tall and 152 m (499 ft) in diameter. It is possible that the tumulus of loose rock was devised to protect a tomb from robbers, since any excavation would quickly fill in. The statues appear to have Greek-style faces, but Persian clothing and hair-styling.
The western terrace contains a large slab with a lion, showing an arrangement of stars and the planets Jupiter, Mercury, and Mars. The composition was taken to be a chart of the sky on 7 July 62 BCE. 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 are thought to have included religious ceremonies, owing 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 Antiochus’ father, Mithridates I Callinicus.