Ancient statues near the peak of Mount Nemrut, Turkey

549ea6533fc02101084800ba232bcbbbAncient statues near the peak of Mount Nemrut, Turkey see South Eastern Turkey Pictures

Known officially as the Hierothesion of Mount Nemrut (meaning a ‘temple-tomb and house of the gods’), this archeological site may be one of the world’s most surreal landscapes. Dozens of gigantic ancient stone statues, altars, and plinths, built in the late Hellenistic period for King Antiochos I of Commagene, are strewn across a mountaintop in southeastern Turkey. Lending the scene an extra helping of mystery is the condition of many of the sculptures: Bodies of gods, men, and beasts stand tall while their heads have long ago fallen off and lay scattered below. The site is near the East Anatolian Fault zone, and some researchers have speculated that earthquakes long ago caused the tops of the statues to topple.

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 Greek, Armenian, and Medes gods, such as ZeusAramazd or Oromasdes (associated with Zoroastrian god Ahura Mazda), HerculesVahagn, Tyche-Bakht, and ApolloMihrMithras. These statues were once seated, with names of each god inscribed on them. The heads of the statues have at some stage been 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 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 Armenians, Greeks and Persians.

The same statues and ancestors found throughout the site can also be found on the tumulus at the site, which is 49-metre-tall (161 ft) and 152 m (499 ft) in diameter. It is possible that the tumulus was built to protect a tomb from tomb-robbers since any excavation would quickly fill with loose rock.[2] The statues appear to have Greek-style facial features, but Armenian clothing and hair-styling.

The Lion with the Stars

The Lion with the Stars

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 BC.[3] 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 the father of Antiochus, Mithridates I Callinicus.


    1. Image Turkey Cultural Tour. 2018. . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.turkeyculturaltour.com. [Accessed 14 October 2018].
    2. Image By Unknown photographer – [1] aus Carl Humann, Otto Puchstein: Reisen in Kleinasien und Nordsyrien, 1890, Public Domain, Link