Mount Nemrut is at an altitude of 2,150 m (7,053 ft) from the sea level, and the tumulus which includes the tomb of the King of Commagene, Antiochos Epiphanes the I. is there. Mithradates the I., father of Antiochos to whom the tumulus belongs, took advantage of defenselessness of the Seleukos who ruled in Syria after Alexander’s death, and founded the independent kingdom of Commagene in the year 80 B.C. Mithradates the I. was succeeded by his son Antiochos the I. (62-32 B.C.) who brought great fame to his country. The King who pointed out in his inscriptions that his maternal lineage had been traced back to Alexander the Great, and his paternal lineage to the Persians, joined the two cultures for this reason. Mithradates the II. was enthroned after him, and he was succeeded by Antiochos the III, during whose reign the country became powerful. After his death, Vespasianus united Commagene to the province of Syria (72 A.D.)

The tumulus is at a distance of 65 km (40 miles) to the township of Kahta in Adiyaman; the tomb is placed in the middle of the tumulus and is covered by a small hill which has a height and diameter of 50 m (164 ft) and 150 m (492 ft) respectively and made of small pieces of stones. Terraces are built on the four sides of the tumulus. There is an altar in the eastern terrace and there are also statues arranged in a line, with their backs turned to the tumulus. The heads of the statues have rolled down to the terrace in front, but the bodies still stand erect.

As you approach, the first thing you see is the western temple with the conical funerary mound of fist-sized stones behind it. At the western temple, Antiochus and his fellow gods sit in state, although their bodies have partly tumbled down, along with their heads.

From the western terrace it’s five minutes’ walk to the eastern terrace. Both terraces have similar plans, with the syncretistic gods, the ’ancestors’ of Antiochus, seated. From left to right they are Apollo, the sun god (Mithra to the Persians; Helios or Hermes to the Greeks); Fortuna, or Tyche; in the centre Zeus-Ahura Mazda; then King Antiochus; and on the far right Heracles, also known as Ares or Artagnes. The seated figures are several metres high, their heads alone about 2m tall.

Low walls at the sides of each temple once held carved reliefs showing processions of ancient Persian and Greek royalty, Antiochus’ ’predecessors’. Statues of eagles represent Zeus.

Adiyaman Historical Places

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