Turkey's "Easter Island"

Trip Start Jul 25, 2011
Trip End Aug 14, 2011

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Flag of Turkey  , Adıyaman,
Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Today we visited Mount Nemrut. On the way to Mt. Nemrut we also crossed an old Roman Bridge (the Severan Bridge) built between 193-211 which spans the Kahta River.  It is considered to be the second longest bridge built by the Romans.  Three Corinthian columns stand at the entrance to the bridge (two on one side commemorating Septimius Severus and his wife, one on the other, dedicated to Caracalla.  The fourth column was to Geta but Caracalla ordered it removed following Geta's assassination by Caracala, who damned his memory and order Geta's name to be removed from all inscriptions. ) The columns were constructed around 200 AD. Also, prior to our climb at Mt. Nemrut, we visited near the ancient Commagene city of Arsameia where we climbed to see a huge carving of  Antiochus  shaking the hand of Heracles.
This whole area is part of Turkey's Mt. Nemrut National Park which was declared at UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.

     Mt. Nemrut (Nemrut Dag) is one of Turkey's most breathtaking destinations. Antiochus I, an Armenian king whose lineage connected him to the Seleucids, Ptolemies, and Macedonians, ruled the small territory of Commagene in Asia Minor in the 1st century B.C. In 64 B.C., Commagene became a Roman province when Antiochus reached a peaceful agreement with Pompey, who had just conquered Syria. Five years later the Roman Senate recognized Antiochus as a friend of the state, awarding him the Toga Praetexta. Antiochus maintained contact with the Roman Empire throughout his reign, even supplying soldiers to Pompey during his conflict with Julius Caesar.

    For his mortuary complex, Antiochus ordered the assembly of a mountain of crushed rock, atop an existing mountain of nearly 7000",  reaching over 150 feet  into the air. Master sculptors carved a monumental scene of the king seated among the gods, including Greco-Roman deities such as Zeus, Apollo, and Heracles.  There is an Eastern Facade which depicts the Persian heritage of Antiochus on one side of his family, and the Western Side which depicts the Greek heritiage.   Over the centuries, the colossal statues, each over 30 feet tall, have been damaged by earthquakes and their stone heads have been sent rolling down the hillside. King Antiochus’ burial complex, now known as Mount Nemrut Archaeological Site, was first rediscovered in 1881, but archaeological activity only began in 1953. Since the start of excavation, most of the heads have been found, in addition to temples, bas reliefs, and inscriptions.

The beautifully carved  heads of the colossal statues have been removed from the bodies and lay scattered around the haunting peak of Mount Nemrut, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is believed that King Antiochus's remains are in a chamber cut into the rock and that tons of loose rock where piled above it to eventually form the peak that makes up the highest elevations of Mt. Nemrut.   The heads are of eagles, lions, Persian and Greek Gods and of Antiochus, himself.

This  site may have been the highlight of our trip in Turkey.  The climb of Mt. Nemrut is somewhat strenuous in the heat of the sun.   The site is located some 6500'  and is covered in snow around 6 months of the year.  Erosion has taken its toll; the path up is steep at times with rocky footing, and a lot of loose gravel which you can easily slip on,  and if you are there in the summer it can be incredibly hot.  However, the climb is worth it.   We led our little group and were the only one to view the site for approximately 5 minutes.  The heads are stunning and the view from the top is beautiful.    You can also ride up and back  on donkeys though some of our fellow travelers thought it was too scary!  Off in the distance you can also see the Euphrates River.

There is a little picnic spot, restroom and tiny souvenir and bottle shop near the parking area.  If you are driving, beware of the twisty-turny, narrow road up steep mountains. 

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