Sunday, September 14, 2014

Nemrut Dagi: Antiochus & the Gods

Photos by Jack Waldron

As proof of his royal decent from Alexander the Great and the Achaemenids of Persia, Antiochus I Theos, who desired to give posterity a monument to celebrate his lineage as well as be buried 'close to the celestial throne', built on the highest summit in his kingdom a truly colossus funerary tribute to himself, Nemrut Dagi.
Nemrut is one of those travel guide fantasies that many dream about visiting, but rarely make the journey to see and experience.  Below, Clare and Kathy have made that journey all the way from Hong Kong.

The sanctuary was rediscovered by the German engineer Karl Sester in 1881.  The burial chamber of Antiochus has yet to be unearthed.  The tumulus reaches to a height of 50 meters, while the diameter is approximately 150 meters.  
Though the Commagene kingdom has been described as a "relatively unimportant kingdom", it seems to have played the role of a hegemonic state between the rotating powers from the west and the various invading powers from the east.
Pictured above, the Commagene goddess of plenty toppled and set upright before the headless gods on the western terrace.  Below, a bearded Hercules and Antiochus keep the Comagene goddess company.
Situated on the Western Terrace from left to right, Lion, Eagle, a beardless Apollo-Mithra-Helios with rays of sun adorning his hat, Tyche, Zeus-Ahurmazda, Antiochus, Ares-Artagenes-Hercules, and again Eagle and Lion, the gods (including Antiochus himself) hold court over the burial of the setting sun.
Pictured above, a Commagene sculpture depicting Antiochus puts him on an equal footing with gods which is a common theme at the site. 
Above, I mingle amongst the gods if only for a moment in time, conversing on the question of Being, as Antiochus must have done millennia ago, and as he seems to tasked with in this sculpture (pictured above).
We climbed up to the eastern terrace upon arrival before circumventing the summit to witness the setting sun.  

Accompanying the gods at this cerimonial sunset ritual were two goddesses who had journeyed from the far away land of Hong Kong and were called Clare and Kathy, and who love taking selfies with their newest gadget, the GoPro (pictured below).

Above, the eastern terrace and the summit make an impressive scene.
Pictured above, a royal lion guards the fire alter of the eastern terrace sanctuary with the rising sun at its back.  Below, a photo of the eastern summit of Nemrut Dagi as viewed from my hotel room.  Update 2017: this hotel is no more.  The whole district around Nemrut has been reclaimed by the government, and new tourist facilities have been built, with illegal occupation of land ended.

*All photos and content property of Jack Waldron (photos may not be used without written permission)

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