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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.
The Collosal Angient Statues of Mount Nemrut
Mount Nemrut, or Nemrut Dag, is located near the village of Karadut in Kahta country in the province of Adiyaman, Turkey. The land was ruled in ancient times by kings of the Commagene dynasty from 80 B.C. to 72 A.D. The Commagene kingdom was founded by Mithradates I, one of Rome’s greatest enemies. However, after the bloody Kommagene wars, the kingdom lost its independence and became part of the Roman province of Syria.
Nevertheless, the Commagene kingdom left its mark on history. At the summit of Nemrut Dag, magnificent remains of collosal statues remind of the kingdom’s religious beliefs and the greatness of a king. Antiochos I was the son of the legendary Mithradates I and ruled from 69 to 36 BC. He claimed Persian descent from Darius I (552-486 BC) and through his mother, Greek descent from Alexander the Great.
During his life, Antiochos prepared his eternal resting place. But he didn’t want an ordinary tomb. He wanted to create something magnificent as “a debt of thanks to the gods and to his deified ancestors for their manifest assistance”. His aim was also to provide the people with an “example of the piety that the gods commanded be shown towards the gods and towards ancestors”.
The burial mound at the summit of Mount Nemrut measures 50 meters high and covers an area of approximately 150 meters in diameter. The colossal statues overlooking the court on the east are made of limestone and are from 8 to 10 meters high. The inscriptions helped identify the well preserved statues. They appear from left to right with names in Greek and their Persian counterpart: Antiochos, the goddess Kommagene, Zeus-Oromasdes (the supreme deity that has the largest sized statue), Apollo-Mithras and Herakles-Artagnes. The divinities are flanked by a guardian eagle and lion.
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