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Fouilltes de Sagalassos

Nemrut Mountain

on 15/09/2013
Nemrut dag

Nemrut dag

Crowning one of the highest peaks of the Eastern Taurus mountain range in south-east Turkey, Nemrut Dağ is the Hierotheseion (temple-tomb and house of the gods) built by the late Hellenistic King Antiochos I of Commagene (69-34 B.C.) as a monument to himself.

With a diameter of 145 m, the 50 m high funerary mound of stone chips is surrounded on three sides by terraces to the east, west and north directions. Two separate antique processional routes radiate from the east and west terraces. Five giant seated limestone statues, identified by their inscriptions as deities, face outwards from the tumulus on the upper level of the east and west terraces. These are flanked by a pair of guardian animal statues – a lion and eagle – at each end. The heads of the statues have fallen off to the lower level, which accommodates two rows of sandstone stelae, mounted on pedestals with an altar in front of each stele. One row carries relief sculptures of Antiochos’ paternal Persian ancestors, the other of his maternal Macedonian ancestors. Inscriptions on the backs of the stelae record the genealogical links. A square altar platform is located at the east side of the east terrace. On the west terrace there is an additional row of stelae representing the particular significance of Nemrut, the handshake scenes (dexiosis) showing Antiochos shaking hands with a deity and the stele with a lion horoscope, believed to be indicating the construction date of the cult area. The north terrace is long, narrow and rectangular in shape, and hosts a series of sandstone pedestals. The stelae lying near the pedestals on the north terrace have no reliefs or inscriptions.

The Hierotheseion of Antiochos I is one of the most ambitious constructions of the Hellenistic period. Its complex design and colossal scale combined to create a project unequalled in the ancient world. A highly developed technology was used to build the colossal statues and orthostats (stelae), the equal of which has not been found anywhere else for this 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.

 


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