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Mount Nemrut and King Antiochus

Mount Nemrut and King Antiochus

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Mount Nemrut and King Antiochus, Commagene Kingdom, The most detailed documentary!

Mount Nemrut: Ancient Little Kingdom

A journey out to eastern Turkey is an adventure filled with long bus rides, cheap hotels, and little visited gems tucked away in every nook and cranny. Expect empty places unlike those that you will find in Istanbul, Selcuk, Pamukkale, and Cappadocia One of the first must visit sites out in Turkey’s east in Mount Nemrut where a King of one of the tiny micro kingdoms of the ancient world lays alone on the mountain top today.

The faces of kings and gods that are more than 2,000 years old

Visiting Mount Nemrut

Mount Nemrut is an area that is one hundred percent worth your time and effort to get there.

You can both see historical artifacts and learn about the history and enjoy the incredible view of Mount Nemrut.

Where is Mount Nemrut located on the map of Turkey?

Mount Nemrut is located in the Kahta district of Adiyaman province which is located in the Southeast Anatolian region of Turkey.

Mount Nemrut is in the Northeast part of Adiyaman. Adiyaman is surrounded by Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Malatya, and Elazig.

How do you get to Mount Nemrut?

You can get to Adiyaman by car, by bus or by plane. The answer for how you get to Adiyaman depends according to your starting point.

Getting to Mount Nemrut from Adıyaman City Center

Mount Nemrut is 68 kilometers away from the airport, and 86 kilometers away from the city center, and the bus station of Adiyaman is in the city center. Adiyaman train station is approximately 1 hour of driving away from the city center.

Once you get to Adiyaman, you can use services that takes you to Mount Nemrut, or you can rent a minibus to take you there. From Adiyaman city center, it will take around one and a half hours to get to Mount Nemrut. From the Adiyaman city center, you need to take long-distance buses that take you to Kahta district. To get to Mount Nemrut from Kahta district, you need to find a service, a tour or you can rent your own minibus. Unfortunately, there are no public transportation options to get to Mount Nemrut from Adiyaman city center.

Getting to Mount Nemrut from Istanbul

The distance between İstanbul and Adıyaman is about 1250km (780 miles) and it will take approximately 15 hours of driving to get to Adiyaman from Istanbul. If you are using the bus to get to Adiyaman, this duration can be up to 19 hours.

You can find direct flights to Adiyaman from Istanbul but except in the wintertime. The duration of the flight is is approximately 100 minutes.

Getting to Mount Nemrut from Ankara

If your starting point is Ankara, your first option is to use the highway. It will take approximately 7 and a half hours of driving, yet you are getting there with a bus, this duration can be up to 12 hours. You can prefer Kahramanmaras road or Malatya road while you are getting to Adiyaman from Ankara. Malatya road is recommended if you are short on time, but if you have enough time you can choose to get to Adiyaman by directly Adiyaman highway, and this way you can see Artemia ruins on your way.

Additionally, you can prefer to get to Adiyaman from Ankara by plane.

Getting to Mount Nemrut from İzmir

If your starting point is İzmir, the road will take approximately 16 hours of driving. You can prefer to get to Adiyaman by plane.

Getting to Mount Nemrut from Other Major Destinations

In addition to those cities, you can get to Adiyaman from the Cappadocia region, Adana, or Diyarbakir by bus or by car. The following are the distances between those cities and Adiyaman:

  • 332 kilometers away from Adana
  • 205 kilometers away from Diyarbakır
  • 932 kilometers away from Antalya
  • 415 kilometers away from Cappadocia.

Visiting hours of the Mount Nemrut

Visiting hours of Mount Nemrut depends on the wintertime and the summertime.

In the wintertime, (defined between the dates October 1 and April 1) the Mount Nemrut is open to visitors between 04:00 AM and 08:00 PM. In the summertime, (defined as between the dates April 1 and October 1) the Mount Nemrut is open to visitors between 05:00 AM and 06:30 PM.

Entrance fee of the Mount Nemrut

The entrance fee of the Mount Nemrut is 25 Turkish liras.

If you have a museum card, you can visit Mount Nemrut for free, two times a year (For Turkish Citizens only). If you are not a Turkish citizen, you can still get a museum pass but its regulations are different. You can click here to learn more about the museum pass.

You can get a museum card from the entrance of Mount Nemrut, and if you are planning to see other museums and historical landmarks, getting a museum card is strongly recommended. But if your plan is just to visit Mount Nemrut, then getting a museum card will cost you more than paying the entrance fee, and will be useless.

How long to spend in Mount Nemrut?

The duration you will spend in Mount Nemrut is totally up to you. Some prefer sitting there all day long with their loved ones, and some prefer just exploring the area and leave. Only seeing the statues and sculptures will not take more than 30 minutes. But since you got a long way to get there, enjoying Mount Nemrut as much as you can is highly recommended.

Climbing to Mount Nemrut

Climbing to Mount Nemrut is a wonderful experience, and your preferred time to climb there influences your experience.

Since Mount Nemrut is quite high, if you prefer climbing there at sunrise or sunset, you will have a peak experience in your life. Since getting to Mount Nemrut will take around 1 hour from the city center of Adiyaman, start your road trip according to it and try your best to get there on time to watch the sunrise or sunset.

The view is so amazing in sunset and sunrise that, Mount Nemrut sometimes hosts photography events. Even though you are going there to take pictures from your phone, the results will be amazing.

Nemrut – The Mountain Tomb

Nemrut is a mountain in the Taurus Mountain range that separates the Mediterranean coastal region from the central Anatolian Plateau in southern Turkey.

In 62 BC, King Antiochus I Theos of Commagene constructed a tomb-sanctuary on the summit of the mountain, at an elevation of 2,134 metres.

Antiochus I Theos of Commagene was the King of the Greco-Iranian Kingdom of Commagene (a successor state of the Seleucid Empire) whose rulers were a Hellenised branch of the Iranian Orontid dynasty.

The Commagene Kingdom occupied the land between the Taurus mountains and the Euphrates, centred on the ancient city of Samosata, and served as a buffer state between Armenia, Parthia, Syria, and Rome.

During his reign, Antiochus created his own cult to be worshiped after his death in a Greek form fused with Zoroastrianism. In an inscription, he decreed that his tomb would be constructed in a remote place close to the gods, with him being deified and worshipped among their ranks.

The tomb sanctuary reflects the mixed cult beliefs, with huge statues arranged in a hierothesion of Antiochus, lions, eagles, and various Greek, Armenian, and Iranians deities, such as Heracles-Artagnes-Ares, Zeus-Oromasdes, and Apollo-Mithras-Helios-Hermes. At some point in history, the heads of the statues were removed (possibly because of iconoclasm) and scattered throughout the site.

The site effigies also display a fusion of Greek and Persian influences, with the clothing portrayed in a Persian iconographic style, whilst the physical features suggest a Greek artistic style.

The sanctuary also consists of a 49-metre tall tumulus and two ceremonial terraces. The western terrace depicts a lion, showing an arrangement of stars and the planets Jupiter, Mercury, and Mars – suggesting an astrological calendrical representation for ceremonies owing to an astronomical or religious nature.

The sanctuary was forgotten for centuries until excavations in the late 19th century by German archaeologists revealed that the site was a royal tomb for Antiochus, based on inscriptions discovered throughout the site.

To date, subsequent excavations have failed to find Antiochus’s burial chamber.

Mount Nemrut: A 2,000-Year-Old Mountaintop Tomb in Turkey

Over 2,000 years ago, King Antiochus I chose the 7,000-foot-high Mount Nemrut in the Taurus mountains of southeastern Turkey for his tomb.

The result of his monumental effort to rest in peace close to the gods offers a fascinating experience for today's traveler.

I learned about these mountaintop ruins, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, from Adam Rapp of Clothing Arts.

We'd met up for a day of food and sightseeing in New York City before I departed for Istanbul with Turkish Airlines.

Based on his recommendation and doing little more than researching how to get there, I soon found myself in the nearby town of Kahta asking around for guides.

Mount Nemrut at a distance

I found one in Khadir, who charged $75 for a full-day tour with stops at:

  • Mount Nemrut (Nemrut Dagi in Turkish)
  • Yeni Kale Fortress
  • Severan (Cendere) Bridge
  • Karakus Tumulus

It was early June, and spring was in the air.

Mount Nemrut is best visited in warmer months, from May to September. Snow makes the peak inaccessible from mid-October to April.

Visiting Mount Nemrut at sunrise or sunset is popular due to its commanding views of the surrounding countryside.

I can't recall if I considered a sunrise visit or not.

I'd flown into Kahta (via Istanbul) from a side trip to Tbilisi, Georgia, and it's unlikely I'd have been interested.

The upside of skipping sunrise from Mount Nemrut was that there were fewer people by mid-morning.

It felt like I had one of Turkey's most amazing sites to myself.

Entrance to Nemrut Dagi Milli Parki

Getting There

Mount Nemrut is 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Kahta the drive takes about an hour.

If you want to cut your drive time to Mount Nemrut in half, there are several guesthouses in Karadut, a town within the national park.

The road was nearly completely paved when I visited, with the last section near the parking area still under construction. I'm sure it's finished by now.

Stairs leading up Mount Nemrut View from Mount Nemrut

The final stretch from the parking area to the tomb is a 20-minute walk along a stone pathway.

It's not too hard, and you can stop anywhere along the way to catch your breath and take pictures.

There are a few stone benches, too. However, it's safe to say this is not a wheelchair-accessible site.

A warning against climbing on the tumulus

Once you reach the top, a sign warns against climbing on the tumulus, the loose rock used to create a burial mound on the mountaintop.

The tumulus is about 164 feet (50 meters) tall, although it's believed to have been as high as 197 feet (60 meters) when it was first created.

Over the last 2,000 years, the tumulus and statues atop Mount Nemrut have been subject to earthquakes, vandalism, erosion, and overzealous tourists.

If you visit, please act responsibly to help maintain this delicate site for future generations to enjoy.

The Eastern Terrace

The base of the tumulus features two terraces, one on the eastern side and another on the western side, each of which has five 26 to 30-foot high stone statues.

The statue to the far left on the Eastern Terrace is King Antiochos I of Commagene, who lived from 69-34 B.C. and ruled over a small Greco-Iranian kingdom.

Three of the other four statues depict the gods of Zeus, Apollo, and Hercules. King Antiochos I certainly thought highly of himself.

Whether the heads of all ten statues were purposefully removed or shaken loose from earthquakes and erosion seems up for debate.

Regardless of how they ended up on the ground, the fact that you can stand next to them and examine their features in detail makes this site special.

Guarding the King and gods are animal heads, including that of a lion and an eagle.

The Eastern Terrace also features an altar, likely used for sacrifices, opposite the statues.

It's here that you can watch sunrise, just as they did thousands of years ago.

The Western Terrace

Fairly flat pathways connect the Eastern and Western Terraces on both the north and south sides.

The seated statues aren't as well preserved on the Western Terrace, but the heads are in better shape!

Dave points to the head of Heracles Artagnes Ares

The sage-looking head of Heracles Artagnes Ares was one of my favorites.

There's no altar on the western side, but it's where you'll want to be if you're there for sunset.

Heads of statues Persian Eagle God Sandstone steles

You'll also encounter sandstone steles with engravings in addition to the stone heads of gods and their protectors.

Relief carvings were also found here. They have since been moved to the Adiyaman Archaeological Museum, an hour's drive west of Kahta.

Lion horoscope (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The museum's highlight is the relief of a lion with 19 stars and a crescent moon under its neck.

It's thought to represent Leo and is, therefore, one of the earliest known representations of a horoscope.

After exploring the site for a little over an hour and taking all the photos I wanted, Khadir and I returned to the car.

We spent about two hours total at Mount Nemrut, including the walk up and down the peak.

From there, Khadir took me to three nearby points of interest, all standard stops on any private or group tour.

Yeni Kale Fortress (atop mountain)

Sites Near Mount Nemrut

Yeni Kale Fortress is perched atop rocky cliffs in Eski Kahta.

And while we didn't visit the ruins, I was glad we stopped along the road as I love the photo I got with flowers in the foreground juxtaposed against the jagged rock.

The fortress occupies an area that was once home to Commagene's rulers, which presumably included King Antiochos I.

Our second stop was Severan (Cendere) Bridge, which the Romans built in the 2nd century A.D.

Running a total length of 390 feet (120 meters) with a span of 112 feet (34.2 meters), it's one of the largest Roman arch bridges.

The bridge was restored in 1997 and is now closed to vehicle traffic to ensure its preservation.

While I was there, I saw locals in Chabinas Creek below. It appeared some were there to do laundry while the kids were there to swim.

Karakus Tumulus (south face)

The third and final stop after my visit to Mount Nemrut was the Karakus Tumulus, a 115-foot (35-meter) high burial mound for three women:

  • Queen Isias, wife of King Antiochos I.
  • Princesses Antiochis, daughter of King Antiochos I
  • Princess Aka I, daughter of Princess Antiochis

Karakus means “black bird” in Turkish, and a single 30-foot (9-meter) Doric column on the south side features an eagle atop it.

Facing the tumulus from the south, it was a clear enough day to see Mount Nemrut off to the northeast side.

In the photo above, it appears as a dark triangular shape to the right of the burial mound.

In a culturally and historically rich country like Turkey, it can be hard to decide where to spend your time.

I spent six weeks backpacking in Turkey and saw ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

My experience visiting Mount Nemrut stands out as two of the most memorable hours of the entire trip.

Mount Nemrut: The Secrets Of The Commagene Kingdom

The haunting sculptures overlooking Mount Nemrut are some of the most magnificent that you'll find anywhere in the world. Giant heads built in the 1st century B.C. under the Commagene Kingdom look out over an incredible sunrise and sunset every day. These massive sculptures are like just about nowhere else in the world, weighing at 6 tons and are a full 10 meters tall.

But where do these mysterious sculptures come from? What is the Commagene Kingdom? Who was King Antiochus I Theos? Why were they built? What purpose do they serve? And why on this spot? It’s one of the few examples in history where we have the remnants of the history and not the memory, so it’s up to us to set the record right and discover the history of this land all over again.

What was the Commagene Kingdom?

This kingdom was an ancient Armenian kingdom that essentially served as a buffer state between ancient Rome and Persia. In fact, the kings of Commagene claimed ancestry from Darius I Persia.

Its capital was the grand city of Samosata, of which just about nothing remains. The valley at the bottom of Mount Nemrut is likely the location for the city. As you can see, even the known history of the kingdom is a little shrouded in history, but it’s reckoned that the kingdom remained relatively independent until 17 AD, when it was conquered by the Roman emperor Tiberius. It regained independence for a couple decades before being incorporated in the Roman Empire once and for all in 72 AD by the emperor Vespasian.

The kings of the kingdom appear to have been extremely powerful and wealthy, and certainly the sculptures and Mount Nemrut speak to this.

The End of Kommagene

The son of Antiochus, Mithridates II, succeeded him to the throne. Kommagene was no longer a match for the Roman empire. Under the reign of Mithridates II, Kommagene became a satellite state and finally a part of the province of Syria.

When the Parthian crown prince was slain in battle against the Romans, the sorrow of the king was so great that he abdicated. It was no comfort to him that Antiochus, the grandfather of the crown prince, was risking his kingdom by providing protection for the survivors of the defeated Parthian army.

The Parthian king was succeeded by one of his other sons. This son was merciless. He murdered everyone who could possibly threaten his throne. Laodike and her children were also assassinated.

Mithridates II transferred the body of his sister to Kommagene and buried her at the burial mound of Karakus (Black Bird). He placed the beautiful relief slab in memory of her. It shows his farewell to Laodike. From the inscriptions, we learn that Mithridates was very fond of her : "She was the most beautiful of all women. "

Mithridates built Karakus on the banks of the river Nymphaios. Also his mother Isias and his second sister Antiochis are buried here, together with Aka, the daughter of Antiochis. From the galleries of his summer residence, high above the dizzy depths of the ravine, he looked out over the green valley of the Nymphaios, at the striking mound of Karakus. In this way his beloved ones would always be close to him, even after their death.

His jealous brother, Antiochus II, tried to overthrow Mithridates II from his throne. For this, Antiochus II was adjucated by the Romans. The senate of Rome sentenced him to death and in 29 B.C. he was executed in Rome.

Kommagene became independent for the last time under King Antiochus IV. That was only for a short time. Antiochus IV was defeated by the Roman legions during the War of Kommagene in 71 A.D. The small army of Kommagene was disbanded. Its dreaded archers and heavily armoured cavalry were absorbed into the Roman army as the 'cohortes Comagenorum'.

To avoid any rebellion in the future, the Roman soldiers destroyed all the statues and buildings which recalled the earlier greatness of Kommagene. They demolished the sanctuary on holy Mount Nemrud. Kommagene died and the Nemrud began its long sleep, disturbed only by the howling of the mountain wind and the visit of a lost shepherd.

Mount Nemrut and King Antiochus - History

The Hierothesion of Mount Nemrut, located on one of the important crossing points on the Upper Euphrates valley, was constructed during reign of King Antiochus I, who ruled during the most prominent period of the Commegene Kingdom [163(?) or 80(?)BC – 72 AD]. The kingdom&rsquos boundaries spread from Kahramanmaraş to the west and Malatya and the Taurus Mountains to the north. Today, the Tumulus of Mount Nemrut is located in the town of Kahta within the boundaries of Adıyaman Province.

Spread over an area of 2.6 hectars (26.000m2), the Hierothesion is comprised of a conical tumulus sloped at 30-35 degrees at the center, and three terraces surrounding it on the west, east and north sides, together with processional ways leading to the tumulus from the northeast and the southwest. The highest point of the tumulus is at 2206 m, while its diameter is 145 m. The east and west terraces are alike, however the north terrace is completely different from those two.

In the east and west terraces, there are five limestone god statues with their backs turned to the tumulus, flanked by guardian animals, lions (A and I) and eagles (B and H), on each side. In each of these terraces, the gods situated between the guardian animals are, from left to right: Antiochus (C), Commagene/ Tyche (D), Zeus/ Oromasdes (E), Apollon/ Mithras-Helios-Hermes (F) ve Herakles/ Artagnes-Ares (G).

At the back of the statues, identical in both terraces, is Antiochus&rsquo will (nomos), which is inscribed in ancient Greek, on which the gods are referred to with their Greek and Persian names. Besides the colossal statues in the terraces, there are stelae plinths in front of the altars, situated symmetrically in the east terrace, and along the width of the terrace in the west terrace due to its narrowness.

In the east terrace, there is a square platform, which Goell refers to as the stepped pyramid, but other researchers prefer to call the altar. In the west terrace, there is a series of stelae with dexiosis scenes and the Lion Horoscope, which is assumed to show the date of construction of the tumulus.

The north terrace, situated to the northwest of the tumulus, is like a narrow rectangle and contains sandstone plinths. Next to these plinths lie collapsed stelae which bear no inscriptions or reliefs. There are two gaps in the plinth series of the north terrace, one of which – the one on the west – is interpreted by Goell as the entrance gate to the site from the Processional Way.

World Heritage

UNESCO Documents

Mount Nemrut Tumulus is one of the sites in Turkey inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List. The World Heritage List, which started to be made in 1978, currently (2015) includes 1007 monuments/sites from different countries, 197 of them are natural, 31 of them are mixed (natural & cultural) and 779 of which are listed as cultural properties (

Mount Nemrut Tumulus was included on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987 on the basis of criteria I, III and IV, with the reference number 448. Features that ensure Mount Nemrut Tumulus to be listed as a World Heritage are:

&ldquoBeing an important ensemble of architectural and sculptural monuments bearing witness to the fusion of Persian, Hellenistic and Anatolian traditions of styles its complex design and colossal scale combined to create a project unequalled in the ancient world the high technology used which was seen nowhere else in that age&rdquo.

The web address of the UNESCO World Heritage List presents a short definition of Nemrut and its location with few photographs in the gallery. The short definition given there is shown below:


Date of Inscription: 1987
Criteria: (i)(iii)(iv)
Property: 13850 ha
Adıyaman İli
N38 02 11.8 E38 45 49.3
Reference Number: 448

Brief Description

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.

There are three main documents on Nemrut in the website of UNESCO World Heritage Centre, under the title &ldquoDocuments&rdquo ( The names and contents of these documents can be obtained here. Legal Status

Here you can find information and documents on the national and international status of the Tumulus of Mount Nemrut. Related national and international documents and decisions are given below in chronological order (in Turkish).

Excavations and Research

The Anatolian Kingdom of Commagene, which is not mentioned in ancient sources, did not attract researchers&rsquo attention until the discovery of the cult area (Hierothesion) at Mount Nemrut in 1881. After the discovery of the Tumulus of Mount Nemrut by Karl Sester in 1881, Nemrut and the Commagene Kingdom became a research topic for many scholars and scientists, both Turkish and foreign, followed by excavations and restoration work at Nemrut and publications concerning their results. These studies were compiled in the Nemrut archive established by METU within the context of CNCDP and are presented chronologically below.

1881, Karl Sester and Otto Puchstein: Discovery of the Tumulus
This sacred place (Hierothesion) at Mount Nemrut was first discovered in 1881 by Karl Sester. After this discovery, with the information provided by Sester, the Nemrut Tumulus attracted the attention of German authorities, leading to the first investigation by the archaeologist Otto Puchstein and Karl Sester in 1882.

1882, Osman Hamdi Bey and Osgan Efendi: The First Turkish Team at Nemrut

Osman Hamdi Bey, appointed as the director of Müze-i-Hümayun (Museum of the Ottoman Empire) in 1881, and Osgan Efendi, sculptor and instructor at Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi (School of Fine Arts), were assigned, as part of an Ottoman mission in 1882, to study the monuments of Mount Nemrut and shed light on various questions on this subject. The authors presented the results of their research, which included partial excavations and comparisons with the findings of Puchstein, in the French publication &ldquoLe Tumulus de Nemroud Dagh&rdquo (1st edition 1883, 2nd edition 1987).

1882, Karl Humann and Otto Puchstein: From Anatolia to North Syria

In June 1882, the same year as Osman Hamdi Bey and Osgan Efendi, Karl Humann and Otto Puchstein travelled to Nemrut to conduct research (Dörner, 1999: 32, 40). The latter two published the results of their research on the Commagene region and archaeological findings in northern Syria in the two volume work entitled &ldquoReisen in Kleinasien und Nordsyrien-ausgeführt im Auftrage der Kgl. Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, beschrieben von Karl Humann und Otto Puchstein&rdquo (Travels in Anatolia and Northern Syria—An Assignment of the Prussian Royal Academy. Related by: Karl Humann and Otto Puchstein) in 1890, almost 10 years after their field research. These two volumes cover research conducted at Mount Nemrut between 1882 and 1883. We would like to thank Istanbul German Archaeological Institute and Prof. Scott Redford for providing us a copy of this book.

Research interrupted

After Humann and Puchstein&rsquos publication in 1890, research concerning Mount Nemrut and Commagene was interrupted for many years. Field research focusing on Mount Nemrut did not recommence until the establishment of the Turkish Republic (1923), even until 1938. However, beginning in 1896, certain researchers did publish their various studies on Antiochus&rsquo Hierothesion (Sanders, 1996: 30-31).

1954-1958 and 1984, Karl F. Dörner at Nemrut

Starting from 1936-37, Dörner became interested in Nemrut, and in 1938 he conducted research with the architect R. Naumann. The two young researchers published the results of their investigations under the name of &ldquoForschungen in Kommagene&rdquo (Research in Commagene) in 1939 (Dörner, 1999: 138-149). In 1951, after World War II, Dörner returned to the region. Dörner&rsquos priority was to excavate Arsameia, while his interest Nemrut continued. In the same year, an American team comprising Theresa Goell and Albrecht Goetze arrived at Nemrut. These two groups agreed to carry out collaborative research at Mount Nemrut and Arsameia (Dörner, 1999: 178). Subsequently, Dörner and Goell worked together at Nemrut from 1953 to 1956 uninterruptedly, and for the last time in 1958.

In 1984, certain repairs were implemented at Nemrut by Dörner, a group of German researchers and experts from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. In 1984, Dörner&rsquos (1911-1992) health declined and this was his last active year at Nemrut.

Dörner related his research at Nemrut and Arsameia in various articles and publications. The most important among these was &ldquo&ldquoKommagene-Götterthrone und Königsgraber am Euprat–Neue Entdeckungen der Archaologie&ldquo (1981). In 1987, the expanded edition of this work entitled &ldquoDer Thron der Götter auf dem Nemrud Dağ&rdquo was translated into Turkish and published by the Turkish History Institution (Türk Tarih Vakfı).

1956-1973, Queen of the Mountain: Theresa Goell

Goell (1901-1985) became interested in Mount Nemrut after 1939 and she arrived at Mount Nemrut for the first time in 1947, followed by another visit in 1951 (Sanders, 1996: XXIII, XXIV). She worked with Dörner between 1951-1956 later, in 1958, 1961, 1963, 1964 and 1967 she worked at Nemrut and Dörner&rsquos excavations at Arsameia.

During the first years of her research, Goell focused primarily on excavation and documentation work, while between 1954 and 1956, she carried out excavations in search of Antiochos&rsquo tomb inside the tumulus (Sanders, 1996: 44, 47). Unsuccessful in these attempts, Goell continued with geophysical research at Nemrut in 1961 and Samsat excavations between 1964-1974. In 1973, Goell restored the fire altar but she could not continue working at Nemrut due to her age and various health problems.

Until her death at the age of 84, Goell was able to publish only a few articles about Nemrut. In 1983, she asked Donald H. Sanders to compile the results of her work (Sanders, 1996: XVII). After 13 years of meticulous work, Sanders compiled Goell&rsquos work and prepared a two-volume work in English entitled &ldquoNemrud Dağı:The Hierothesion of Antiochus I of Commagene&rdquo published in 1996. This work is the most comprehensive publication on Nemrut to this day.

1958, Ara Güler at Nemrut with a French television

During the filming of a documentary on civilizations by a French television, Ara Güler, with prior knowledge of the existence of the Nemrut Tumulus, suggests that they film the Tumulus of Mount Nemrut, and accompanies them to the tumulus, where he takes his own photographs. News of this visit in 1958 is published by more than 100 arts and news magazines throughout the world, especially in Germany and France. (Kürkçüoğlu, S. S., 2002, http: //

Prof. Dr. Sencer Şahin Şahin (1939-2014), Dörner&rsquos student, conducted petrographic research at one monument under the guidance of Dr. B. Fitzner from the Aachen Technical University during the first season of field work in 1987. Later, Şahin carried out geophysical research to determine the location of the tomb chamber and worked on the reconstruction and presentation of the site. Şahin and German researchers presented the results of their research at many venues. Another important contribution of Şahin is the translation of the nomos of King Antiochos I into Turkish, which was published in 1998 under the name &ldquoTanrılar Dağı Nemrut / Mountain of the Gods&rdquo.

1990, İbrahim Demirel at Nemrut

In 1990, the photographer Ibrahim Demirel travelled to the region and visited Mount Nemrut too. As a result of this visit, Demirel&rsquos archives now contain approximately 250 color slides including photographs of most of the sculptures and their details. The METU-CNCDP team extends many thanks to Mr. Demirel who permitted some of his photographs to be presented in this website.

Publications and documentaries on Nemrut

Publications on Nemrut began to increase toward the 1990&rsquos with special attention from Arkeoloji ve Sanat Yayınları / Archeology and Art Publications directed by Nezih Başgelen. The first publication on Nemrut after the establishment of the Republic was the work of Osman Hamdi Bey and Osgan Efendi in 1883, a French book entitled &ldquoLe Tumulus de Nemroud Dagh&rdquo, which was reprinted in 1987. This publication has not yet been translated into Turkish.

This book was followed by the translation F.K. Dörner&rsquos second edition of &ldquoDer Thron der Götter auf dem Nemrud Dağı&rdquo (1987) into Turkish by Vurak Ülkü, which was published by the Turkish History Institution (Türk Tarih Kurumu) with the title &ldquoNemrud Dağı&rsquonın Zirvesinde Tanrıların Tahtları&rdquo in 1990.

In 1998, Arkeoloji ve Sanat Yayınları also began to publish other books on Nemrut including several written or edited by Nezih Başgelen, such as &ldquoTanrılar Dağı Nemrut / Mountain of the Gods&rdquo (1998), &ldquoHavadan Nemrut / Nemrut from the Air&rdquo (2000) and &ldquoNemrut Dağı, Keşfi, Kazıları, Anıtları / Mount Nemrut, its Discovery, Excavations and Monuments&rdquo (2003). Gülcan Acar also edited a book entitled &ldquoNemrud&rdquo (2004) which contains her own photographs.

Among these, those most important publications about the history of research at Nemrut include &ldquoTanrılar Dağı Nemrut / Mountain of the Gods&rdquo (1998) edited by archaeologist Nezih Başgelen, which contains the Turkish translation of the Nomos and &ldquoHavadan Nemrut / Nemrut from the Air&rdquo (2000) which documents Nemrut with aerial photographs.

2001-2003, Herman Brijder and Maurice Crijns: Crijns’ passion for Nemrut

Crijns, who became interested in MountNemrut after 1980s, established the International Nemrud Foundation (INF) in 1998. In 2000, Nemrut was inscribed on the “World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites”, a list issued by the World Monuments Fund (WMF) every two years. A year later, WMF declared its support for INF’s Nemrut Project. The same year, INF signed an agreement with Prof. Brijder from the University of Amsterdam, appointing him as project director for Nemrut. In 2001, a team directed by Brijder and Crijns was granted permission for research with the support of INF. Between 2001-03, the team carried out documentation and research in Nemrut. 2001 works, carried out in collaboration with WMF, were published as “Mission Report 2002”. However, after October 2002, WMF officially withdrew from the project. Brijder-Crijns team continued its research at Nemrut between 2002 and 2003, but its permission was cancelled in 2004 by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism based on the decision of the Adana Conservation Council which promulgated a holistic approach to MountNemrut.

Documentaries and virtual simulation based visual material and films

Besides research, excavations and restoration work supervised by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, various independent groups have also produced various publications, documentaries as well as visual material and films on Nemrut based on virtual simulation.

Throne of the Gods Nemrut

This documentary, prepared by director Tolga Örnek in 2000, was sponsored by Türkiye İş Bankası (Türkiye İş Bank), supported by İstanbul Menkul Kıymetler Borsası (İstanbul Stock Exchange) and Çalık Holding and produced by Ekip Film. This film, which includes old views from Goell’s archive as well as interviews with researchers such as Donald H. Sanders and Sencer Şahin, stands out as the most comprehensive documentary on MountNemrut. It has received three important awards:

  • 2001 International Film and Video Festival (USA) (First place in History and Biography),
  • 2001 Avşa Film Festival (Documentary, first place),
  • 2002 Torento Film Festival (Rai Television Award).

Three-dimensional views prepared by Learning Sites, Inc.

The film “Tanrıların Tahtı Nemrut” (Throne of the Gods Nemrut) incorporates original visual material to make a virtual simulation of the Tumulus of Mount Nemrut by the American firm Learning Sites Inc. based on Donald H. Sanders’ research on Theresa Goell’s archives. Learning Sites Inc., founded towards the end of the 1980’s in the United States, is a pioneer in applying digital realism to archaeological sites and specializes in creating reliable archaeological visualization for interactive education and research. (

Hidden Tomb of Antiochus

This documentary, filmed in 2000 by Digital Ranch of California for the American History Channel was first televised in 2001. It was directed by Laura Verklan, with Tufan Turanlı as the cameraman. This film presented Antiochos I and his mausoleum, as well as Arsameia, the CendereBridge and AdıyamanMuseum, together with Zeugma and Şanlıurfa as settlements within the Commagene region. (

A short film presented at the EXPO 2000 Fair

The main theme of the Turkish Pavilion prepared by the Turkish Ministry of Tourism for the EXPO 2000 Fair in Hannover was the Tumulus of Mount Nemrut however the virtual simulation of Nemrut was not based on any scientific research. The Turkish pavilion was designed and executed by INFOTRON (

“Queen of the Mountain”

This documentary, directed by Martha Goell Lubell, relates the biography of Theresa Goell. Produced in 2005, it conveys Goell’s rebellion against limitations imposed by her family and the period, her interest in archaeology, followed by her visit to Commagene after the age of 50 and her personal devotion to Nemrut. This film, which includes visual material based on Goell’s archival films and virtual simulations, was shown at the Brattleboro Women’s Films Festival, and received the “best film” award at the Archaeology Channel Film and Video Festival.

Mount Nemrut Scientific Advisory Committee is established

After the suspension of research at Nemrut in 2004, the Mount Nemrut Scientific Advisory Committee (Nemrut Dağı Bilimsel Danışma Kurulu – NTBDK) was established by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in June 2005, with the aim of guiding future work at Nemrut. The Committee defines future research to be carried out at the Tumulus of Mount Nemrut.

METU’s recommendation for a program concerning Nemrut…

In March 2006, taking into consideration the history and present condition of the Tumulus of Mount Nemrut, the Commagene Conservation Development Program (CNCDP) was prepared by METU, which defined necessary research and field work to be carried out in Nemrut at a macro scale, utilizing new legal devices. Presented to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the CNCDP was approved by the NTBDK on August 15, 2006 and a protocol was signed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and METU, initiating a new phase of research and field work in Nemrut.

History of Nemrut

Strategically important due to the presence of the Euphrates and Taurus mountain passes, the region between the Euphrates, Tigris and Nile rivers, mostly referred to as the Fertile Crescent and where Commagene Kingdom is located, has been inhabited from the Paleolithic period to the present day (Kökten, 1947: 469 Ataman, 1990: 197-207 Dignas & Filges, 1991: 7). As a region allowing access to the Anatolian Plateau from Northern Syria and Upper Mesopotamia, it has always been the target of dominant powers (Strabon, XI, 12.4, 11,14.2 Charlesworth, 1924: 76 Dignas & Filges, 1991: 7).

Emergence of the CommageneKingdom: 163(?)-72 BC

The region, a large part of which remains within the borders of the Province of Adıyaman, was ruled first by the Hittites (1650-1340 BC), later by the Hurri and Mitanni (1300-1200 BC), Late Hittite Principalities (1200-890 BC), Assyrians (850-605 BC) and the Babylonian Kingdom. The Kummuh-Kummuhu Kingdom, established after 1200BC, was considered the founder of the Commagene Kingdom from the 4th century BC onward. The region went under Seleucid rule between 305-63 BC (Appianos, Syria, 55, 62 XI, 8, 48-49). It is thought that, Ptolemaios, rebelling against the Seleucids in 163BC, established the Commagene Kingdom (Diadoros, XXXI, 19a Sullivan, 1975: 31-42 Sanders, 1996: 19). After Ptolemaios, Samos II (130-100 BC), founder of the capital Samosata (Syme, 1995: 10, 41, 71 Mommsen, 1909: 349) and Mithradates Kallinikos I (c. 100-69 BC) were able to defend their state through political marriages with the Seleucids, in the south, and the Parthians, in the east (Dignas & Filges, 1991: 9). Mithridathes Kallinikos I, related to the Macedonian Alexander the Great on his maternal side and the Persian King Darius on his paternal side, gave his kingdom the name Commagene, meaning &ldquocommunity of genes&rdquo in ancient Greek, in reference to the unity of the beliefs, culture and traditions of their eastern and western forefathers (Dörner, 1975: 27 Wagner, 2000: 1).

The Period of King Antiochos I: 69-36 BC

King Antiochos I, who succeeded Mithradates I, elevated the CommageneKingdom to its highest economic and cultural level despite vexing political relations between the Roman and Parthian Empires. The monumental tombs constructed at MountNemrut and in Arsemia are edifices of this period. During this period, the CommageneKingdom, acquiring the title “Friend of the Romans” due to its support for the Roman Consul, attained its widest borders. Commagene, known for its fertile lands during the ancient period, spread until Kahramanmaraş, Göksun and Pınarbaşı to the west and Malatya and the Taurus Mountains to the north, and extended as far as Upper Mesopotamia and the west side of the Upper Euphrates, the Euphrates river to the east, and Nizip and Antakya to the south.

After King Antiochos I

After King Antiochos I, Commagene was ruled by Mithradates II (36-20 BC) and Antiochos III (20 BC-17 AD) and reached its second brilliant period from a military and economic standpoint during the reign of Antiochos Epiphanes (28-72 AD) owing to renewed positive relations with the Roman emperors (Wagner, 1975: 73). However, when in 72 AD Paetus, the governor of Syria, accused King Antiochos IV with treason against the Romans, the lands of the Commagene kingdom were conquered and divided into four parts (Samosata, Caesarea, Germenicae, Perrhe ve Doliche), to be incorporated within the Roman province of Syria (Suetonius, Caligula: 14,3 Dio, LIX: 27, 2f, 1992: Magie, 1950, Vol. II: 1367).

Following the weakening of Roman dominance in the region in the 5th century AD, Adıyaman and environs fell under Byzantine, Ummayad, Abbasid and Arab rule, and parallel to the arrival of Turks in Anatolia, it was transferred to the Seljuq state (1085-1230). After the Mongol (1243), Mamluq (1277) and Dulkadiroğlu (1354) rules, the region was conquered by the Ottomans in 1521.

Architectural Features

The Hierothesion at Mount Nemrut, constructed during the reign of the Commagene King Antiochos I (69-36 BC), was surrounded in antiquity by Melitene (Malatya) to its northwest, Pötürge to the north, Arsameia of the Euphrates (today Gerger) to its east, Samosata (the capital of Commagene) to the south, Perre (Pirin Village of Adıyaman) and Arsemia of Kahta (today known as Old Castle) to the southwest.

The area, approximately 2,6 ha, is composed of a conical tumulus with a 30-35 degree incline and three terraces to its east, west and north. The tumulus is 2206 m in height and 145 m in diameter. In ancient times, this area was accessed by two Sacred Processional Ways from the northeast and southwest, and another road to the north reaching a water source. These roads, identified by Goell with the help of inscribed stelae, can still be observed.

While the east and west terraces were organized in a similar manner, the north terrace differs completely. The level of the east terrace is 11 m higher than the west terrace. At the east terrace, which appears to have been organized symmetrically, on either side of the giant statues resting against the tumulus, are stone plinths with stelae on top as well as the altar which was defined by Goell as a stepped pyramid.

At the foot of the narrower and asymmetrical west terrace, which was widened at its west side with a retaining wall, there are colossal sculptures flanked by stele plinths with altars at the south and west sides. There are four dexiosis (handshake) stelae and a Lion Horoscope at the west terrace. These were transported to the Temporary Restoration Laboratory in 2003.

At the east and west terraces, there are limestone statues of King Antiochos with four gods, and a pair of protective lion and eagle sculptures at each side. These giant sculptures, situated on top of platforms at a higher level, create a monumental effect. The god sculptures are mentioned with their Greek and Persian names, in reference to Commagene&rsquos unifying position between east and west.

In the form of a long, narrow rectangle, the north terrace houses a series of sandstone plinths and stelae without any reliefs or inscriptions. Among the two gaps in the series of bases, the one at the west was interpreted by Goell as an entrance gate to this area from the Sacred Processional Way.

Among the bases of gods’ sculptures at the east and west terraces of Tumulus is an inscription (nomos) with Antiochos’ testament carved with Greek letters. Aside from differences in spelling, both inscriptions are identical in content. The inscription, deciphered by Puchstein in 1882, was erected by Antiochos I (69-36 BC), who linked his lineage to Persian and Macedonian ancestors, so that

“His body, which remained in excellent condition until old age, to rest in peace after his spirit, loved by the gods, is sent to the throne of Zeus-Oromasdes in the sky”


Lion Horoscope

At the west terrace of the Nemrut Tumulus, a Lion Horoscope was found among sandstone stelae depicting scenes of King Antiochos I shaking hands with the gods (dexiosis). Unnoticed during Puchstein’s visit to Nemrut in 1881, these were discovered by Osman Hamdi Bey in 1882 during his excavations. For many years they remained as found until Dörner placed them at the west terrace in 1984 after reparing them with concrete and epoxy (Sanders, 1996: 163). Deteriorated in time, the stelae were transported to the Temporary Restoration Laboratory in 2003.

Dating works on the Lion Horoscope

The Lion Horoscope, approximately 1.75 m high and 2.40 m wide, is the earliest known Greek horoscope thus far discovered. The Lion’s body is depicted from the right side and its face from the front. There are 19 stars carved on its body and surrounding areas as well as a crescent at its neck. The names of Mars, Mercury and Jupiter are inscribed in Greek letters above the larger three stars on the back of the lion.

After its discovery, the monument attracted the attention of many researchers due to its historical characteristics and originality. They usually linked the date on the horoscope with the exact date for the construction of the tumulus. Hypotheses concerning the date depicted on the Horoscope are given on the table below.

Environmental Design

Aim and Scope

The aim of the Preliminary Environmental Design Project (PEDP) is to prevent the deterioration of sculptures caused by uncontrolled mass tourism, to establish decisions concerning the conservation of monuments (without any physical intervention) and ensure controlled presentation and regular monitoring of the area until conservation and restoration works are defined, and to define a Management Model for their implementation. Besides preliminary architectural drawings of Visitor Centers at Adıyaman and Malatya entrances of Nemrut, 1/5.000-1/10.000 scale development plans were produced.

The environmental design project is completed in two stages as Preliminary Environmetal Design Project (PEDP) and Environmental Design Implemetation Project (EDIP). The PEDP was approved by Şanlıurfa Conservation Council in January 2008 and the EDIP is approved in December 2009.

Environmental Design Implementation Project consists of the architectural drawings with various scales from 1/500 up to 1/50 of the festival area (former cafeteria), site office, guardians office buildings and the landscape elements and presentation of the site.


The decisions made within the framework of the PEDP is based on the analysis of macro-scale plans in order to evaluate national and international legal requirements concerning the site the assessment of the present condition of Nemrut and the defined problems and potentials in the area.

Examined documents, the results of which were directly reflected upon the plans and projects, are as follows:

  • Adana and Şanlıurfa Conservation Council and Ministerial Committee Decisions
  • Southeast Anatolia Region Tourism Inventory and Tourism Development Plan (GAP-TETGP, 1999?)
  • Mount Nemrut National Park Long-Term Development Plan (NDMP UDGP, 2002)
  • Integrated Strategic Action Plan (ESEP, 2005) prepared within the context of the Southeast Anatolia Cultural Heritage Conservation and Tourism Development Plan (2005-2015)
  • NEMRUT/ UNESCO WHS Periodic Reporting (2006)

Natural Environment and Roads

In order to preserve the natural environment of the Tumulus of Mount Nemrut and its values, it is planned to protect the site’s present natural characteristics. The roads connected to the area are deemed adequate, however a gradual improvement in their standards is proposed. The Mount Nemrut National Park Long-Term Development Plan proposes controlled vehicle entry to the site from the visitor centers onward. The PEDP envisaged access to Nemrut through seven visitor routes that will be opened progressively and made decisions for the use of the Sacred Processional Ways as well as disabled access to the area.

In accordance with these design decisions, the East and West pedestrian roads are kept but are arranged to join the Festival Amphitheater. The West Pedestrian Road follows the existing itinerary whereas the East Pedestrian Road is oriented towards the West Processional Way of the antique period. Both roads will be covered by gravels. In long term the two processional ways are planned to become the main approaches to the tumulus. The west approach from the Malatya direction is planned to follow the original itinerary of the East Processional Way, and the approach from Adiyaman will follow the original itinerary of the West Processional Way.

In the PEPD, a seperate itinerary and a special vehicule is designed for the disabled access. The itinerary starts from the west side of the festival amphitheater, continues towards north, goes around the Tumulus on the west side and reaches the East Terrace from the north. The road proceeds up to the Tumulus with a maximum grade of 15% following the topography. The vehicule is designed to carry the disabled person and two companions. Being pulled by mules, the vehicle rolls on rails. The arrival point of the vehicule is the wooden platform constructed between the North and East Terraces. The disabled go around the Tumulus on their own afterwards. The wooden platform continues all along the pedestrian access connecting the terraces. In order to adjust the existing road to allow access to the disabled, it is leveled by infill of compacted gravel. The platform is fixed on a steel frame placed on stone gravel infill. The platform is adjacent to the 50 cm high dry-stone wall holding up the Tumulus gravel.

Uses and Users

Four user groups were defined:

3. Personnel and researchers present or planning to work at the site

4. Artists and visitors participating in the festival

Considering the uses and users in the area, spatial problems were determined concerning safety, presentation, as well as basic requirements such as resting, dwelling, eating-drinking, WC. New building / spatial arrangements to meet these requirements were made within the scope of PEDP.

Existing Buildings

Aside from the archaeological elements at the site, man-made temporary structures (restoration laboratory, caravans, etc.), reinforced concrete or stone masonry permanent structures (cafeteria, water depot, etc.), building remains (sheepfolds, toilets, etc.) and building traces (construction foundations) were evaluated based on their effect on the visual unity of the site and their function, quality and location, upon which it was decided to remove them in phases. The cafeteria, which is located at the south and observed from the tumulus, will be demolished after the construction of the Visitor Center, to be replaced by a car park and a festival area.

New Buildings to be constructed

The construction of certain new buildings at the site and its near environs is planned in order to properly present the site to visitors, provide a contemporary shelter for the guards and a suitable environment for research groups who will be working at the site. The following buildings will be constructed:

– Two Visitor Centers (one at the Adıyaman entrance, the other at the Malatya entrance), and visitors’ toilets.

– A guard house for the guards who will be on duty at the site for long periods, and a field office for research groups (to be constructed at a location near the tumulus, but not visible from its surroundings)

– An open-air theatre for the local festival to be constructed on the damaged topography that will be revealed following the destruction of the existing cafeteria building.

A site office for the excavation and research team, storage area, and a space for the security guards will be constructed at the east of the East Terrace, at a lower and hidden part where the remains of sheepfolds take place. The access to the building is by a stone stairway built on the natural topography. The façades of the one storey building will be cladded by local natural stone.

All the temporary buildings in the area (the restoration laboratory, caravans), the concrete or stone buildings (cafeteria, water storage), building remains (sheepfolds, toilet) and traces of the buildings (foundation remains) are planned to be removed gradually over time. The cafeteria building to the south of the Tumulus will be removed after the completion of the Visitor Houses and a festival area will be built in its place.

The Festival Area which will be the last vehicule access point at Mount Nemrut is planned to be an open air amphitheater with a car parking area made of two levels. The festival area is planned to host the annual Nemrut Festival, the beginning of the pedestrian roads and the disabled road start from this area.

An amphitheater, with a seating capacity of approximately 1000 people to host the Annual Nemrut Festival, will be constructed on the land where the existing cafeteria stands today.

Under the scene, located at the west part of the amphitheater, a backstage and artist dressing room and the the storage area to shelter the disabled vehicules take place and at the same time a shaded area is obtained for the visitors waiting to climb to the Tumulus by mules or with the disabled vehicule.

Toilet cabins will be put into service for the visitors. The cabins will be made of high performance solid acrylic material and will be located at the points invisible from the main circulation roads around the tumulus.

Presentation and Landscape Elements

Certain landscape elements (benches, chain barriers, waste bins, and information/preventive panels) exist at the site in response to present needs. However, these elements are mostly of low quality and inadequate in number. The types, location and general aspects of landscape elements necessary for the presentation of the tumulus in accordance with contemporary criteria and security at the site were therefore determined within the context of the PEDP. The project proposed the placement of information/circulation/ presentation/preventive, etc. panels, waste bins, benches, barriers, circulation platforms, viewing points/binoculars, security cameras, etc. and new landscape elements which do not harm the integrity of the site, constructed of stone or embedded within stone, at levels which do not hinder the perception of the archaeological elements at the site.

Infrastructure Elements

There is no water or electricity at the near environs of the tumulus. Although it is not planned to illuminate the tumulus, water and electricity will be supplied without harming the landscape in order to ensure security and control at the site, to respond to visitor needs and to facilitate future conservation work at the site.

Administration, Security and Surveillance

The Adıyaman Museum, responsible for the archaeological site, has ensured security at the site by assigning four guards working in shifts during the season. It is difficult for the guards, who operate in pairs, to provide security in the area. Thus, the site will not be entered without the company of Site Guides. This way, local people will be educated as Site Guides and employment opportunities will be created.

In order to provide security, a camera surveillance system, with 360° vision angle which are installed suitable to observe the whole terrace and the roads will be installed. The image will be transferred to the Camera Unit which is located at a point unseen from the tumulus, a single space building cladded with local stone.

Figure 1 Methodology used in Mount Nemrut Tumulus Environmental Design Project

Figure 2 The use of area during the Nemrut Festival in 2006, METU-CNCDP, 2006

Figure 3 The use of area during the Nemrut Festival in 2006, METU-CNCDP, 2006

Figure 4 The use of area during the Nemrut Festival in 2006, METU-CNCDP, 2006

Figure 5 The use of area during the Nemrut Festival in 2006, METU-CNCDP, 2006

Figure 6 The use of area during the Nemrut Festival in 2006, METU-CNCDP, 2006

Figure 7 The use of area during the Nemrut Festival in 2006, METU-CNCDP, 2006

Figure 8 Guardian caravans located in the archeological area, METU-CNCDP, 2006.

Figure 9 Gendarme caravans located in the open auto-park area, METU-CNCDP, 2006.

Figure 10 Remains of toilet building located on the eastern sacred way, METU-CNCDP, 2006.

Figure 11 The hut located in the south-east side of Tumulus, METU-CNCDP, 2006.

Figure 12 The foundation pit, which is percieved from a long distance, is located in the Photo -west direction of tumulus, METU-CNCDP, 2006.

Figure 13 Personnel shelters and water depot (Y6) METU-CNCDP, 2006.

Figure 14 Existing cafeteria, METU-CNCDP, 2006.

Figure 16 Mount Nemrut Tumulus Environmental Design Project

Figure 17 Mount Nemrut Tumulus Environmental Design Project

Figure 18 The festival area and car parking at the south of the Tumulus (the former cafeteria area)

Figure 20 Lanscape elements at the Tumulus

Figure 21 Site office and guardians office

Visitor Center

In accordance with the Mount Nemrut National Park Long-Term Development Plan, two Visitor Centers were envisioned within the context of the PEDP one at the Adıyaman side and the other at the Malatya side. The development plans, preliminary architectural projects and application the visitor centers were prepared. As most of the tourists arrive from the Adıyaman direction, the building at that side has a more comprehensive design.


The Adıyaman Visitor Center will be constructed 2 km south of the Tumulus, at the nearest invisible area from the tumulus at a topographically suitable site. The building will be the last point for vehicular access with a car park for the visitors.

The objects of the design are to answer the needs and expectations of the different visitor groups (tourist, handicapped, student, etc.) and to offer open and closed spaces enabling alternative activities. The center will provide the visitors with contemporary presentation tools through which they will be informed about Nemrut, and their other needs will be taken care of. Besides its functionality, the building was designed with a concept which integrates the spatial continuity, circulation, light and conception of the environment.

The two storey Adıyaman Visitor Center is oriented towards south facing the landscape with a spatial organization providing visual continuity between floors. The building is hidden in the landsape, difficult to be perceived from the road and the car park. The natural topography between the building and the main road is conserved and tunnel formed entry- exit corridors are designed for the access.

A wooden terrace goes all along the southern façade of the building looking down the landscape. The wooden terrace enlarges towards the east end with an angle coherent with the topography and the roof fringe proceeds to cover the terrace. The cylindrical steel columns carry the terrace and the superstructure. To the north an inner courtyard is created in between the slope of the landscape and the building. All façade openings of the building are designed to be totally closed when the structure remains inactive in winter season in order to be protected from the harsh climatic conditions. The façades are cladded with large size rough stones.

The main circulation axis is between the entry-exit points on the east and west ends of the building. The exhibition spaces, rest areas, multi-purpose room, sales units and cafeteria are placed at left and right sides of this main axis. The visitors enter the building fom the west entrance on the lower level, tour around the Nemrut exhibitions, pause and have rest and exit from the east end on the upper level in order to take the road to the Tumulus.

The galery gap in the middle of the building including the stairs and the handicapped elevator provides the spatial contunity between the exhibition spaces and rest areas in the upstairs. With the help of roof skylight in the galery projection, sunlight mostly reach to the downstairs in earth.
In the exhibition spaces, all of the values of Nemrut Dag Tumulus are aimed to be presented. After the visitors pass the entry hall and reception unit in downstairs, they are provided to follow the informations in the languages they prefer by headphoned devices.

The lower exhibition space has modules that have thematic issues on it and presented inscriptions about Commagene Kingdom. These themes are Nemrut Mount national Park, &ldquoLion Horoscope&rdquo and astrological datings, model of site area, location and features of Tumulus, architectural features of structures, informations about the three terraces, regional geographical conditions and physical features. In order to diversify the graphical presentation and to gain 3D perception, some elements will be used such as site model, small replicas of statue heads that can be touched by visually handicapped people and copy of Lion Horoscope stelle in the presentation.

In the downstairs multi-purpose room, there are movie/DVD/video presentations in four different languages. The open-closed lounges of the room which will host various activities at different times look to the southern landscape.

The upper exhibition space is evaluated as one mass with the inner courtyard at the North and a large furnice that can be percepted both from inner space and outer space is placed to the center. King Antiochos&rsquo Nomos is presented here as Turkish and English and original dimension replicas of Nomos are presented in stone masonry courtyard walls. The visitors encounter the inscription here for the first time. In the rest of the exhibitions, the story of Nemrut Dag Tumulus is explained from its discovered times.
Next to the upper exhibition halls there is sale unit where the visitors can get souvenirs peciluar to vicinity. Rest areas, cafeteria and terrace are placed oriented to the landscape with an interrelating order. In those spaces where it is arranged that the visitors can rest and eat between the sunrise and sunset, they wait for re-climbing to the Tumulus.


Malatya Visitor Center is positioned in the arrival direction of Malatya to Nemrut Dag Tumulus in order to inform and meet the needs of visitors. The building which is approximately in 2km northeast of Tumulus, is the last vehicle access point from Malatya. The building is a one storey structure that has the same architectural language and approach with Adıyaman Visitor Center that is about spatial speculation, circulation, façade organization, relationship with light and environment.
The application projects of visior centers were done by SAYKA İnşaat Mimarlık Müh. Müş. Tic. Ltd. Şti. The projects are approved by the Sanliurfa Cultural and Natural Assets Regional Preservation Council on 30 December 2009.

Throne of the gods: On Mount Nemrut, a king raised massive statues as personal monument

If there is something that Turkey does not lack, it’s history. The country is astonishingly rich in sites from ancient times, including such places as Ephesus City in Selcuk and the many ancient ruins of Antalya, the Lycian way, Miletus, Priene, and Apollo Temple.

The territory of the Anatolian peninsula, or Asia Minor, where modern-day Turkey is situated, has been a precious link between Asia and Europe for as long as civilizations have existed, so it comes as no surprise that this region is one of the oldest in the world to be continuously inhabited.

A mountain adorned with the fragments of vast statues built over 2000 years ago. Author:Klaus-Peter Simon CC BY-SA3.0

Built by King Antiochus I in 62 BC it is thought to be a sanctuary and a royal tomb Author:Klearchos Kapoutsis CC BY-SA2.0

Of the many historical sites in Turkey, a unique one is located deep in the Anatolian heartland. It’s definitely worth every single mile, as it is considered the 8th Wonder of the Ancient World.

Heads of statues at the top of the mountain. Author:Urszula Ka CC BY-SA3.0

Known as Mount Nemrut (or Nemrut Dagi in Turkish), the 7,000-foot-tall mountain houses a historical site unlike any other in the country. Notable for its ancient tomb and temple complex, which includes numerous massive statues of Greek and Persian gods, the stunning site was constructed by King Antiochus I in 62 BC and is today considered to be the most significant monument of the Kingdom of Commagene.

Persian Eagle God. Author:Klearchos Kapoutsis CC BY 2.0

Lion head. The Lion was the sacred animal of the Commagene Kingdom. Photo Credit Author: Klearchos Kapoutsis CC BY2.0

Heads of Antiochus I Theos of Commagene and Zeus Oromasdes. Author:r Klearchos Kapoutsis CC BY2.0

Left – Zeus Oromasdes. Photo Credit Right – Heracles Artagnes Ares. Author:Klearchos Kapoutsis CC BY2.0

After the sudden death of Alexander the Great and the fall of his empire that stretched from Greece and Macedonia to India, many new kingdoms were created, and one of these was the Commagene kingdom, a small, independent kingdom in southern Anatolia.

The pattern of damage to the heads suggests that they were deliberately damaged because of belief in iconoclasm. . Author:Klearchos Kapoutsis CC BY2.0

King Antiochus I, who reigned over the Commagene Kingdom from 70 BC to 36BC, is probably best known for creating a royal cult for the worship of himself and for the fact that he is often depicted in the company of Greek and Eastern deities with whom he claimed to have been closely connected.

The statues appear to have Greek-style facial features, but Persian clothing and hairstyling. . Author:onur kocatas CC BY2.0

This rather eccentric ancient king traced his descent to Alexander the Great on his mother’s side and to Darius the Great on his father’s side and clearly wanted to leave a lasting legacy like his famed ancestors did, so he ordered the construction of the now famous complex at Mount Nemrut.

Goddess of Kommagene Author:Klearchos Kapoutsis CC BY2.0

The king chose this particular location because he wanted the complex to be closer to the gods, hoping that he would also be forever remembered as the king who built such a magnificent religious sanctuary.

The statues have not been restored to their original positions. Author:onur kocatas CC BY2.0

Made up of 50,000 cubic meters of gravel, Mount Nemrut measures at an impressive 164 feet in height, and covers an area of no less than 492 feet in diameter. From what we can see, it is easy to conclude that it took quite a long time and an impressive number of laborers before the complex was finished.

Sometimes referred to as the Throne of the Gods, the site consisted of three terraces on the east, north, and west sides, all of them surrounded by colossal statues of Greek and Persian gods, including ones of Apollo and Zeus.

Head of Zeus-Oromasdes statue. Author:China_Crisis CC BY SA2.5

Over the centuries, the statues have all lost their heads, which fell off to the lower level due to frequent earthquakes in the region, or because of iconoclasm. Experts claim that they once stood 30 feet high and that their creation was clearly influenced by both Greek and Persian art, as the independent kingdom of Commagene was located between the two great civilizations.

Souvenirs. Author:Klearchos Kapoutsis CC BY2.0

Nonetheless, these impressive statues were lost over time, only to be rediscovered in 1881 by Karl Sester, a German road engineer. Soon, a team of German archaeologists arrived on the site, but it took some 70 years before archaeological activity actually began.

Since 1987, Mount Nemrut has been on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List and in 1988, it was established as a National Park.

A Guide for The Mystery Mountain: Nemrut

The fascinating and scary funerary mound of King Antiochus I of the Kingdom of Commagene sits atop this 2,150-meter peak. Under the 50-meter-high, man-made burial mound, Antiochus’ tomb is said to be concealed. Though, despite extensive archaeological work here, his tomb has never been found. However, on top of the mound is one of eastern Turkey’s prime tourist attractions.

The spectacular terraces here are littered with the toppled remnants of giant stone statues. They once majestically lined up to celebrate Antiochus’ own glory and the glory of the gods.

If you only have time for a short journey into eastern Turkey and have to pick one sight to see, Mount Nemrut can’t be beaten. The mountain is about 43 kilometres from Kahta, Adıyaman province. You should witness for sunrise on the summit. This experience is going to be the true magic of the setting.

Note that due to snow closing the road to the summit, the mountain is only accessible from around May to October. Also, be aware that from the summit car park to the funerary terraces, there is a 600-meter uphill walk.

A Brief History of Mount Nemrut

This region and so Mount Nemrut found itself right on the border between the two giant rivals. It was during the days of the competing Roman and Parthian (Persian) Empires. Formerly part of the Roman Empire, Commagene and its governor, Mithridates I, declared independence.

When Mithridates I died in 64 BC, his son Antiochus I claimed the crown. After that, he took his tiny kingdom’s independence further. For this purpose, he signed treaties with both Rome and the Parthians. It was actions such as these that led Antiochus to believe Commagene (and himself) to be more important than they actually were. And eventually led to his downfall, when he was deposed by the Romans in 38 BC.

A General View For The Mount Nemrut Archaeological Site

The most complete statuary are on the East Terrace. Although the statues have all lost their giant heads, which now sit incongruously on the ground beside the bodies. The colossal figures of the gods face the main altar.

In addition to eagle and lion representation, there are also Greco-Persian deities here. For example, Zeus Oromasdes, Heracles-Verethragna-Artagnes-Ares. Others are Apollo-Mithras-Helios-Hermes and Commagene-Tyche. Antiochus I himself is represented here as well. The statues are flanked by broken reliefs depicting Antiochus’ lineage. On the northern side, the relief shows his Persian (paternal) ancestors. While to the north, the relief shows his Seleucid (maternal) ancestors.

On the West Terrace, most of the statues damaged over time, but the heads have not suffered the same fate. And moreover, they are wonderfully lifelike and they are in good shape. When you visit the site, you can see the Lion Horoscope with its astral motifs. They are symbolizing the deification of Antiochus I through the metamorphosis of the king into a star.

A Magnificent Sunrise in the Mount Nemrut

One of the essential rituals of visiting Mount Nemrut is enjoying the sunrise. And visitors must do it from the summit. King Antiochus, revering his ancestors in Western and Eastern civilisations, erected giant statues of gods on the East and West terraces. Furthermore, they cited their names both in Persian and Greek. So visitors enjoy watching the unique sunrise together with the statues of gods. The gods, by the way, have been witnessing it for two thousand years.

How to Go to the Mount Nemrut?

The Mount Nemrut Tumulus is in Kahta county which is 86 km east of Adıyaman city. There are many flights to Adiyaman Airport from Istanbul and Ankara. The best season for the ascent to the Mount is the period between April and October.

You can see the map below. Or, you can click the link to go to see the location of Mount Nemrut.

Where to stay near Mount Nemrut for Sightseeing

There are several options for places to stay in Mount Nemrut. In this respect, Adiyaman, Kahta, and Malatya are the nearest towns. Of the three, Kahta is the closest but Adiyaman (86 kilometres from Mount Nemrut) has the best selection of accommodation. If you have a rental car, all three are a decent base from which to head to Mount Nemrut. If you want to be nearer, the tiny village of Karadut sits right at the foot of the mountain and has a range of small guesthouses, all of which offer sunrise tours and transport to the summit.

  • Adiyaman: The Hilton Garden Inn is a contemporary hotel. The hotel offers the most modern accommodation for miles around. It has an outdoor pool, gym, sauna facilities, a restaurant, and bright, minimalist-style rooms with city views.
  • Karadut:Karadut Pansiyon is a family-run guesthouse. It is just 10 kilometres away from the summit. The rooms are basic but comfortable moreover, they also offer breakfast (you can also ask for dinner and lunch). On the other hand, the staff here can organize transport and tours to the summit. And as well as to the many other archaeological sites in the Mount Nemrut area.

Mount Nemrut is one of the 8 wonders of the world. What’s more, it has been in the World Heritage List of UNESCO since 1986.