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Nemrut Dagi: The mountain where human desire to become a god lies asleep
The world is a collection of traces left by human desires. Human's big and small desires to fill what they lack and get what they cannot have have proven their reality with sometimes high towers and sometimes huge structures. In southeastern Anatolia, Turkey, somewhere in this vast and barren land, humans invariably left traces of desire. Considered one of the most magical places in Turkey, Nemrut Dagi, a human being's desire for immortality, sleeps.
Leaving Malatya, full of apricot scent, headed for Nemrut Dagi. A huge Toros mountain range that runs through the center of Anatolia, with countless peaks rising above it, but Nemrut Dagi is not just a mountain. This is because this is a huge tomb where the desires of a man who owned an ancient kingdom about 2000 years ago were buried.
In the first century BC, on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers there was an ancient kingdom called the Kingdom of Commagene. It is a kingdom that left a short but intense history before being absorbed by Rome in 72 AD.
King Antiochus I, who led the heyday of Commagene, was a human who dreamed of becoming a god by claiming himself as Apollo's successor. Antiochus I believed that all gods exist in the sky, so after death he hoped that his body would be buried in the nearest place to the sky.
He began to build his own tomb on the summit of Nemrut Dagi, a place with a panoramic view of the Anatolian Plateau and the Euphrates River. A pyramid-shaped tomb was built to cover the peaks of the mountain with gravel, and an altar was built around the tomb. And he built a huge statue and guardian statue to protect it. Thus, Nemrut Dagi became a tomb and sanctuary of human beings escorted by the gods.
A steep mountain path heading to the summit of 2150m above sea level. You can entered the eastern terrace, the appearance of giant gods appeared. On the 9m high altar, the five gods all sit without faces with their hands neatly on their knees.
The heads of those who have been cut off stand neatly under their respective bodies, as if trying to reveal their identity.
Turned around the tomb and headed to the west terrace on the other side. While the eastern terrace is relatively tidy, the western terrace is reminiscent of a battlefield. Would it look like this if the end came to Mount Olympus where the gods lived, the heads of the gods scattered in disorder, the destroyed fragments piled up here and there? Nemrut Dagi's appearance, as you've heard, was astounding and grotesque.
In fact, no one knew about Nemrut Dagi's existence until the late 19th century. It was first discovered by German engineer Karl Sester in 1881, but it wasn't long before the excavation began. In 1981, a full-scale archaeological investigation was conducted, and in recognition of its value, it was named as a World Heritage Site in 1987.
What is as mysterious as the 60-ton megalithic statue on a remote mountain peak is the tomb of Antiochus I. His tomb is huge enough to increase the altitude of the mountain by 75 m (now 50 m), and is completely hidden in gravel piled up by crushing rocks. It is believed that the remains of King Antiochus I are inside, but to date no archaeological investigation has confirmed the interior of the mausoleum. In other words, the authenticity of whether Antiochus was actually buried here is also unknown.
His body is indefinite, but his vision for immortality was left naked. The protagonists of the gods, who are huge enough to exceed the height of a saint, are familiar Greek and Persian gods such as Zeus-Oromasdes, Apollon-Mitra, Hercules-Artagnes, and Tike, the goddess of the kingdom of Commanege.
This intact represents the unique culture of Commagene, which was double influenced by Persia and Macedonian kingdoms (Greece). Among the gods is also the owner of the tomb, Antiochus I. In addition, the area around the tomb is filled with reliefs that engrave the image of Antiochus himself shaking hands with the gods, and inscriptions praising his achievements and the greatness of Commanege. It is a scene that shows the desire of King Antiochus, who deified himself, without addition or subtraction.
He built a tomb with a desire close to delusion, but as if making fun of it, the gods collapsed helplessly by the earthquake and rolled over the mountain. The sun began to fall. You can sat on one side and watched the panoramic view of the Anatolian Plateau and the sunset spreading over it. Antiochus I would also have stood here and gazed at his kingdom beneath his feet. The rolling hills like waves, the flowing Euphrates river, and the red sunset that all shines brightly. And these landscapes would have given him the belief that this is the highest and most beautiful place in the world. After a moment of sunset, a long night hurried to Nemrut Dag. I think while looking at Antiochus' face, who does not close his eyes even in the pitch-black darkness. What was the immortality he dreamed of?