Unearthing the Mysteries of Nemrut Dağ, Turkey’s Easter Island

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Easter Island isn’t the only place in the world with massive, mysterious and ancient stone faces. On the highest peak of eastern Turkey’s Taurus mountains, sits Nemrut Dağ. In 62 B.C., King Antiochus I Theos of Commagene ordered the construction of this site—which contains a temple, a tomb and a house of gods—to commemorate himself.

image/text credit: Great Big Story

The tomb is flanked by 30-foot statues of the king, as well as pairs of lions, eagles and various gods. At one point, the heads of these sculptures sat on top of the stone bodies, but they now lie scattered throughout the site.

image/text credit: Great Big Story

Lost for centuries, Nemrut Dağ was excavated in 1883. Now, it sits as a testament to an ancient culture and the grand ambitions of a self-obsessed king.

image/text credit: Great Big Story

The name is a relatively modern one, dating back to the Middle Ages. In Armenian legend, Hayk defeated the Biblical king Nimrod (equated with Bel) and buried him in these mountains.

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Nemrut is most likely to have received its name from an Armenian tradition in which Nimrod was killed by an arrow by Hayk during a massive battle between two rival armies of giants to the south-east of Lake Van.

His kingdom was no more than a minor buffer state between the Roman and Persian empires, but Antiochus believed he was definitely big-league stuff, so he had his own huge statue seated with “his equals,” the gods.

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