Mt Nemrut tour is one of the most prominent adventures into Anatolian history. On the mountain top at an elevation of 2150 m you will be astounded to see an artificially formed mountain peak of crushed stone. Under this peak is believed to rest in peace King Antiochus.
Around this peak you will find terraces where huge statues of Apollo, Heracles, Zeus, Fortuna and Antiochus I, King of Commagene standing in splendour. The site was established as the sacred burial site for the Commagene Kings.
If you can make it up to the summit you can enjoy watching spectacular displays of sun rise and sun set from these terraces, Once up there make sure that you do not miss this phenomenon. Depending on the season, temperatures could be shivering cold, but have no doubts that your trip will be worth for having unforgettable memories.
Commagene Kingdom was a melting pot of eastern and western cultures.Their kings especially King Mithridates did a great deal to smooth cultural differences. Each year he organized olympic games in honour of his ancestors. He was one of the participants, which made him popular amongst his people. In many contests he was victories and as a result he was given honourable name 'Kallinikos. This means literally 'He who triumphs beautifully'.
Mithridates married a Seleucid princess, named Laodice. They had three daughters and after having their fourth daughter, they fell in despair of ever having a son. This was very important, as without a son there was no heir to the throne, so the stability of the kingdom would be threatened. The joy and relief when Laodice bore a son was immense. He was given the name of the father of Laodice, Antiochus.
Mithridates was succeeded by his son Antiochus who was of mixed blood. On his mothers side, queen Laodice, he was from the lineage of Alexander the Great. While on his father's side, he descended from the Persian 'King of Kings', Darius I. At a young age a marriage was arranged for him with a Seleucid princess named Isias Philostorgos, 'the Beloved One'. This was more politically oriented than love for the protection of Commagene Kingom.
Mithridates abdicated the throne in favor of his son though he stayed by his side. Both father and son planned and built the sanctuary on top of Mount Nemrut. The sanctuary was to be the spiritual centre of the treaty with the gods. Antiochus had ideals. The sanctuary would promote the culmination of a new religion with Mount Nemrut as the centre from where his name and fame would radiate all over the world. After his coronation he soon called himself Theos (God), the originator of this new religion.
After the occupation of Pergamon Romans conquered Anatolian kingdoms one by one. At the same time Parthians were making advances from the east. They soon reached territories of Commagene and ready to confront Romans. In 70 BC. Romans inflicted a severe blow to their greatest opponents, the kingdom of Pontus. To complete their conquest, Romans made a swift advance to conquer the last independent kingdom, Commagene which was no match to their super power. Around 69 B.C. Samosata, the capital of Commagene, was besieged. Samosata resisted Roman forces but in the end a meeting was held between the Roman consul Lucullus and King Antiochus I. The Romans withdrew and left Commagene Kingdom as abuffer zone between themselves and powerful Parthians. However, Romans conquests did not stop in 64 B.C. they crushed Seleucid kingdom to the ground.
Antiochus died in these turmoil years. Antiochus was laid to rest in the sanctuary on the Nemrut probably next to the tomb of his father. The succession passed to Mithridates II who could not continue his independence and eventually he lost his kingdom to Romans and Commagene became a part of the province of Syria.
Under King Antiochus IV. Commagene became independent for the last time though only for a short while. Romans had no mercy they crushed Commagene forces in 71AD. After that the small Commagene army was disbanded and its dreaded archers and heavily armoured cavalry were absorbed into the Roman legions as the 'cohortes Comagenorum'.
The gods wear in Persian fashion. The head of the Goddess Commagene (Tyche)is decorated with a crown of fruits.