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Kahta

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Mount Nemrut Statues

Kahta is in Eastern Anatolia.

Kahta, on lake Ataturk is a good base to explore the area and Mount Nemrut from.

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Mount Nemrut (Nemrut dagi)

Mount Nemrut: Head from statue

The Mount Nemrut tomb-sanctuary was probably built for king Antiochus Theos of Kommagene who believed he was a descendant of Apollo, in the first part of the first century BC. The main feature is a tumulus (tomb hill) about 50 meters high, underneath which it is thought, the tomb itself is located. It is also thought that it will be as rich as any of the tombs of Egypt.

However, you have to be prepared to get up early (at about 2.30) if you want to see the sunrise. It's quite a distance from the mountain and it's best if you have your own transport or arrange a guided tour.

Around the Tumulus are two main terraces; the big eastern terrace, and the smaller western terrace. These might have been used for religeous and other ceremonies due to the astronomical and religeous nature of the monument. A bas-relief has been found on the western terrace of a lion and the planets Mars, Jupiter and Mercury as they would have been on july 7, 62 BCE, the possible starting date of the complex' construction.

Big seated statues, 8 to 9 meters high of Antiochus himself, Hercules, Zeus-Orosmasdes (associated with the Persian god Ahura-Mazda) and a few other greek and Persian deieties along with two lions and two eagles, line these terraces. Since their erection, the heads have toppeled from the bodies which remain at their original positions and lay scattered throughout the site. In more recent times they have been put back at their assumed original positions (albeit without the bodies) so they can once again face the sunrise and sunset. The arrangement of the statues (or in this case heads) is known as a hierothesion.

Currently, restoration work is being done on the statues which will continue until at least 2010. There are also plans to move at least some of the monuments to a museum.

The Summit is 2150 meter above sea level and provides a great view of the surrounding mountains and even Ataturk lake. The main attraction is to watch the sunrise from the eastern terrace which give the bodyless heads a beautyful orange hue and adds to the sense of mystery of the place.

If going up Nemrut to see the sunrise, bring warm clothing with you because it can get cold up there (even in summer) since the summit is at about 2150 meters.


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