The world’s best sunrise takes place in Nemrut. You already know this. Well, do you know the reason behind?
One of the reasons is undoubtedly the enchanting atmosphere of the giant sculptures looking partly to the east and part to the west at the peak of Mount Nemrut, the region’s highest spot. Here the story of this sunrise lies in the secret of these giant statues.
This archaeological site on top of Mount Nemrut is actually a king’s grave: Antiochus I.
The most important characteristic of the Kingdom of Commagene, surrounded by Cilicia in the west and Cappadocia in the north, was its hold on various junction points in the Toros Mountains, i.e., its geopolitical significance. Having pursued wise foreign policies between the Roman and Parthia Empires, this kingdom survived for many years despite its small size thanks to this diplomacy. And the period of King I. Antiochus represents the golden years of the Commagene Kingdom. Antiochus gets a grave place on top of Mount Nemrut to immortalize his name. These giant statues are the remnants of this graveyard. Well, why are there so many sculptures and what was the reason for putting them here?
The name of the Kingdom of Commagene means a group of genes in Greek. The roots of the founder Kallinikos have his origins in Darius, the great Persian king on his father’s side, and in Alexander the Great on his mother’s. And the period of King Antiochus I is the peak of this intersection in the Kingdom of Commagene, which combined the Ancient Greek and Persian cultures not only with its founder but also with all cultural elements. This king has the dream of combining gods of Greek and Persian religions, deifying himself and establishing a new religion and a power center around it. And of course, he gets this splendid temple built on the Nemrut Hill, regarded as sacred part in the region. He gets the statues of eagles and lions as the cultural icons of paradise and nobility placed at the the beginning of the two rows of sculptures and then the statues of the gods of the two religions one looking at the Persian land in the east and the other looking at the Greek land on the west, and of course his own statute. Behind these sculptures are his laws, his will, and his own grave on the cumulus on the hill.
It is certain that the dream of King Antiochus I did not come true. But the dream of combining these cultures, even with the remnants, is still very impressive today with sculptural remains on the eastern and western terraces, which were built for the ceremonies.
Therefore, when you know the story, you understand that the beauty of the sunrise in Nemrut comes from not only the color and shadows created by the first lights of the day but also Commagene King Antiochus’s great peaceful and unifying dream. I wish that, when we wake up one morning, the humanity witnesses a sunrise as peaceful as in this dream and as beautiful as in Nemrut.
by MURAT OZBILGI