Nemrut Mountain, Adiyaman

Topping the karst limestone mountain of Nemrut Dagi (2150m/7056ft) in the south-eastern Taurus 90km/56 miles north-east of Adiyaman is the Hierothosion of the Kommagene King Antiochus I (69-38 B.C.), dedicated to his own glory and that of the gods.

Antiochus’ tomb is concealed somewhere inside the 50m/164ft high man-made burial mound, with its spectacular terraces on three sides (east, north and west). The 80m/260ft long north terrace, lined with (collapsed) columns, served as a place of assembly and arena for processions and other rituals.

On either side of the east terrace stand relieves of the King’s ancestors, paternal (Persian) to the north, maternal (Seleucid) to the south, framing the colossal figures of the gods (heads standing on the ground) facing the main altar. These include, in addition to eagles and lions, the Greco-Persian mixed deities Zeus - Oromasdes, Hercules - Verethragna - Artagnes - Ares, Apollo - Mithras - Helios - Hermes and Kommagene - Tyche, as well as Antiochus I himself.

A similar arrangement is repeated on the west terrace, which is some 10m/33ft lower than the east. Here the heads of the colossal statues are better preserved and there are also more of them. The "Lion Horoscope" with its astral motifs symbolizes the deification of Antiochus I through the metamorphosis of king into star.