The Heads of Kings and Gods
Trip Start Nov 14, 2007
92Trip End Apr 20, 2009
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Nemrut Dagi is actually a burial mound, or Tumulus, for King Antiochus I at the top of a mountain in south east Turkey. It is a steep 6km climb to the top from the park entrance, where nearby we have camped. The Tumulus itself is actually a 'false summit' - a pile of stones which King Antiochus' subjects carried to the top. It is an immense mound of rocks- you can't help but think of the poor buggers bringing this lot up here.
Anyways, On the West and East sides of the Tumulus are interesting ruins of throned Gods flanked by pediments which once supported detailed freizes depicting ancestral themes. Only some of these friezes remain on the site and the large 'heads' no longer sit on the be-throned bodies as they had apparently tumbled off during an earthquake or perhaps 'detached' by auto-decapitation. For some reason none of the local literature entertains the possibility that the site's current state has something to do with iconoclastic Muslims.
But moving right along: The heads represent Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Herakles and the man who made it all possible, King Antiochus himself, and look stoically to the horizon in neat arrangement from albeit diminished heights (you could rest a beer on top of Zeus's head, for instance) while everything around them remains in ruinous chaos. It makes a very picturesque view.
We were fortunate that despite the grim weather on offer, our hour spent on the summit was the only sunshine of the day. Out of the sun the air bit cold.
We ate a packed lunch below the peak in a frosty wind before heading down the mountain on foot. Just like on the way up, after walking part of the way, a friendly passer-by stopped and insisted on a lift which we happily obliged.
It gets dark here very early with the sun setting around 4.30pm so Christina and I tucked into our tent around 6.00pm and started our lesson on "Regular Italian Verbs Ending in -are" for an 8.00pm lights out.
Incidentally, the tent has been great- it gets us up-close and personal with the land and its many loiterers. This morning we awoke to the sound of heavy machinery and peered out of the fly to see a tractor ploughing neatly around our tent on all sides. It was a nice way to wake up- knowing that though your sleep was disturbed, Your life won out over 3 square metres of wheat at harvest. Victory to the humans!
ps. the photos for this post have been taken by our Chinese friends Quen and Xiu Lien who accompanied us on our trip to the top of Nemrut Dagi. Big thanks to them!