The Ruins of Mount Nemrut are located within the borders of the Kahta District of Adıyaman. King Antiochus I of Commagene let build these tombs and monumental statues, which are the most spectacular ruins of the Hellenistic Period, at the summit of Mount Nemrut (Nemrut Dağı), at 2206 m, to show his gratitude to the deities and his ancestors. Monumental sculptures are placed at the east, west and north terraces. The well-preserved giant statues made of limestone and sandstone blocks are 8-10 meters high.
Mount Nemrut Tumulus
Although its original height was 55 meters, the height of the tumulus decreased to 50 meters due to nature and human influence throughout hundreds of years. It was formed by accumulated loose rocks and has a total volume of 30 thousand cubic meters. The tumulus is known as the tomb of King Antiochus I of Commagene.
Mount Nemrut and its East Terrace
There are about 10 meters high giant statues of kings and gods sitting in rows on thrones. The faces of the statues look towards the sun. The statues of the eagles, which represent the sovereignty over the sky, the lions, which represent the kingdom’s domination on earth, and the statues of King Antiochus I of Commagene, goddess Commagene (Tyche-Bakht), Zeus (Oromastes), Apollo-Mithras, and Heracles-Artagnes, are placed on this terrace.
Behind the thrones is the religious and social will of King Antiochus (Nomos), which consists of 234 lines. On the west and the south of the terrace there are the relief-stelae of Persian kings of the Commagene Kingdom. There is also a fire altar in front of the statues and a lion statue sitting next to it. You can watch the sunrise from this terrace of the Mount Nemrut.
Mount Nemrut and its West Terrace
There are giant statues of deities sitting on their thrones, the statue of the King Antiochus I of Commagene, and relief-figures of deities shaking hands, similar to the ones at the West and East Terrace of Mount Nemrut.
Around the terrace, there are also relief stelae of Macedonian kings of the Commagene Kingdom. Since these relief-figures made of sand stone were affected by natural conditions, some of them were moved to a restoration laboratory, which was built temporarily on the northern terrace in 2003. In addition to these reliefs, there is also the slab of the Leo. The relief indicates the date 7th of July 62 BCE. This work is considered the world’s oldest astrological calendar and the date, clearly reveals the beginning of the reign of King Antiochus. You can watch the sunset from this terrace of the Mount Nemrut.
Perrhe Ancient City
Perrhe is located 3 kilometers north of the city centre. In ancient sources it was named Me’arath Gazze Pörön, and Pirin and Perin in Mesopotamia. The city was one of the five largest cities of the Kingdom of Commagene (163 BCE - 72 CE). It is located on the route between Malatya (Melitene) and the capital city of Commagene, called Samsat (Samosata), which increased the geopolitical importance of the city.
The city of Perrhe was a place where armies, caravans and soldiers could take a break because of the beautiful and delicious water flowing from its fountain. The fountain is still used by the people today. Perrhe maintained its importance throughout the Roman Period, due to its ancient roads over the Taurus.
In 325, a delegation led by Bishop Ioannes Perdos attended the Biblical assembly that convened in İznik, which was a city of the Persidas State. A letter from Andreas (Elexandar) of Samosata to Alexander the Great reporting about some important bishops in Perrhe in 433 CE, shows that the city was also of religious importance. All of these show that Ancient City Perrhe (Perre Antik Kenti) was a city of both religious and geopolitical importance during Antiquity.
The thousands of tomb chambers and galleries in the Necropolis area of the Ancient City, which is partially excavated, fascinate the visitors. The workshops located next to the necropolis consist of olive oil, wine and textile manufactories.
The mausoleum built at a point overlooking the whole region can be seen easily from all sides. The tumulus has a diameter of 110 meters and a height of 21 meters and is covered with stones brought from the Kâhta Stream (Kahta Çayı). The Tumulus was built in a conical style and looks like an artificial hill. Today, the tumulus is partially covered with soil and cut crushed stones.
The Karakuş Tumulus (Karakuş Tümülüsü) takes its name from the 2.54 m high magnificent eagle statue standing on a column in the south. The eagle is the messenger of Zeus, the greatest ancient diety, and at the same time symbolizes the dominance of Commagene over the sky.
The Karakuş tumulus was built by Mithridates II (36-21 BCE), the son of Antiochus I, for his mother Isias. The tomb contains the graves of his mother Isias, and his sisters Leodike, Antiochis, and the daughter of Antiochis, Aka.
When the tumulus was first built, it was surrounded by nine columns, in groups of three. Only four of the columns, which are 7.05 - 7.65 meters high, have remained till today.
Various artifacts belonging to the Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Seljuk and Ottoman periods are exhibited in the Adıyaman Museum. Hand-woven carpets, rugs and light rugs, men’s and women’s clothing, silver jewellery and copper items from the region are exhibited in the Hall of Ethnographic Works of the museum.
The castle is located in the Oymaklı Village of the Gerger District of Adıyaman. The Gerger Castle (Gerger Kalesi) is located on the west bank of the Euphrates River and was founded by Arsemes in the 3rd century BCE. The castle forms the eastern border of the Commagene Kingdom and is the control point of the crossroads over the Euphrates River (Fırat Nehri). The Gerger Castle was built on steep rocks and consists of a Lower Castle and Upper Castle. It was the first administrative centre of the Kingdom of Commagene, which at the same time served as a sacred temple.
The castle is located on a steep rock and surrounded by solid walls. On a large rock surface, there is a gigantic relief and inscriptions of King Samos (140-100 BCE), the father of the King of Commagene Mithridates Callinicus and the founder of Somosata (Samsat), which was the capital of the Ancient Commagene Kingdom.
Mor Petrus and Mor Paulus Church
The Mor Petrus and Mor Paulus Church (Mor Petrus ve Mor Paulus Kilisesi) is located in the Mara Neighbourhood in the city centre of Adıyaman. The church, which is estimated to have been built in the 4th or 5th century, was restored in 1888 and 1905 according to the Syriac inscriptions at the entrance door and inside.
The church extends in the east-west directions and has a basilica plan with three naves. The wooden altar in the apsis was built in 1890 by a Syriac masters from Urfa and was restored recently. The upper floor of the western narthex opens inwards. Today the church, also known as St. Paul’s Church, is used by the Syriac community as a metropolitan centre.
Arsameia Ancient City
Information about the ancient city of Arsameia, which was discovered in 1951, was only available after analysing the inscription found in the centre of the city. The inscription states, that the founder of Arsameia was Arsemes, a paternal ancestor of Antiochus I, who lived the first half of the 3rd century. However, most of the remains that exist today were built by Antiochus I, who named the city “Hierothesion” (sacred area). Hierothesion means the holy grave of one of the royal family.
The Arsameia Historical Site (Arsameia Ören Yeri) is built on steep cliffs, and the structures located here are accessed by a pathway used as a ceremonial road. On this road, there are relief stelae, a rock-carved monumental burial chamber, the largest inscription in Anatolia, the tunnel structure, and the remains of architectural structures at the top. These structures are named as “Ktismata” in the inscription.
The inscription in the centre of the ruins consists of 256 lines across 5 columns. Under the inscription, there is a hallway with a sacred function, which can be reached over a 158 meters long stairway. Right next to the inscription, there is a stele picturing a scene where King Antiochus I of Commagene shakes hands with deity Heracles.
It is thought that the dexiosis (handshake) reliefs, which are placed in intervals along the “Sacred Road”, the processional path, were placed to prepare the people attending the ceremony for the sacred atmosphere. Each of the flat reliefs carved in limestone, King Antiochus I is depicted shaking hands with a deity. As can be understood from these relief-pictures, King Antiochus I regards himself at the same level with the deities and describes himself as the God King.
Old Besni (Parala-Octacuscum-Bahasna)
The fate and history of Besni, which was named Octacuscum in Antiquity, was determined by the Commagene region. Besni was established at an important point at the crossroads between Commagene and Mesopotamia to Anatolia.
In the Historical Site of Besni (Besni Ören Yeri) the medieval ruins are partially preserved. Besni and its surroundings preserved its geostrategic importance during the transition of the Turks to Anatolia, throughout the Seljuk and the Ottoman Periods. The road network that connects Central Asia to Anatolia is equipped with caravansaries and madrasas. Based on coins printed in the city, Besni was an important centre of the Beylik of Dulkadir (Dulkadiroğulları Beyliği - Principality). During the Ottoman period Besni was the coin mint centre.
There are many historical buildings from mosques to churches, from bathhouses to historical bridges in the Ancient Besni Historical Site, which is also called Azim city.
It is known that the Ancient Besni Historical Site was settled continuously until the middle of the 20th century.
The Zey Caves (Zey Mağaraları) are located around the Zey Village, seven kilometres from Adıyaman city centre. There you will see settlements from the early Christian period.