Exploring the Fallen Idols of Turkey’s Mount Nemrut

For more photos and videos from Mount Nemrut, explore the Nemrut Dağı | Mount Nemrut location page.

In the mountainous southeastern region of Turkey, one peak stands out above the rest. Nemrut Dağı, or Mount Nemrut, ascends over 7,000 feet (2,130 meters) into the sky, and at its peak explorers will find the scattered stone heads of what are thought to be ancient gods.

After the fall of the Seleucid Empire in 190 BCE, a host of successors emerged throughout the region surrounding the Taurus mountains. One such successor state, Commagene, ruled over many diverse cultures and religions. Their leader, Antiochus I, brought these beliefs together into a single imperial cult. The monuments at the top of Mount Nemrut depict the various gods in a blend of regional artistic styles and are thought to have adorned the still-undiscovered tomb of Antiochus I.

The statues lie toppled, defaced and strewn about the weathered mountaintop, suggesting that they were purposefully destroyed at the time of Commagene’s fall.

The site was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.