Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gods of Mt. Nemrut

Day 17, (April 16, 2013) of our OAT's Turkey's Sacred lands and Ancient Civilizations Tour. We drive from Gaziantep to Mount Nemrut.

Mount Nemrut is one of Turkey's most breathtaking destinations and a UNESCO world Heritage Site.We were all excited to go and had been watching the weather forecast for two days. It didn't look good--rain, thunderstorms, snow, wind and hail! 

The ride was long but interesting.

Pistachio tree in the foreground with blossoms and emerging leaves

Land that looked like Ireland with piled-up stone walls

Land that looked like Georgia (US) with red soil

Land that was 99% rock

Climbing the Mountain

Our bus climbed steadily up the 7,001 ft. mountain. When we arrived at the little warming hut where our hike was to start we were in the clouds.. Should be even make the climb? The trail was about 0.6 mile up a well-built but very slippery path.

The clouds increased as we went up.
Several people muttered that they didn't come all this way not to try...  Nurdan, our guide, cautioned us on the risks and gave us tips such as "Stay together!". So those who wanted to make the climb set off into the fog.
Starting off

The trail was lined with hoar-frosted vegetation.

The Gods

We clattered up the rock trail until we took a left turn and there it was! Mysterious and shrouded in fog was SOMETHING BIG.

Antiochus I of the Kingdom of Commagne erected a temple and gigantic statues of both himself and ancient gods atop Mt. Nemrut in the first century B.C.. Was he uniting his multi-faith kingdom while gaining immortality for himself? We don't know.

Originally the Gods sat entrained, looking out over the slope. At some point their heads were knocked off and were found lying about when the site was excavated by German archeologists in 1883.

You can see the feet, and legs of both figures seated upon their thrones. The torso and hands of the right figure are also intact.
The thrones with heads placed below

right side

left side

After marveling at this statues, looking like they  may have been dropped from an alien spaceship, we started down to the warming hut.

The descent

Easy for a few steps, on the flat, then the grade increased. The rocks have been polished over the years by countless feet and were very slippery. At least, that's what I think has happened to make the descent so treacherous. I had no confidence in my boots (Keen's, no less) and eased my way down.

The wind picked up and drove the pellets of snow into our eyes and stung our faces. It was like a stormy day of skiing without goggles! In a few minutes the landscape went from brown to white.

Snow packed into the sunshield of my camera and began to obscure the lens. Only the center was clear.

This is great fun!
I couldn't see anything and took off my glasses. Then I REALLY could not see anything. Taking pictures was like photographing in the dark--just point and shoot in the general direction.
Oops, missed! This nonsensical photo is Tim (left) cleaning his glasses.

As happens in the mountains, the storm abated as quickly as it had begun; blue sky appeared and we saw the warming hut.

 Once inside we enjoyed a picnic lunch. Nurdan grilled sausage for us in the warming hut's kitchen.

Our picnic lunch among the flat-woven rugs.

I cleaned my camera, removing all the packed-in snow and drying the lens. However the lens didn't warm up to room temp fbefore we lefts, so that all of my pictures are foggy from condensation.

We retreated from the mountain in a warm bus wishing that we had arrived a half hour later to hike in the sunshine, but glad we had not been on the summit during the hail and sleet and snow.

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