Turkey, statue restoration in Mount Nemrut

This is how one of the statues of Mount Nemrut in Turkey was saved

A team of experts carried out on Mount Nemrut, a World Heritage Site, a job to save the statue representing Heracles.

One of the more than 2,000-year-old statues that decorates the impressive Mount Nemrut, the mountain-shaped tomb built by order of King Antiochus in the 1st century BC, has been saved in a two-day operation after earthquakes, snow and thaws tipped it to the point that it was in danger of falling.

With the help of a rope restraint system, the statue representing Heracles could be straightened by about 30 centimetres and placed under the same filling material to stabilise it, the teams involved in the complicated operation reported to the media this week. They were members from the Directorate of Museums of the Adıyaman province, and the Regional Agency for Restoration and Conservation of the neighbouring province of Gaziantep.

As an anecdote, during the operation a necklace and a phone booth token from the 1980s were found buried under the statue; those responsible for the operation believe that the token could have accidentally been dropped 40 years ago by one of the archaeologists who were investigating Mount Nemrut at that time.

Located 2,134 meters high in the Adıyaman province of southeastern Turkey, Mount Nemrut – Nemrut Dağı, in Turkish – is an artificial burial mound built as a tomb during the ancient Kingdom of Commagene. In 1987 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Discovered in 1881, the burial mound is 50 metres high

It was a Prussian general who in 1881, touring the Taurus mountains in Anatolia, heard some shepherds speak of an enigmatic mountain full of statues of people and animals; intrigued by the history, he ascended the place and came across an immense burial mound more than 50 meters high, built by human hands with small stacked stones and next to which there were huge statues.

Some of these statues of Mount Nemrut in Turkey reach 5 metres in height; originally attached to the bodies, today you can see the heads – detached by numerous earthquakes throughout the centuries – corresponding to gods and human beings who were deified by King Antiochus I: Heracles, Zeus, Fortuna, Apollo, Mitra, Helios , Hermes, Alexander the Great, or Antiochus himself.