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Archaeologists to Restore 2,000-year-old Statues in Anatolia


News Category: Post-Achaemenian Period

 09 June 2003


An international team of archaeologists will soon start restoration work on the summit of Mount Nimrud in eastern Anatolia, where colossal 2,000-year-old statues of the ancient gods have suffered from airborne pollution, the head of the project said.

Hermen Brijder, a Dutch archaeologist, said that the project, which will include restoration, rescue and conservation work, was expected to take up to eight years.

The site, in the eastern province of Adiyaman, was constructed by Commagene ruler Antiochus I, (69-34 B.C.) who believed he descended from Apollo and Achaemenid Emperors.

About 200,000 cubic meters were cut away by hand from the top of the mountain to make an artificial platform, where the king built a statue of himself alongside those of Apollo/Mithra, Ahura Mazda/Zeus, Tyche and other ancient Iranian and Greek gods.

The 10 monuments are 10 meters (30-feet) high and made from stone blocks weighing six tons. The gigantic heads, along with a number of reliefs and inscriptions, now lie scattered at the peak of the mountain -- 2,150 meters high -- forming an impressive scene, which some have called the 8th wonder of the world.

Brijder said they planned to repair some of the sculptures, while others would be transferred to a museum to preserve them from the destructive impact of airborne pollution.

The remains, which have been damaged both by time and careless visitors, were placed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO in 1987 as one of the most ambitious constructions of the Ancient period following the break-up of Alexander's empire

Archaeologists believe that the tomb of Antiochus I is also located at the site and expect it to be as important and rich as those of the Egyptian Pharaohs.



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