The West-Terrace

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Walking further round the tumulus, you reach the West-Terrace. The sun, the moon and all the stars of the zodiac rise on your left, reaching their zenith directly in front of you, and descending to your right.

The West-Terrace is relatively small and was not suited for large gatherings. The processional way ended at the open place on the north side of the terrace. Here was the entrance to the terrace. The entrance was guarded by a monstrous lion with three heads. Walking down, you will find the monster fallen, face down.

The statues on this terrace are the same as those on the East-Terrace, but greatly surpass them in beauty. The statues are also in a less exalted position than those of the East-Terrace which look down on the people from their raised platforms.

The fallen heads of the statues have been set in front of them. The resemblance between the head of Antiochos and the god Apollo/Mithras is striking. Apollo/Mithras was the only god to whom Antiochos assigned his own priest to celebrate his rites. What made this god so special to Antiochos we do not know.

Apollo/Mithras is a combination of the Greek sun god, Apollo, and the Persian god, Mithras. The origins of Mithras are ancient. About 1,400 B.C. the god Mithras is mentioned for the first time in a treaty of the Hittites. Further, he is mentioned in the Indian Vedas as a friend of the humans. He is the mediator between the Gods and the humans. In the Vedas we can read : “Mithras ! The mortal. This honourable and friendly Mithras is born as a wise ruling king.” Mithras literally means Ally.

Each god bestowed a gift to the people of Kommagene. One of the gifts considered to be from Mithras was petroleum, for which people are searching for nowadays in this region.

The Roman soldiers were so impressed by Mithras, that he became their favourite god. The legions propagated his worship throughout the whole of the ancient world. Finally, Mithras was even worshipped in England in underground sanctuaries. Without Christ, people would probably still worship Mithras.

Opposite the statues you see a long row of pedestals, on which stood the reliefs or steles of the Greek ancestors of Antiochos. Perpendicular to this row stood another row of steles, depicting his Persian ancestors. From these steles the ones of Darius and Xerxes are well preserved. In front of each stele is a small altar. Inscriptions have been found on two of those altars. They have, for the most part, been chiseled away. These inscriptions date from earlier times.

The following scheme is an overview of the Greek and Persian ancestors who have been depicted. Because there is not much left of the steles, this overview is assumed to be most likely. Standing in front of the row of steles, you could see originally from left to right :

Pedestal Persian Ancestors
1 Darius I, King of Kings 522-486 B.C.
2 Xerxes I 486-464 B.C.
3 Artaxerxes I 464-425 B.C.
4 Darius II Ochos 425-404 B.C.
5 Artaxerxes II Mnemon 404-359 B.C.
6 Orontes I (Aroandes) 401 B.C.
7 Princess Rhodogune, married to Orontes
8 name unknown ?
9 name unknown ?
10 Samos I 250 B.C.
11 Arsames 230 B.C.
12 name unknown 223-187 B.C.
13 Ptolemaios 163-130 B.C.
14 Samos II 130-109 B.C.
15 Mithradates I Kallinikos 109-? B.C.

Much attention was given by Antiochos so that everyone would be aware that he was related to the dynasty of the King of Kings, Darius I, by the marriage of princess Rhodogune to his ancestor Orontes. The father of Rhodogune was the Persian king, Artaxerxes. In 401 B.C. he defeated his younger brother, who tried to overthrow him. Because of the help Artaxerxes received from his military commander, Orontes, he gave his daughter in marriage to him.

Pedestal Greek Ancestors
1 Alexander the Great 356-323 B.C.
2 Seleukos I Nikator 304-279 B.C.
3 Antiochos I Soter 279-262 B.C.
4 Antiochos II Theos 261-246 B.C.
5 Seleukos II Kallinikos 246-225 B.C.
6 Seleukos III Soter 225-223 B.C.
7 Antiochos III the Great 223-187 B.C.
8 Seleukos IV Philopator 187-176 B.C.
9 Antiochos IV Epiphanes 176-164 B.C.
10 Demitrios I Soter 162-150 B.C.
11 Demitrios II Nikator 145-125 B.C.
12 Princess Kleopatra Thea, married to Demitrios II
13 Antiochos VIII Grypos 125-96 B.C.
14 Princess Tryphaina, married to Antiochos VIII
15 Princess Laodike Thea Philadelphos, married to Mithradates I
16 Princess Isias Philostorgos, married to Antiochos I Theos
17 Antiochos I Theos 86-36 B.C.

The same ancestors have been depicted in the same sequence on the East-Terrace. The necessary sandstone to carve the steles from the East-Terrace, has been taken from two quarries at the foot of the mountain.

The reliefs form a great contrast to the massive forms of the rest of the complex. The soft sandstone from which they are made, appears anything but imperishable. This material was suitable for Samosata or Arsameia, but not for the harsh climate on top of the mountain.

Next to the statues are the pedestals of five large reliefs. The reliefs are stored in the Restoration House. These reliefs are equal to those from the lower platform of the East-Terrace. On four of them the king welcomes the gods. From left to right you could see Kommagene, next Apollo, then Zeus and finally Herakles. Their names are carved on the back of the relief. Archaeologists have discovered that these names have been carved over an earlier text.

To honour the god he greets, the king wears on his tiara the stylized twigs of plants or trees, dedicated to that god. For the Goddess of Kommagene the pomegranate, for Apollo, the laurel, for Zeus the oak and for Herakles, the grape vine. Next to the relief of Herakles, there was a fifth relief, known as the Lion Horoscope.