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If these subjects do not raise your interest what ever will?

We are in  the Vilayet of Malatya. The city is situated 500 km south of the Black Sea and  400 km north of the Mediterranean. The area was part of the  fertile crescent…. .where irrigation led to the explosion of agriculture heralding ithe settlements of the Neolithic age.

Standing beside the swirling waters of the Euphrates, Malatya is ‘green’… surrounded by orchards of sweet apricots. These are sold fresh, potted, dried and made into confectionary. The kernel is pressed to make hair oil, powdered to promote the immune system or just eaten as a nut.. A maximum dose of 20 kernels a day is recommended as it does contain Cyanide!

Most dried apricot in Europe are from Malatya.
‘Pestil’ is confectionary of Malatya…made from boiling pressed apricots with a small amount of cornflour. The resulting thick liquid is spread on sheets under the sun and dried for a couple of days. Portions are then rolled up and sold. Directions for eating: cut a strip off and chew it !

Today the city centre is modern and bustling, watered by fountain few km north lies the earlier medieval city ‘Battalgazi’, which takes its name from epic events when Turks first converted to Islam!

One can wander round the cobbled streets, visit the famous Ulu Mosque and the Caravanserai…. I personally think of Malatya as the Paris of Eastern Turkey! The area has produced many artists , musicians and politicians. Climbing into the pine forests beyond Battalgazi one reaches the remains of the Hittite settlement of Arslantepe.

Arslantepe was first settled in 6000 agricultural communities. By the Early Bronze Age the area had become a busy trading hub linking Mesopotamia with Anatolia and the Mediterranean world. Its importance continued until around 700 B.C.E..
Many of the finds from the excavation can be found in the Malatya Museum. Arslantepe is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Glancing south from Malatya one sees the highest peak of the Taurus range….Mount Nemrut (named after the Assyrian god of death and destruction).
‘Nemrut’ is also the name is of a Volcanic mountain on the western ridge of Lake Van some 400 km east …quite different with a large crater lake!

In the latter part of the first millennium B.C.E. this was the Kingdom of Commagene, a small buffer state between Parthia, Syria and Roman Anatolia.
The state’s most famous king was Antiochus 1st. who reigned between 69 and 36 B.C.E.
Much loved by his people he decided to ‘deify’ himself and had them construct a Hierotheseion (temple tomb) atop the mountain since on his death he was to join a group of Graeco-Iranian deities.
There are four terraces built around the Hierothesion, a 50 metre high tumulus beneath which his burial chamber is presumed to lie protected by the loose gravel chippings on a 35 degree incline.

Surrounding the tumulus are four wide terraces.The East and West terraces are adorned with huge 10 metre hgh seated figures of the gods in flowing robes and head-dresses showing Persian influence . The central statue is Zeus wearing a long beard and cloak. Besides Zeus are statues of Apollo/Mithras, clean-shaven looking like a youthful version of Elvis Presley ?

Flanking these are statues representing Heracles and Ares. The statues are now mainly toppled, lying separated from their thrones.

Does this Antiochus consider himself a second Alexander?….who neither gained land or travelled!

Eagle and lion statues stand and guard the gods..
Edicts are inscribed on the statue bases…to the effect that special ceremonies are to be performed at sunrise and sunset while Antiochus’ body reposes in the tomb until eternity, his soul ascends to the heavenly throne of Zeus-Oromazdes.!
His burial chamber is somewhere below the mound, the place and contents of which remain a mystery.
Antiochus seems to have shown shown little interest in female deities as there is n!o Artemis, Aphrodite or Anahid…. Just Tyche who sits on the terraces with her Cornucopia !

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