Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


The small kingdom of Kommagene (lat Commagene) in northern ancient Syria (modern south-central Turkey) bounded by Cilicia on the west and Cappadocia on the north arose in 162 BC, where the governor Ptolemy broke free from the disintegrating Seleucid Empire. His dynasty was related to the Parthian kings, but his descendant Mithradates Callinicus (100 - 69 BC), embraced the hellenistic culture and married Laodice, a Seleucid princess, thus claiming dynastical ties with both Alexander the Great and the Persian kings. Their son Antiochus Theos (69 - 40 BC) supported Pompey against the Parthians, and in 64 BC was rewarded with additional territories. He was able to deflect Roman attacks from Marcus Antonius, whom he eventually joined in the Roman civil war, but after Antony's defeat to Augustus, Kommagene was made a Roman client-state. In AD 17 Tiberius deposed Antiochus III, but Caligula reinstated his son Antiochus IV Epiphanes who reigned until 72, when Vespasian deposed the dynasty. Their descendants lived on prosperously in Greece, where local benefactor Julius Antiochus Philopappus still has a monument in Athen.

Kommagene is famous for its sanctuary located in Nemrud Mountain (Nemrud Dagi), an enormous complex on a mountain-top founded by Antiochus Theos featuring giant statues of the king (whose epithet means God), surrounded by gods. The location of Antiochus' tomb is one of the mysteries of archeology and recent research has revealed that on the peak of Nemrud Mountain close to the mausoleum there are some cavities that could hold the tomb of the king. Nemrud is a testament to hellenistic syncretism at its peak, each god being a synthesis of classical Greek and Persian gods (f.i. Apollo-Mithras-Helios) and was meant to be no less than the "home of the gods", making Kommagene and its kings a spiritual center for the Middle East. The statues were however destroyed by the Romans, and the sanctuary fell into oblivion, being rediscovered only in the 19th century and now a site of utmost interest for archaelogicans.