Last Updated on February 17, 2022 by Kurdish Heritage

About this monument

MOUNT NEMRUT (Kurdish: Çiyayê Nemrûdê‎) is a 2,134 meter-high mountain 40 kilometers north of Kolîk‎ (Kâhta), a small town in Northern Kurdistan’s Semsûr Province, corresponding with Eastern Turkey’s Adiyaman Province. The mountain is famous for a large number of statues that are believed to have been erected as part of a royal tomb from the first century BCE.

The statues on top of the mountain were presumably commissioned by Antiochus I Theos of the Kingdom of Commagene and erected according to the alignment of the stars on 7 July 62 BCE. Many of the statues were “beheaded” in antiquity by later conquerors to assert their dominance. The statues are of Antiochus himself, fantastic creatures, Mithraic deities, and of proto-Armenian, Greek, and Iranian Gods, including a Median God. The Medes are among the most important linguistic and ethnic ancestors of the Kurds.

What is of note for Kurds is the statue of a Mede God known as “Aramazd” or “Oromasdes”, the Parthian form of “Ahura Mazda” (Lord of Wisdom), the highest deity of Zoroastrianism. There is a cultural region in Eastern Kurdistan known as “Hawraman”. This name is believed to have been derived from “Ahura Mazda”. Hawrami Kurds believe that it was once a holy and splendid region for Zoroastrian priests. Hawraman, which was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2021, is dotted with Zoroastrian-era religious sites, such as tombs and temples of holy men. Many religious and cultural customs from this pre-Islamic era have been preserved, such as the Festival of Pir Shaliyar.

Kolîk Region is inhabited by Yazidi Kurds, which is noteworthy because they are relatively far removed from other significant Yazidi communities. Some of the statues resemble costumes still worn by Yazidi Kurds. The pre-Islamic Kurdish religion of Yazidism has many Mithraic elements, which was a Roman mystery religion centered on the Iranic God and Zoroastrian divinity Mithra. Like Yazidism, Yarsanism, another pre-Islamic Kurdish religion, has preserved many Mithraic elements. The most important ancient monument to the God Mithra is located at Taq-e Bostan (Kurdish: Taq Wasan), which is the site of a series of large rock reliefs in Eastern Kurdistan’s Kirmaşan Province, corresponding with North-Western Iran’s Kermanshah Province.

Unsurprisingly, Mount Nemrut carries significant cultural value for Kurds to this day.

Mount Nemrut is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and meets the following selection criteria:

(i), (iii), (iv)

To be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, historic or natural sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. These criteria are explained in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention which, besides the text of the Convention, is the main working tool on World Heritage.

UNESCO criteria can be cultural and/or natural; the first six criteria are cultural and applicable to historic sites such as architectural structures and archaeological sites. The last four criteria are applicable to natural sites, such as national parks. Sites that meet both cultural and natural criteria are called “mixed sites”, for example ancient rock paintings.

Before a historic or natural site is inscribed on UNESCO’s permanent list, it has to be included on a State Party’s Tentative List. State Parties will submit a historic or natural site for nomination and justify the site’s “outstanding universal value” based on the criteria they believe the site meets. Often times, they will compare the to-be-nominated site to sites already inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. A site has to be successfully tentatively listed before it can be inscribed on UNESCO’s (permanent) World Heritage List.

On, we list all the criteria a heritage site in Kurdistan or a Kurd-related heritage site outside of Kurdistan meets. We have added these criteria and UNESCO’s official (brief) explanation to the tabs on this page to make understanding and navigating between them a little bit easier.

to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;

to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;

to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;

to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;

to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;

to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);

to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;

to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;

to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;

to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

Kurdistan is a geo-cultural region wherein the Kurdish people have historically formed a prominent majority population, and where Kurdish culture, language, and identity have historically been based. Contemporary use of “Kurdistan” refers to parts of Eastern- and South-Eastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), Northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), North-Western Iran (Eastern Kurdistan) and Northern Syria (Western Kurdistan) inhabited mainly by Kurds.

The Kurds have greatly shaped Middle-Eastern and European history, politics, and culture and have at times ruled over vast parts of the Middle-East, such as during the Kurdish Ayyubid Dynasty, immortalized in European and Middle-Eastern consciousness by its founder Sultan Saladin (Al-Nasir Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub al-Kurdi / Selahedînê Eyûbî).

Because of Kurdish migrations, Kurd-related heritage, including many UNESCO-listed monuments, can be found outside of the historic Kurdish homeland, in particular in Egypt and the Levant Region, where the Kurds built many defensive fortifications in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Currently, there are two autonomous Kurdish regions in the Middle-East. One is located in Northern Iraq and has full international recognition as an autonomous region. In fact, often being treated as a separate state altogether. This autonomous region is known by several names, including: “The Kurdistan Regional Government”, “The Kurdistan Region”, “Southern Kurdistan”, “Iraqi Kurdistan”, and “the KRG”. The other autonomous Kurdish region is younger and located in Northern Syria. This autonomous region is commonly known as Rojava, but also as Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).

This map is an estimation of UNESCO inscribed, tentatively listed, and eligible monuments within Kurdistan and of Kurd-related monuments outside of the historic Kurdish homeland. UNESCO monuments that are located within Kurdistan are not persé related to Kurds; Kurdistan is “the cradle of civilization”, and as such, many civilizations have left their marks there.

As of 19 September 2021;

there are 25 tentative UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 11 permanent UNESCO World Heritage Sites within the borders of Kurdistan. In addition, two (2) cities are listed within UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. Furthermore, there are nine (9) Kurd-related tentative and eight (8) Kurd-related permanent UNESCO World Heritage Sites outside of Kurdistan (elsewhere in the Middle-East). In total: 34 tentative and 20 permanent UNESCO World Heritage Sites, plus two (2) cities, putting the total at 56. This does not include a vast sea of historic and natural sites that are eligible for UNESCO-inscription.

Monument Details

NameMount Nemrut
Name (KURDISH: Kurmancî)Çiyayê Nemrûdê‎
Place NameKâhta
Place Name (KURDISH: Kurmancî)Kolîk‎
Place Name (KURDISH: Soranî)کۆلیک
Date of Monument7 July 62 BCE ID21515
RegionNorthern Kurdistan (Bakurê Kurdistanê)
ProvinceAdiyaman / Semsûr
TypeUNESCO World Heritage Sites
TypeArchaeological Sites
TypeReligious Sites
SubtypeRegistered World Heritage Site
SubtypeRock Tombs, Statues, Reliefs, Inscriptions and Caves
SubtypeTombs and Shrines
Dynasty / PeriodKingdom of Commagene
UNESCO StatusInscribed (Permanent List)
UNESCO TypeCultural
UNESCO Criteriai (cultural), iii (cultural), iv (cultural)
Date of Inscription1987-12-07
Last Update2021-11-21
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