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Stargazers watch meteors at ancient Turkish site

The Perseid meteor shower attracted hundreds of stargazers to watch among ancient statues atop Mount Nemrut in Turkey.

August 18, 2022
By Emrah Gurel
18 August 2022

Stargazers gathered to watch the Perseid meteor shower among ancient statues atop Mount Nemrut in southeastern Turkey.

The Perseid meteor shower appears every year above ancient statues atop Mount Nemrut in southeastern Turkey. (Emrah Gurel/AP)

Perched at an altitude of 2150m, the statues are part of a temple and tomb complex that King Antiochus I, of the ancient Commagene kingdom, built as a monument to himself.

Stargazers gather to watch the Perseid meteor shower. (Emrah Gurel/AP)

Hundreds of people spent the night at the UNESCO World Heritage Site for the annual sky show that stretches along the orbit of the comet Swift–Tuttle.

Wrapped in blankets, people prepare for the annual Perseid meteor shower. (Emrah Gurel/AP)
Clear skies allow for the perfect viewing conditions. (Emrah Gurel/AP)
Stargazers bathed in the glow of a setting sun and rising moon prepare to capture the Perseid meteor shower on their smartphones. (Emrah Gurel/AP)

A 50m-high, man-made mound – the presumed tomb of Antiochus – sets the background.

Ancient statues are silent witnesses to the annual meteor show. (Emrah Gurel/AP)
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mount Nemrut is the site of an annual pilgrimage for the Perseid meteor show. (Emrah Gurel/AP)
The skies darken. The moon rises on clear skies at Mount Nemrut. (Emrah Gurel/AP)

The ancient site that includes giant 10m-high seated statues of Antiochus, surrounded by ancient Gods, including Zeus and Apollo, was discovered in 1881 by a German engineer. Excavations began there in the 1950s.

Son of the founder of the Commagene kingdom, Antiochus reigned between 64 and 38 BC, until he was deposed by the Romans. The kingdom spanned an area from the eastern edge of the Taurus mountains to the Euphrates River.

Stars begin to shine in the clear skies above Mount Nemrut in southeastern Turkey, where ancient statues sit. (Emrah Gurel/AP)
The Perseid meteor shower attracts many stargazers to Mount Nemrut. (Emrah Gurel/AP)

People climb up to the ancient site for its jaw-dropping sunrise and sunsets. It’s also a favourite spot for stargazers. The meteor shower coincided with a full moon this year that dimmed the meteors, but provided its own beauty for the watchers.

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