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Decay of Limestone Statues at Mount Nemrut (Adiyaman, Turkey)

Mount Nemrut is a 2,206 m high mountain located in Adiyaman, Turkey. A number of monumental statues, a 50-m high tumulus, and a lion horoscope were constructed at the top of the mountain by King Antiochos I (69-36 BC) of the Commagene Kingdom. The site was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987 due to its unique character. However, the limestone statues located on both the east and the west terraces of the site are getting deteriorated. This study investigates the weathering of the limestone at Mount Nemrut based on field and laboratory studies. It is found that the dissolution occurs along microcracks developed in the limestone during geological time. It is more pronounced in the east terrace where freezing-thawing cycles are more than the west terrace. Furthermore, dissolution is more effective for the faces of the statues exposed to direct atmospheric contact. Due to harsh atmospheric conditions with dominant wetting-drying and freezing-thawing processes at the site, it is recommended that direct rain and snow contact with the statues should be minimized.