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Amanus Mountains


Amanus Mountains: mountain range in southern Turkey, also known as Nur Dağlari ("mountains of light").

Road across the Nur Dağlari, the ancient Amanus Mountains.
Road across the Nur Dağlari, the ancient Amanus Mountains.
In southern Turkey, three tectonic plates come together; as a consequence, there are two lines of mountains, which are more or less shaped as a giant T. From the south, the Arabian Plate and the African Plate collide with the Eurasian Plate. As a consequence, the Taurus Mountains are pushed up, which have a more or less East-West orientation. The African and Arabian plates may be moving in the same direction, they do not have the same speed. This creates friction, and this pushes up the Amanus mountains, which run north-south along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Its southern continuations are, beyond the river Orontes, the Bargylus and Lebanon mountains, the mountains of Judah, the Sinai, and the west coast of the Red Sea.

The Amanus blocks rains coming from the west, which pour down on its forest-covered slopes, where the water can be used for irrigation. This made it possible to found several important cities along the shore: Issus, Alexandria near Issus, and Seleucia in Pieria. East of the mountains is the fertile plain of Sochi, the valley of the river Orontes, and the city of Antioch.

The Bahce Pass across the Amanus Mountains
The Bahce Pass across the Amanus Mountains
The Amanus Mountains are a natural frontier: west of them is Cilicia, east of them Syria. There are several passes, like the Bahçe Pass or Amanian Gate -which is already mentioned in the Nabonidus Chronicle- and the Belen Pass or Assyrian Gate, which are of great strategical importance. In 333 BCE, Alexander the Great defeated Darius III Codomannus on the foothills along the coast between these two passes.

It is possible that the god Ba'al Hammon was originally the "lord of the Amanus", but there are other interpretations of the name. In the fifth and sixth centuries, there were several monasteries in this area.

This page was created in 2009; last modified on 26 March 2014.