Aka I of Commagene

Aka I of Commagene also known as Aka I (Greek: Άκα) was a Princess from the Kingdom of Commagene, who lived in the 1st century BC. Aka I was of Greek and Armenian descent.

Aka I was the daughter of Princess Antiochis of Commagene and the identity of her father is unknown. Her maternal grandparents were King Antiochus I Theos of Commagene and Queen Isias Philostorgos of Commagene.

Unfortunately very little is known on Aka I. She appeared to have died of unknown causes sometime between the late 30s or early 20s BC. Aka I was buried along with her maternal grandmother and her mother on a burial site. This burial site was a monument known as the Karakush or Karakus Tumulus, also known as The Black Bird. The monument received its name because there is a column topped by an eagle, which has earned the mound name.

This burial sanctuary was constructed and built by her maternal uncle King Mithridates II of Commagene. Mithridates II built this sanctuary to bury and honour the lives and the memories of Aka I, her mother and her maternal grandmother. It is located 12 km or 7.5 miles from Kahta, Turkey. Each tumulus is surrounded by groups of three Doric Columns. Each column was about 9 metres or 29.5 feet high. It is topped with steles, reliefs and statues of a bull, lion and eagle.

This monument has Greek honorific inscriptions, which provides information about this site. It is inscribed on the external face of the two drums of the central column of the Northeast. Skipping a couple of phrases where restoration has been doubtful, the inscription reads:

This is the hierothesion of Isias, whom the great King Mithridates (she being his own mother)…deemed worthy of this final hour. And…Antiochis lies herein, the king’s sister by the same mother, the most beautiful of women, whose life was short but her honours long-enduring. Both of these, as you see, preside here, and with them a daughter’s daughter, the daughter of Antiochis, Aka. A memorial of life with each other and of the king’s honour.

After the Kingdom of Commagene was annexed in 72 by the Roman emperor Vespasian, the vault of the tomb has been looted. Her namesake was Aka II of Commagene, one of the daughters of Mithridates III of Commagene and Iotapa.

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