Mythological Trees

The natural habitat of the cedar, which is very durable and resistant to moisture, is extensible in length and is between 1000 meters and 2500 meters of elevations. Taurus cedar, one of the cedar species that are only found in Turkey and on Lebanon mountains. The world’s largest natural cedar forest is in the Elmali district of Antalya. Due to the durability of its timber, it has been used in shipbuilding throughout history. The oldest shipwreck in the world, off the coast of Kaş, which has remained intact for about 3300 years at the bottom of the sea is made of cedar wood. For this reason, in the ancient times, cedar timber was as valuable as today’s oil, and countries with cedar forests reached the capacity to dominate the Mediterranean basin. In order to strengthen the Egyptian Navy, Marcus Antonius gave his lover Cleopatra the Olba Region (Mersin-Silifke region) as a gift, which is rich in cedar forests. The fact that the cedar tree is so precious has made it the first species in the world to adopt the nature protection law.

The characteristics of the cedar tree and the unique natural habitat that it hosts have enabled the cedar forests to have a fascinating atmosphere; Throughout history, many legends about the cedar tree have been told from Central Asia to Mesopotamia.

The Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, which is the oldest epic in the world, which was written around 2700 BC, also deals with the cedar tree. A cruel ruler, King of Uruk, Gilgamesh, embarks on adventure in search of immortality because of his ambition. After each adventure he returns to wisdom, though he cannot attain immortality. In one of these adventures the path falls into a cedar forest. The cedar forest has a guard named Humbaba, commissioned by God Enlil. Humbaba is the protective spirit of the cedar forest. Gilgamesh, seeking immortality throughout his life, thinks that if he kills Humbaba, he might deserve immortality for his courage. Enkidu, Gilgamesh’s friend, is a powerful and wise mountain man. Gilgamesh and Enkidu go to the cedar forest and look for Humbaba. They are very fast and agile because they defeat Humbaba. They kill him, even though Humbaba asked for mercy. But Gilgamesh’s accounts are in vain. God Enlil is very angry and curses them.

You can see the cedar tree in the Bey Mountains and the Taurus Mountains, on the mountain slopes with altitudes above 1000 meters.