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Long hidden Iron Age castle revealed in 3,000-year-old ruins in Van Province, Turkey

Long hidden Iron Age castle revealed in 3,000-year-old ruins in Van Province, Turkey

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The province of Van in Turkey is home to many amazing fortresses, castles and relics of the ancient past. Researchers have now located the site of castle ruins in Van, Turkey, near Hoşap Castle (pictured), which date back to the early Iron Age .

According to Archaeology News Network, the site is situated about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the Yurtbaşı neighbourhood of Gürpınar district. Village head İrfan Yücel, and Yüzüncü Yıl University (YYÜ) History of Art Department Professor Mehmet Top revealed the 3,000-year-old ruins, located on a high hill reached by way of a challenging hour-long hike.

Excavations have been ongoing on nearby Hoşap Castle since 2007, and both the ruins of the new site – referred to as Derbend Castle - and cultural artifacts have been found. Professor Top recently collected pottery pieces for study.

Mehmet Top said of the discovery, “My examinations showed that this castle might be from the early Iron Age. The remains of stones and ceramic pieces on the ground prove that this place was a settlement. Probably it was a tableland settlement. Traces show us that it dates back to the pre-Urartian era, namely the early Iron Age. This age starts in 1200-1300 B.C. and continues through 1800 B.C. We already know that castle architecture began in this era and continued later on.”
These early fortresses and castles were often built on heights overlooking villages, valleys and plateaus. Many of the still-standing castles were built later, during the Urartian kingdom (860 B.C.–590 B.C.) and were used for regional control, rather than for defense against foreign invaders. The eastern province of Van was the center of the Urartu civilization.

The notable Fortress of Van (Van Citadel) is a massive stone fortification built in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C. Sections of the walls are still standing, and it hosts an ancient inscription by Xerxes the Great.

Top of Castle Van in Turkey

Top of Castle Van in Turkey. Wikimedia, CC

Cuneiform inscription by Xerxes the Great on the cliffs below Van castle

Cuneiform inscription by Xerxes the Great on the cliffs below Van castle. It's several meters tall and wide, 25 centuries old, and the message comes from the Persian king Xerxes. Wikimedia, CC

Van Fortress, Turkey

Van Fortress, Turkey. Wikimedia, CC

Van Fortress, seven kilometers from the city center, overlooking the valley below

Van Fortess, seven kilometers from the city center, overlooking the valley below. Wikimedia, CC

Hurriyet Daily News writes that preliminary examinations have been made on the newly discovered Derbend Castle, and the Van Museum has been informed about the ancient site. The castle requires further documentation to continue plans for restoration and preservation. Work on this will begin soon, says Mehmet Top.

Featured Image: Hoşap Castle ( Güzelsu Van) of Van Province, Turkey. The newly discovered Iron Age ruins of Derbend Castle have been found nearby.  Wikimedia, CC

By Liz Leafloor



Exactly!!! I don't know wether you are armenian or not, but your comments are spot on.
Van was actually the oldest (official) capitol of Armenia, and my family name goes back to that time.
I've read in Murat Yalcin's book ''You rejoice my heart'', that he once went to Ani, and they didn't allow cameras, because pictures might be used as documents to serve as evidence of what's been done to the ruins in the last century of turkish occupation.
I strongly suggest that book. Bet you'll love it :)
Best wishes!!

I am glad you posted this, I was annoyed by lack of any mention of Armenians in this article.
Van even was Armenia's capital at some point.
Besides Van, another old Armenian capital is Ani, which is ruined and currently found in Turkey. That place too is being obscured and mentions of Armenian past are being buried.
The problem with this article is that it shows this ruined 3,000 year-old fortress as if it were "some sort of an obscure fortress" - who built it? Who inhabited this area 3,000 years ago? Wouldn't you want to mention that?

Tell the truth. Van is an armenian city. Ahuramazda is Aramazd, an armenian name.
I personally am an armenian, and my last name is Haigazuni, from the Haigazuni dynasty from Van. For 3000 ys my family has lived under the same name in Van, until the turks forced us to leave in 1915.
I'm guessing you don't know/don't want to write about the armenian genocide. Well, if you are as democratic of a website as you guys look, then this comment should be in fact posted, and thus, the truth told. Hope you do post it, and also look a little bit into these matters, as they mean my family's history; that has been almost wiped off the planet.

Hi there Patrick - I think you mean the tablet?

(Translation found on Wikimedia)

The tablet by Xerxes reads in Old Persian, Babylonian and Elamite, and it says (roughly):

"Ahuramazda is the great god, the greatest god who created the sky and created the land and created humans Who gave prosperity to the humans Who made Xerxes king King of many kings, being the only ruler of the totality of all lands

“I am Xerxes, the great king, the king of kings, the king of the lands, king of all the languages, king of the great and large land, the son of king Darius the Achaemenian”

The king Xerxes says: “the king Darius, my father, praised be Ahuramazda, made a lot of good, and this mountain, he ordered to work its cliff and he wrote nothing on it so, me, I ordered to write here.

May Ahuramazda protect me, with all the gods and so my kingdom and what I have done."



What's it say????


Liz Leafloor is former Art Director for Ancient Origins Magazine. She has a background as an Editor, Writer, and Graphic Designer. Having worked in news and online media for years, Liz covers exciting and interesting topics like ancient myth, history,... Read More

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