3,000-year-old fortress discovered in Turkish lake

'It is a miracle to find this castle underwater'

Harry Cockburn
Thursday 23 November 2017 01:14 GMT
An Iron Age fortress has remained hidden in Turkey's Lake Van for centuries
An Iron Age fortress has remained hidden in Turkey's Lake Van for centuries (Getty/YouTube)

A lost 3,000-year-old castle has been discovered by divers and researchers in Turkey’s Lake Van.

The spectacular ruins are thought to be those of a fortress built by the Uratu civilisation which flourished in the iron age between the 9th and 6th centuries BC.

The discovery was made by archaeologists from the Van Yüzüncü Yıl University working with a team of divers.

In an interview with Turkey's newswire service Andalou Agency, underwater videographer and head of the diving team, Tahsin Ceylan explained that other divers and archaeologists familiar with the lake advised the team they were unlikely to find much in the water.

But they eventually found that the remarkable ruins are part of an extensive site which stretches roughly a kilometre. Despite being underwater for centuries, the height of the visible sections of the fortress’s remaining walls range between 10 and 13 feet high.

Mr Ceylan told Turkish newspaper Hürriyet Daily News, “many civilizations and people had settled around Lake Van. They named the lake the ‘upper sea’ and believed it had many mysterious things.

“With this belief in mind, we are working to reveal the lake’s secrets,” Mr Ceylan added that Lake Van had a history of around 600,000 years.

“It is a miracle to find this castle underwater,” he added. “Archaeologists will come here to examine the castle’s history and provide information on it,” he said.

Urartu, also known as the Kingdom of Van, was an ancient nation that spanned parts of modern day Turkey, Armenia, and Iran. Lake Van is thought to have been an important focus for the civilisation.

“Studies were done on the underwater portion of the historic Urartian castle in our city, revealing it to be nearly 3,000 years old,” said Adilcevaz District governor Arif Karaman.

It is not the first discovery the team has made in the lake. Last year they found an area 1.5 square miles in size of bizarre stalagmites, which they nicknamed the “underwater fairy chimneys”.

Earlier this year they stumbled across the wreckage of a Russian ship thought to have been sunk in 1948.

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