Ancient castle studied in Lake Van
Works have been continuing to reveal the secrets of Lake Van, Turkey’s biggest lake in the eastern province of Van. Recently, a 3,000 year-old castle has been unearthed in the lake. Previous works had revealed stalagmites that were at least 10 meters long, known as “underwater fairy chimneys.
Underwater photographer and videographer Tahsin Ceylan, Van Yüzüncü Yıl University Fishery Faculty academic Mustafa Akkuş, diving instructor Murat Kulakaç and diver Cumali Birol dove into Lake Van and studied the 3,000 year-old castle.
“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
“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,’” Ceylan said, adding that Lake Van had a history of 600,000 years.
The photographer said they had done research on the lake for nearly 10 years, photographing pearl mullets, microbialites, corals and a Russian wreckage.
“We have shared all these findings with the world. Today, we are here to announce the discovery of a castle that has remained underwater in Lake Van. I believe that in addition to this castle, microbialites will make contributions to the region’s economy and tourism. It is a miracle to find this castle underwater. Archaeologists will come here to examine the castle’s history and provide information on it,” he said.
Ceylan said the castle most likely belonged to the Urartian civilizations, as the stone structure in the castle was made up of cut stones mostly used by the Urartians.
“The walls of this castle cover a wide section. The excavations need to be done underwater but we don’t know how deep the walls are. A three to four meter wall section can be seen and the castle ruins cover an area of one kilometer. Since the water of Lake Van is alkaline, the castle has not been damaged and has kept its characteristics underwater. We have detected the castle’s exact location and photographed it and have made progress in our research. We now believe we have discovered a new area for archaeologists and historians to study,” Ceylan said.
Akkuş said when the lake waters withdrew, civilizations had established big villages and settlements around Lake Van.
“As the lake waters rose, people withdrew but the structures stayed there. Even though most of them are in ruins, they are still there. We need to protect these structures first. Other castles in the country have been damaged, but the lake has hidden the castle here and preserved it,” he said.