Excavations start to unveil ‘city of dead’ in Zerzevan Castle
DİYARBAKIR – Demirören News Agency
The “city of the dead” will be unearthed in the 3,000-year-old Zerzevan Castle, which is the last garrison of the Roman Empire in the east and is home to the Temple of Mithras in the Çınar district of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.
Excavations have been ongoing in the castle, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, for six years and have been headed by Professor Aytaç Coşkun.
The historical castle covers 60,000 square meters of land. It comprises of rampart remains that are 12-15 meters high and 1,200 meters long, 21-meter-high watch and defense tower, church, administration building, residences, grain and weapon stores, underground temple, shelters, rock tombs, water channels and 54 water cisterns. Its 1,800-year-old entrance has recently been unearthed.
Coşkun noted that the Zerzevan Castle, the border garrison of Rome, is one of the best-preserved Roman garrisons in the world, and they have unearthed many new structures during the excavations they started in 2014.
He stated that among these, there were residences where soldiers and civilians stayed, underground shelters and secret passages, as well as the Mithras Temple, which holds a great value in the world.
Coşkun noted it is their 7th season, and they have been progressing very quickly. “Thousands of artifacts have been unearthed so far for which restoration projects of the buildings have been prepared and many new buildings have been unearthed.”
Stating that they were the first to start the excavation in 2014, he said, “With the start of excavations, it both changed the history of the region and became a prominent place in terms of tourism.”
Noting that there is an underground city and an aboveground city in Zerzevan Castle, Coşkun said that their goal this year will be to reveal the necropolis area, the city of the dead. “Our target this year is the necropolis area, the city of the dead by conducting excavations in the cemetery area.”
Talking about the different tombs in the Zerzevan Castle, Coşkun said, “There are rock tombs, three-person graves that we call kline and single-person vaulted graves made for persons holding special status where some rock tombs are also carved in the form of sarcophagi.”
“However, there is also a necropolis area, the city of the dead, outside the city wall, and work to unearth these rock cemeteries will start soon,” he added.