Historic gravestones found under Lake Van

Historic gravestones found under Lake Van

VAN – Anadolu Agency
Historic gravestones found under Lake Van

AA photo

Underwater photographer Tahsin Ceylan, who previously discovered coral which was thousands of years old during his research in Turkey’s eastern Lake Van, recently found a pier built with Seljuk-era gravestones. 
During a dive around the pier in Van’s Gevaş district, Ceylan, along with Van Yüzüncü Yıl University Faculty of Aquaculture member Prof. Mustafa Sarı and diving instructor Murat Kulakaç, found the pier underwater. 

Examinations have revealed that the pier was made of gravestones removed from a Seljuk-era graveyard south of the Van-Bitlis highway. 

Ceylan said he had been diving in the lake for years to examine its original ecosystem, document the life of its indigenous pearl mullets, record the world’s biggest macrobiotics and learn about its underwater structures. 

He said he came to the eastern city of Van in 1994 in order to research Lake Van monster claims, adding he had found historical remnants during his research. 

A unique geography

Stating that he was not able to record the remains because their tools were technologically inadequate, Ceylan said: 

“I have not shared the location of [these] historical remains with someone for a long time. Then I shared it with the museum director but people kept it as a secret to prevent people from looting them. After a long time, I told the mayor about the issue during an event in the district and we dove into this place. We photographed the remains underground. I think that we made a contribution to Van with this discovery. I believe that many underwater photographers will want to come here because Lake Van is a living organism. It is a unique geography and is home to many unique structures.” 

‘We were upset during diving’ 

Sarı said Lake Van had a unique ecosystem, and continued: 

“We have been diving there since 2010 but failed to find the location of historical ruins. We saw in our last dive that it was amazing underwater. The gravestones in the Seljuk graveyard were carried there and a pier was built. We were incredibly upset during the dive, as history turned into a pier there. Regardless of its origin, we respect it. A gravestone should not be removed from its place and exposed to this. I hope our mayor will get in touch with the Culture and Tourism Ministry for the protection of this place.” 

Works begins on gravestones

Speaking about the issue, Gevaş Mayor Sinan Hakan said they had recorded incredible things under the water of the lake. He said the gravestones had been loutishly removed from their original place, and added, “Each of these gravestones is a work of art; the most important treasure of our culture. This is an important discovery. We have initiated work; we will either transport the gravestones to their former place or we will design this place as an underwater museum. We need to use this place for diving tourism.”