Urartian speaker quits job in castle
Mehmet Kuşman, who has been a volunteer guard of Urartian Çavuştepe Castle in the eastern province of Van and is one of the few people in the world who speaks the Urartian language, has said that he will quit his voluntary job.
To keep the Urartian language alive, it should be given as a course in the relevant departments of the universities, said 80-year-old Kuşman.
Kuşman, who has been guarding the castle on the Van-Hakkari highway for 58 years in total — as a volunteer for the last 15 years — is one of the seven people in Turkey and one of the few people in the world who speaks Urartian. He learned the Urartian alphabet from teachers who came to the region for excavation work and from the books they gave and is one of the few people in the world who can both read and write the Urartian alphabet.
Served as a guard at the castle, Kuşman also guided the groups that visited the region. This way, he had the opportunity to go abroad many times and raised his 11 children by processing stones with Urartian figures and writings and selling them.
Stating that he started to work first as a worker and then as a guard at Çavuştepe Castle, and then his life changed, Kuşman said: “I saw that there was nobody who spoke Urartian language at that time. The excavation team found an inscription, but they did not know how to decipher it. I also thought that professors knew everything in this world. But it wasn’t like that. Then I made an effort to learn the Urartian language. I collected and learned the Urartian alphabet for about three years.”
Kuşman stated that one of his sons, who is currently a civil servant, also knows Urartu, adding: “There are very few people in the world who know this language. I guess I am the youngest and I am 80 years old. Others are older than me. I have been working at the Çavuştepe Castle for 58 years. I am old now and I have difficulty doing this job. And now I have decided to quit.”
Kuşman said that in order to keep the Urartian language alive, it should be given as a course in the relevant departments of universities like other languages. “We are only a few people who speak this language. We are all old. But this language needs to be taught and kept alive in universities like other languages.”