2,900-year-old Urartian Castle is transformed into an open-air museum

History is an inconstant subject. If not carefully preserved, it quickly disappears into the cloudy nights of forgotten lands, never to be found again. The 2,900-year-old Altıntepe Castle – one of the most important Urartian cities in Anatolia, Erzincan in eastern Turkey – can testify to this. Standing the test of time as the only remnant of its unique culture, it is now ready to open up to visitors after being converted into an open-air museum with excavations ending at the site.

The artifacts unearthed in the Urartian-era Altıntepe Castle, located on the historic Silk Road and turned into an open-air museum affectionately dubbed “the Archeopark”, are the only examples of Urartian culture they represent.

Altıntepe Castle, one of the most important centers of the Urartians and the Eastern Roman Empire, is located on a 60-meter-high (196-foot-high) hill in Üzümlü district, 14 kilometers (8.69 miles) northeast of Erzincan town. center.

An aerial view shows the 2,900-year-old Urartian-era Altıntepe castle in Erzincan, Turkey, May 24, 2022. (AA Photo)

The first excavations in and around Urartian Castle, where hundreds of historical artifacts dating from 850 and 590 BC are found, were conducted between 1959 and 1967 under the direction of Professor Tahsin Özgüç of Ankara University .

Restarted in 2003 by Professor Mehmet Karaosmanoğlu in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Atatürk University, the excavations were completed in 2019.

A lot of important information and many historical artifacts, some of which are singular examples, were obtained during the excavations carried out in the 2,900-year-old castle, which is one of the most important Urartian settlements in Anatolia. The historical knowledge gained from the excavations has been assessed in numerous articles and published in several books.

The castle has been restored since the excavations and transformed into an open-air museum by creating footpaths. Once the landscaping work is completed, the museum will be open to visitors.

An aerial view shows the 2,900-year-old Urartian-era Altıntepe castle in Erzincan, Turkey, May 24, 2022. (AA Photo)

Artifacts discovered at the 2,900-year-old Urartian-era Altıntepe Castle are displayed at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, in Ankara, Turkey, May 24, 2022. (AA Photo)

Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Arda Heb told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the excavations of Altıntepe Castle have contributed significantly to Anatolian archaeology.

Heb explained that the castle had been turned into an open-air museum after many years of excavation.

“The first excavations at Altıntepe Castle, which is 14 kilometers from our city center, were initiated by the late Professor Tahsin Öngüç in 1959, and our professor’s excavations continued until 1968. The second excavation stage was carried out by Professor Mehmet Karaosmanoğlu between 2003 and 2020. In these studies, important architectural remains and artifacts belonging to the Urartian period were found.

Heb said that Altıntepe is one of the most important settlements of the Urartian civilization which has survived to the present day.

An aerial view shows the 2,900-year-old Urartian-era Altıntepe castle in Erzincan, Turkey, May 24, 2022. (AA Photo)

An aerial view shows the 2,900-year-old Urartian-era Altıntepe castle in Erzincan, Turkey, May 24, 2022. (AA Photo)

“Structures from the Urartian period discovered at Altıntepe have made a significant contribution to Anatolian archeology and are the only examples of the culture they represent. Artifacts excavated from the castle are on display at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara and have been evaluated in many articles and published. Altıntepe Castle has survived to the present day and is an important settlement of Urartian civilization.”

Heb said the site, which has been converted into an “archeopark”, contains many historical remains.

“The inner structure and walls of the castle, the temple, the apadana (a great hypostyle hall), the storehouse building, the remains of the outdoor temple foundations, and three underground burial halls, all of which belong to the Urartian period, were unearthed in the castle,” he said.

“In addition, the remains of a mosaic church decorated with animal figures from the post-Urartian period have survived to the present day. With the works carried out under the auspices of our Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the works will continue to transform the castle into an archaeological park and serve as an open-air museum for our people.”

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