Ancient Urartians built earthquake-proof walls in Van Castle

Ancient Urartians built earthquake-proof walls in Van Castle
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Excavations reveal protective structures from 750 BC.

Excavations at the ancient Cavuştepe Castle in Turkey's Van province have uncovered evidence that the Urartians took measures to make the castle earthquake-resistant over 2,700 years ago.

The castle, built by Urartu King Sarduri II in 750 BC, is being excavated by a team from Van Yuzuncu Yil University. In the castle's walls, they found 2-meter wide, 20-meter-long terraced structures connecting the inner and outer fortifications.

Lead archaeologist Professor Rafet Cavusoglu said these were support walls to prevent earthquake collapse. The team estimates a quake struck in the 7th century BC, after which reconstruction utilized the terracing technique.

Mysteries of the castle still being unravelled

Cavusoglu said the excavations continue to reveal new information after 35 years of work at the site. "There are still many questions about the castle's mystery," he noted, but they have primarily solved the earthquake-proofing aspect.

The team found clues about Urartian burial customs in the castle's graveyard, with cremation jars and intact burials both present. Jewelry and seals buried with women indicate they held high social status and engaged in commerce.

The excavations demonstrate that earthquake engineering existed centuries ago as the Urartians attempted to build strong, protected cities. Cavusoglu said his team will keep working to uncover more secrets and innovations of this influential ancient civilization.