Archeological excavations have unearthed a burial ground belonging to ninth century B.C. Urartian royals in the Van province of eastern Turkey.
The burial ground was discovered in the 2,750-year-old necropolis area, which was unearthed two years ago, during the excavation at Çavuştepe Castle, a fortified site in the Gürpınar district.
A team of 22 excavators — including anthropologists, archeologists, art historians and restoration work officials — discovered the burial ground. Experts believe that the discovery will help to study ancient civilizations in a more scientific way.
The team led by Rafet Çavuşoğlu, a professor of archeology at the Van's Yüzüncü Yıl University, found 2,777-year-old male and female skeletons, along with a silver necklace, 39 earrings, an amulet, a lion brooch and a belt depicting mythological characters.
The burial ground with a 50-square-meter (538-square-foot) area, is believed to be the resting place of aristocrats in the Urartu Kingdom.
Due to its location, Van, known as the pearl of Anatolia, has been home to many civilizations for millennia. The Urartians, who are believed to have come from Central Asia, ruled the region for 247 years in the ninth century B.C.
Experts believe that the latest findings at the Urartian castle, which was built by King Sarduri II in 750 B.C., are expected to offer new information on the burial customs and the ruling class of the ancient civilization, which developed in the Bronze and Iron Age in eastern Turkey and northwestern Iran.
The kingdom mysteriously disappeared in the 6th century B.C. but was rediscovered as a distinct ancient culture by excavations, carried out in the 19th century.
Çavuşoğlu told Anadolu Agency that they have discovered two types of burial traditions in the necropolis. He expected the findings to contribute to the history, with new information.
"The ruling class living at the castle had been buried here. We see different styles of burials and the advent of polytheistic religion," Çavuşoğlu said.
Çavuşoğlu said they also found an area covered with stones and bursting with urn vaults, measuring 5 by 10 meters (16.5 by 33 feet). "Some of the stones are placed in order, others are jumbled," he added. He said the excavators were still trying to decipher the original use of the area.
"This is a very exciting development for us," he said. "It is a very interesting area, different from other sites that we have excavated in the necropolis so far."
Çavuşoğlu said he anticipated unique discoveries during the excavation, noting that the Urartian civilization and their way of living and behavior have always surprised experts and excavators.