1,500-year-old ancient lamps unearthed in southeast Turkey

Published 20.11.2019 15:28
Updated 21.11.2019 13:51
emAA Photo/em
AA Photo

Archaeologists in southeastern Turkey's Diyarbakır have discovered 48 ancient lamps dating back around 1,500 years. The lamps were discovered during excavations at the Zerzevan Castle, located in the city's Çınar district.

The excavations are being led by assistant professor Aytaç Coşkun from Dicle University's Department of Archaeology. He said the lamps, which are believed to be dating back to the Roman period, would provide more information about the castle's history.

Coşkun said the place where the lamps were discovered could have been an ancient shop. "Each lamp has a different sign on it, including sun, stars or letters sometimes. They all have a different meaning," Coşkun said.

The lamps were unearthed near a 1,700-year-old Roman-era underground Mithras temple, which was discovered in 2017.

The castle, which once served as military premises, is situated on a 55,200-square-meter area surrounded with walls stretching 12 to 15 meters high and 1,200 meters long, along with a 21-meter high watchtower and guard castle.

Excavations near the Demirölçek neighborhood, located 13 kilometers from the Çınar district, have been ongoing since 2014 with the help of Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Diyarbakır Museum, the Diyarbakır governorship, the Çınar district governorship and Dicle University.

The vast space also includes a church, administrative buildings, ruins of ancient homes, grain and weapon storage facilities, an underground temple, underground shelters, rock tombs and water channels.

Previously, an underground church and an underground shelter with a capacity to hold 400 people, houses and hidden passages were unearthed.

The Zerzevan Castle is situated along the ancient route of military premises and located on a 124-meter-high rocky hill in a strategic location between Amida and Dara. The settlement overlooks the entire valley and once controlled a large area on a key, ancient trade path. Once a strategic Roman border garrison town, the castle also witnessed the clashes between Romans and Sassanians.

The first settlement was named "Samachi" and while it is not certain when it was built, the excavations are close to revealing its age. The castle walls were repaired at the time of Byzantıne Emperor Anastasios (491-518 A.D.) and Justinian (527-565 A.D.) while some parts were completely rebuilt.

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