Van Kalesi




Van Kalesi  

Six identical inscriptions in the Assyrian language testify that Sarduri I (reigned about 834 to 825 B.C.) was the builder of the complex known as the "Sardursburg", which the locals called Madır Burçu.
According to Armenian tradition, the fortress of Van was built by Queen Semiramis (probably the Assyrian Queen Šammuramat (810-782 BC)). It was considered impregnable.

The settlement hill Tilkitepe (chestnut hill) near the town of Van shows that the area was already populated around 5000 BC. The history of Van as a town goes back almost 3000 years. Under the name Tuschpa Van was the capital of the kingdom of Urartu since the 9th century BC. The city was formed around the Urartian fortress near today's Van Kalesi. After wars against Assyrians, Cimmerians and Scythians, the kingdom perished in the 6th century BC.



The steeply sloping limestone rock of about 100 m height to the south had to be secured to the west, north and east by a weir. At the western end of the rock there is a structure of unknown function made of mighty cyclopean blocks.

In the very southwest a large rock complex is interpreted as the tomb monument of King Argišti I..
On the side of the entrance, high above the old town, the king had the so-called Horhor Chronicle installed in the smoothed rock face: The triumphal marches and city foundations of Argišti in Transcaucasia and Western Iran are reported in Urartian language and cuneiform script. In contrast to his great-grandfather Sarduri, he refers to the Imperial God Ḫaldi introduced by his grandfather Išpuini.
The palace-like complex contains a monumental hall, in which the royal cult of the dead was probably held, and several low side rooms with niches for grave goods and wall holes for light holders.



On the steep southern side of the rock, two large tombs were built on an artificial terrace.
The south-facing chambers, with a large, barrel vaulted cult room and four adjoining rooms, are assigned to Sarduri I. The tombs were built on an artificial terrace on the steep southern side of the rock. The second complex opens to the west. Since it contains two rooms one behind the other, each with two lateral chambers, Tarhan assigned them to the kings Išpuini and Menua, because father and son ruled together from about 820 to 810 BC.
Another, smaller hall would then be dedicated to Menua's son Inušpa, who died before he could rule. On an inscription in the east of the rock, however, he is mentioned as the third regent.


Urartian inscription below the fortress  

Visible from afar is the Sarduri II, the last cult terrace and tomb attributed to the last king inscribed here on the south side of the rock, to which a staircase carved into the rock leads. Inscriptions give a detailed account of the successful military campaigns of Sarduris II, the son of Argišti I, under whose rule Urartu achieved the greatest geographical and political expansion.
On both sides of the rectangular portal there are benches, which makes the terrace a place of worship. During the Persian reign, when Achaemenid satraps ruled in Tušpa, the Persian king Xerxes I had an inscription carved into a niche in the southern wall of the castle hill.
In three columns, the text in the three official languages of the Achaemenid Empire, Old Persian, Elamic and Babylonian, reproduced the same content.

Photos: @chim, Gernot, Monika P.    
Translation aid:    
Source: Wikipedia and others