Tourists visiting eastern Turkey will now be able to stroll through the 2,900-year-old ruins of Altintepe Fortress, officials announced Thursday.
Located in Erzincan province on the historical Silk Road, the fortress is one of the most important Urartu settlements and an important center of the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire.
Now set to serve as an archaeological park after excavation works were completed, it was built during the period of the Urartu Kingdom and is home to hundreds of historical artifacts and ruins of structures erected in 850-590 BC.
The dig, carried out by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Ataturk University, started in 2003 and was completed in 2019.
Mehmet Karaosmanoglu, head of the Archeology Department at Ataturk University, told Anadolu Agency that adobe buildings from the Urartu period were destroyed due to earthquakes in the region.
"The reception hall in the castle, belonging to the Urartu period, is the largest and only example of those found in Anatolia so far," Karaosmanoglu said.
Three tombs were found in the southern part of the site, he said, adding that the sarcophagi they contained were the sole and most beautiful specimens from the Urartu Kingdom.
Arda Heb, the provincial director of culture and tourism, stressed that the artifacts found in the excavations contributed to archeology in Anatolia and were considered important examples of the culture they represent.
Heb said the archaeological park project had been approved by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
"Our project consists of three stages. In the first stage, the feet of the royal tombs were removed, the outer border walls were maintained and joint evacuations were made. We continue our efforts to create viewing platforms, cafeterias and areas where we can host our guests," he added.
*Writing by Gozde BayarAnadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.