ERZURUM, Turkey (AA): Researchers have identified 165 historical castles in eastern Erzurum province, which is located on the historical Silk Road and was called the “land of gateways” by the Urartians.
A group of lecturers and academics from Atatürk University launched a survey 24 years ago to reveal the castles in Erzurum, one of the oldest settlements in Anatolia and home to many civilizations starting from the Paleolithic period.
In the ongoing research, the remains of a total of 165 castles have been detected, most of which were built in order to keep the balance of power gained in the region and to dominate the natural water resources. The castles, some of which have been restored after being unearthed, are of great importance for not only Anatolia but also the Caucasus, Iran and Central Asia.
Participating in the research, professor Yavuz Günaşdı from the History Department at Atatürk University’s Faculty of Letters, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the research started in 1998 and is still continuing, adding that there could be 300 castles in the city.
Günaşdı stated that the study not only revealed the number of castles but also unveiled very different findings.
According to Günaşdı, 140 castles were identified in the first period of research. Noting that Urartians gave great importance to Erzurum, he continued: “The head of the Aras, Euphrates and Çoruh rivers originates from Erzurum. These three rivers have given life to Erzurum and the places they pass through, creating natural beauties, valleys and natural roads. Research has revealed that there are castles on these natural roads. Especially the Urartians attached importance to the city. We can see this in Urartian inscriptions. The Urartians defined Erzurum as ‘high country’ or ‘land of gates.’”
Explaining that Erzurum was on the strategic transit route to the Caucasus, Central Asia, Iran and Anatolia and that there were many difficult routes because it is surrounded by high mountains, Günaşdı emphasized that the castles were important for the control and security of the region throughout history.
Günaşdı stated that different castles were built in the city before and after the Urartians.
Providing detailed information about the castles, the associate professor explained that there were administrative and outpost castles. Among the administrative castles are the Pasinler, Avnik, Uzunahmet and Pir Ali Baba castles. The Georgian Strait, Akdağ and Küçük Çağdarış castles, on the other hand, are examples of castles built to protect passes in Erzurum.
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