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New Finds Suggest Urartians May Have Settled Near Lake Urmia



01 August 2005


Archaeologists working in the north western vicinities of Urmieh Lake have found historical remains there greatly similar to those of the ancient kingdom of Urartu.



Discovery of 51 historical sites with remains of the Urartu empire in the north western province of Western Azarbaijan of Iran has strengthened the belief that the empire had the area northwest of Urmieh Lake under its rule.

Archaeologists believe that the empire extended their borders to the area due to its great resources including salt and metal mines, rich agricultural terrains, rivers, and great business opportunities found there.

Urartu was an ancient kingdom in eastern Anatolia, centred in the mountainous region around Lake Van (present-day Turkey), which existed from about 1000 BC, or earlier, until 585 BC. The name Urartu is from Assyrian and may have meant simply "mountain country". The name Urartu apparently corresponds to the Ararat of the Old Testament. Indeed, Mount Ararat is located in ancient Urartian territory, approximately 120 km north of its former capital.

According to Reza Heidari, archaeologist with Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization in Western Azarbaijan, several historical sites identified in the vicinities of Urmieh Lake are greatly similar to the remnants found of the Urartu empire found in today’s Turkey, therefore, it is now believed that the north western parts of Urmieh Lake has been one of the key regions under the Urartu reign.

Similarities of historical hills, fortresses, and cemeteries discovered around Urmieh Lake of Iran and Van Lake of Turkey are proof of extensive social, military, political, and trade relations between the two regions during the first century BC.

Inscriptions revealing the political beliefs and history of the region have also been found in northwest areas of Iran.

Mines of copper and iron, vast salt resources, rich lands for agricultural activities, and great trade opportunities were among reasons why Urartu people were so keen about connections with their counterparts living around Urmieh Lake of Iran.


One feature of Urartu architecture, that was to be very influential in the Near East, was the blind arch. The layout of Urartu buildings was the precursor to that of the Iranian Apadana layouts.


Experts believe that Urartian architects played a major role in designing Iranian fortified buildings. Urartu fortresses were solid structures of stone blocks.

The area once undergone archaeological studies before the Islamic revolution by foreign experts and then four years ago Iranian teams started where they had left off.




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