The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
(CAIS) -- A team of Iranian and
Italian archaeologists which recently studied 27 ancient sites east of Lake
Urmia said that despite the previous theory, the Urartians never had a direct
presence in the region, the Persian service of CHN reported on Tuesday.
The team, led jointly by Iranian
archaeologist Hamid Khatib-Shahidi and Italian archaeologist Rafael Bichone,
began the surveys about three weeks ago to demarcate the boundaries of the
Urartian state with Mannai and the Medes, the first Iranian dynastic empire in
Before the studies, many
archaeologists regarded the region as the centre of Urartu and consigned it to
the map of the Urartian state.
“An appropriate environment,
an abundance of water, and fertile land encouraged settlement and the
establishment of local states in the region during the Iron Age,”
“It is certain that the
Urartians had indirect relations with the people of the region. Sometimes they
had clashes and sometimes allied (with each other). But the Urartians never had
a direct presence or made fortifications in the Tabriz (region) and the Maragheh
plains, i.e. north and south of Mt. Sahand,” he added.
The Iron Age castles near Mt.
Sahand have mostly been built of stone without the use of mortar, he explained.
The ancient kingdom of Urartu,
the biblical Ararat, flowered in the area south of the Caucasus from the ninth
century to the seventh century BCE.
Urartu, centred in the
mountainous region around Lake Van, existed from about 1000 BCE, or earlier,
until 585 BCE, and stretched from northern Mesopotamia through the southern
Caucasus, including parts of present-day Armenia up to Lake Sevan.
“The local governments of the
region (east of Lake Urmia) were tributary states of the Urartian state before
the Medes came to power. The extant texts from the Assyrians, particularly
Sargon II, refer to this fact,” Khatib-Shahidi noted.
The team has also identified
remnants of some fortifications believed to date back to the Chalcolithic period
“The inhabitants of the period
built their castles on heights, but we have not yet been able to determine why
they chose to settle on the heights rather than the plains,” Khatib-Shahidi
If it is proven that the
remnants definitely belong to the Chalcolithic period, the fortifications will
surely be among the oldest and last remaining very ancient defensive structures
in the Middle East, he explained.
The team has also discovered
potshards dating back to the Achaemenid dynastic era (550-330 BCE).
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