Unearthing the Tomb of an Urartian Buried with His Dog, Cattle, Sheep, and Four Horses

In a remarkable discovery shedding light on ancient burial traditions, an excavation at Çavuştepe Castle in the Gürpınar district of Van, Turkey, has revealed a tomb belonging to the Urartian civilization.

The tomb is distinguished by its unique contents, featuring the burial of a person alongside four horses, cattle, and small ruminants. The findings provide valuable insights into Urartian burial practices and offerings.

Professor Rafet Çavuşoğlu, Head of the Archaeology Department at Yüzüncü Yıl University, led the excavation and expressed the significance of the discovery. The tomb, located in the Çavuştepe Castle and the nearby necropolis, stands out as a testament to the rich burial traditions of the Urartians.

The deceased individual was interred with four horses, cattle, and small ruminants, marking a distinctive occurrence in the Urartian burial tradition.

One of the most noteworthy aspects of the find is the in-situ (as originally placed) nature of the tomb, showcasing the hitherto unseen burial arrangement. Adjacent to the tomb, archaeologists uncovered an oil lamp with a chamber—a unique lighting fixture providing valuable cultural and functional insights.

The discovery has generated excitement among the excavation team, as it adds to the series of “firsts” revealed by Çavuştepe, contributing to a better understanding of Urartian burial practices.

The inclusion of horses in the burial suggests the importance of the deceased individual, likely belonging to a ruling or military high-ranking class with a significant connection to horses.

Associate Professor Hakan Yılmaz emphasized the unprecedented nature of the find within the Urartian burial tradition. The inclusion of four horses, along with intact skulls and bones, showcases a distinct burial custom that provides new avenues for research and analysis.

The discovery challenges previous assumptions about Urartian burial practices, highlighting the diverse and intricate rituals associated with individuals of significance.

The excavation team also highlighted the discovery of high-quality pottery fragments near the tomb, resembling trefoil jugs. The exceptional quality of these ceramics further supports the notion that the individual buried in the tomb held a prominent position in Urartian society.

Archaeologists anticipate further analyses of the bones and artifacts in the laboratory, unveiling additional details about the individual’s status and shedding light on the unique burial customs of the Urartians.

As the excavation progresses, the tomb at Çavuştepe Castle continues to yield invaluable insights into the cultural, social, and ritualistic aspects of the ancient Urartian civilization.


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