Fortified settlements containing open-air temples found in Türkiye

Archaeologists from the Yozgat Bozok University and Bolu Abant İzzet Baysal University have uncovered fortified settlements containing a new type of open-air temples within the Tunceli province, Türkiye.

The results of the excavation, published in the Pamukkale University Social Sciences Institute Journal, is part of the “Iron Age and Hellenistic Age Tunceli Survey” project, an ongoing study which has been surveying the region since 2016 to document sites of archaeological importance.

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The fortified settlements, named as Masumu-Pak and Aşağı Harik (Lower Doluca), are located in the eastern part of the Tunceli provincial borders. Masumu-Pak contains traces of Iron Age occupation, while Aşağı Harik has Iron Age and Medieval structures.

Within each settlement is a new type of open-air temple that share similar architectural features. Each temple has an outdoor prayer space and what appears to be a rock carved altars adjacent to a raised platform.

Image Credit : IHA

The temples were built sometime during the 7th century, a period in which the region was ruled by the Urartu kingdom. The Urartu was an Iron Age culture centered around Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands.

The kingdom extended from the eastern bank of the upper Euphrates River to the western shores of Lake Urmia, and from the mountains of northern Iraq to the Lesser Caucasus Mountains
The researchers propose that the temples served for the veneration of regional deities, with one of the sites linked to possessing healing qualities according to local legends.

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Header Image Credit : IHA

Sources : Journal of Pamukkale University Social Sciences Institute – Two newly discovered castle settlements and a new open-air temple type in the tunceli region.

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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