The grave of a man buried with four horses, cattle, sheep and his dog has been discovered in the ancient fortress site of Çavuştepe near Van in eastern Turkey. The burial is about 2,800 years old and likely belonged to a member of the ruling and/or military elite of the Kingdom of Urartu. This is the first instance of an individual buried with animals on the Urartian archaeological record.
Excavation leader Professor Rafet Çavuşoğlu:
“This place has always brought firsts to us about the Urartian burial tradition. Today, we have encountered one of those firsts. In the studies we carried out with our expert team, we found an in-situ [in its original place] tomb. We saw a human being buried with his animals. Pieces of pottery were found right next to it. Here we also found an oil lamp with a bulb that we have never seen before. It also gives important tips about lighting.”
The citadel, known as Çavuştepe Castle today, was built by the Urartian King Sarduri II (r. 764–735 B.C.). The site includes remains of Sarduri ‘s royal palace, a temple, fortification walls and utility buildings (storehouses, workshops). The tomb was discovered during excavations of the citadel’s necropolis where last year the remains of a child wearing dragon-headed bracelets were unearthed. It contained the skeletal remains of an adult male (human), and partial remains of the animals. Of the four horses, two of them have complete skulls and jaws.
The grave is still in the course of being excavated. The bones will be removed for analysis and dating in the laboratory