A recent significant find at the Çavuştepe Castle unveils a horse skeleton bearing a bronze curb bit in its jaw, dated back to the Kingdom of Van era (Urartu). This discovery marks the first occurrence of a ring-shaped curb bit in the historical record of the Kingdom of Van.
The Çavuştepe Castle, perched in the Çavuştepe neighborhood along the Van-Hakkari-Iran highway, 25 km southeast of Van (Historical Armenia), was erected during the mid-8th century BC by King Sarduri II of the Kingdom of Van. Its excavation saga began under the stewardship of Prof. Dr. Afif Erzen between 1961 and 1986, resuming in 2014 under Prof. Dr. Rafet Çavuşoğlu, who continues to lead the efforts.
The ongoing excavations span both the castle and its northern necropolis area. Last year, a skeleton presumed to be of the ruling elite was uncovered at this site, and this year’s revelation of the horse skeleton with the bronze curb bit adds a new layer to the archaeological narrative.
Expressing his insights to an AA correspondent, Prof. Dr. Çavuşoğlu emphasized the uniqueness of finding a ring-shaped bit, elaborating on its potential usage for better control over the horse, shedding light on the crucial role horses played in Urartian society. This artifact further underscores the site’s affiliation with the ruling class.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hakan Yılmaz, a member of the Archaeology Department, echoed the importance of this discovery, noting the intact condition of the horse’s skull and lower jaw, and confirming the animal’s mature age. He heralded this discovery as a pioneering find in Turkey, which not only solidifies the location’s royal connections but also fuels anticipation for more groundbreaking discoveries in the expansive archaeological terrain.
A kilometre north of the castle lies its Necropolis (Cemetery), where illegal excavations prior to 2017 caused significant damage. Despite this, recent lawful excavations have unveiled invaluable insights into the burial practices of the Urartian society.
This unfolding archaeological narrative continues to spark intrigue, offering a richer understanding of the Kingdom of Van’s past, as researchers eagerly continue their exploration.
Cover Photo: Özkan Bilgin/AA