Rusahinili, the Ancient Capital of the Kingdom of Van

Rusahinili, the Ancient Capital of the Kingdom of VanRusahinili was the capital of the Kingdom of Van located on the fortified rock “Toprakkale” (modern name of the city as well) east of the city of Van.

Rusahinili was built by King Rusa I (Armenian: Հրաչյա, Hrachya, according to the notes of Movses Khorenatsi. The distorted name Rusa is much more known today) after the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III defeated Sardury II, the father of Rusa, and destroyed the city of Tushpa, the previous capital of the kingdom. Rusa I named the new city in his honor.

Rusa I was forced to concentrate his efforts on a number of complex hydraulic engineering works for the organization of uninterrupted water supply in the city. In 30 km from the city, an artificial lake with several dams connected by two channels to the city was created. The water level of the lake was 900 m above Rusahinili. These structures allowed the population to irrigate the lands around Rusahinili and grow gardens on them.

The supply of fresh water in Rusahinili was 2.5 – 3 m³ / sec. The water channel existed for about 2500 years until 1891 when it was destroyed due to lack of maintenance and severe flooding.

Scientists consider the water supply system of Rusahinili a structure that was not inferior to similar modern structures.

The first excavations in Toprakkale were carried out by the British Vice-Consul in Van Captain Clayton and archaeologist Ormuzd Rassam in 1879. The temple of the city was under particular attention. At that time, it was standing on the northern slope of the cliff well preserved.

As a result of the excavations, numerous valuable items were discovered, including decorations, royal shields, and decorative friezes made of stone. Most of these finds were sent for display into the British Museum.

In 1898-1899, a German archaeological expeditionary group led by Lehmann-Haupt visited Toprakkale. The artifacts found during this expedition were mainly sent to the Berlin Museum, but many of them were not taken out of the country and later formed the basis of the collections of the Van Museum, the archaeological museum of Turkey, which collected the remaining finds from Tushpa and Rusahinili. A multivolume work based on the results of the expedition was published afterwards.

In 1911-1912, small excavations in Toprakkale were carried out by academician Orbelian.

Since the end of the World War I to the present time, there has been a stronghold of the Turkish regular army in the place of Rusahinili, making access to Toprakkale impossible for tourists and archaeologists.

• “Mher’s Door” or “The gate of god” near Rusahinili.
• Battle chariot of the 8th century BC.
• A detail of decoration of the throne in form of gryphon.
• A detail of the throne in form of a bull.
• A bronze statue of winged deity decorating the throne.
• Another depiction of a winged deity.
• Winged deities, bone carving.
• This 8th century statuette decorated the shaft of a chariot.
• The Toprahkale rock, the location of Rusahinili.
• Stylized image of the tree of life.
• An enlarged fragment of the image on a helmet containing the “Tree of Life” with winged deities on either side.
• Figurine of a goddess.


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