2,800-year-old Pithoi discovered in Van Çavuştepe Castle. Urartian King II. Grain, oil and wine were stored in 120 pithos, each with a capacity of 300 kilograms, in the castle built by Sardur.

February 21, 2024

Archeologists working in Turkey’s eastern province of Van have uncovered 2,800-year-old pithos, or large ceramic storage containers, that once contained grain, oil and wine in the ruins of Çavustepe Castle built by Urartu King Sarduri II.

 Van'da Urartulara Ait 120 Adet Pithos Bulundu - Arkeofili

“The storeroom we uncovered contains 120 pithos which can store up to 36 tons of food, grain, sesame oil and wine. Each pithos has a capacity of 300 kilograms,” said Yüzüncü Yıl University Archeology Faculty Prof. Rafet Çavuşoğlu.

Buried till their necks, the pithos are covered in Urartu units of measurement in cuneiform script, reports BGN News.

Çavuştepe Kalesi'nde 45 urne bulundu haberi - Arkeolojik Haber - Arkeoloji  Haber - Arkeoloji Haberleri

The storeroom we uncovered contains 120 pithos which can store up to 36 tons of food, grain, sesame oil and wine. Each pithos has a capacity of 300 kilograms. Credits: Yuzuncu Yil University

Çavuşoğlu is the head of excavation at Çavuştepe Castle, located in the Gürpınar district about 20 kilometers from Van city center. The castle was built by Sarduri II, who lead the Urartu Kingdom during its peak in the mid-9th century B.C.E.

Ancient Urartian site of Cavustepe. Source.

The castle’s walls, cisterns, the world’s first sewage system, its temples and other structures stand to this day, and has become a popular destination for tourists. Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism restarted the excavations at the site in 2014 after a 30-year hiatus.

Çavuştepe Kalesi'nde Urartular dönemine ait 45 urne bulundu | TRT Haber  Foto Galeri

2,800-year-old Urartu storage jars as photographed in 2007. Source.

Noting how Çavuştepe Castle reflected the most colorful aspects of Urartu social life, Çavuşoğlu pointed out that they also found the wine basins where grapes grown on nearby vines were turned into wine.

Çavuştepe Kalesi Urartu tarihine ışık tutuyor | TRT Haber Foto Galeri

“This information can be found in cuneiform text around the castle as well,” he added, “Water that is brought to the castle via canals is used to grow grapes on its vines, then the grapes are crushed by feet in these basins and the resulting grape juice is then poured into the pithos and stored.”