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C. A. Burney

[Turk.: ‘earth castle’; Rusahinili; Toprak Kale]

Site in eastern Turkey on a limestone spur of Mt Zimzim, overlooking modern Van. This Urartian citadel was built by Rusa, probably Rusa II (reg c. 680–c. 640 bc), and first attracted the attention of European scholars in 1877 when bronzes came on to the antiquities market. The ensuing British Museum excavations by Captain Emilius Clayton, Dr Raynolds and Hormuzd Rassam in 1879, although destructive, provided the first archaeological context for the previously published Urartian cuneiform inscriptions from Van. C. Lehmann-Haupt (from 1898), and subsequent Russian and Turkish expeditions followed. The principal collections of finds are in the British Museum in London, the Hermitage in St Petersburg and the Louvre in Paris.

The fortress was naturally defensible on three sides, with water brought, on the evidence of a contemporary inscription, probably from the artificial ‘Lake of Rusa’ (Keşiş-Göl). A rock-cut channel also brought water from a spring almost 2 km away into an enormous rock-hewn hall, with basin, drain and benches. A rock-cut spiral staircase, with 56 steps and lit by three windows, led from there into the fortress. The fortification walls are discernible only by the typically Urartian rock-cut ledges serving as base for the masonry....