ARCHAEOLOGISTS have discovered the fortified remains of an ancient Iron Age civilisation hidden at the bottom of Lake Van in Turkey.
The find, which has left local historians speechless, was made by accident, after a team of researchers from Van Yüzüncü Yil University and a group of independent divers arrived in the area on the hunt for a mythical Lake Van Monster.
Undeterred when fellow archaeologists told them they would find nothing of interest, the divers endeavoured on.
Their efforts paid dividends when they returned with arguably the find of the century: hard, physical evidence of a 3,000-year-old lost city.
The castle is thought to have been built by the Urartu people, an ancient Iron Age civilisation that occupied a vast region between modern-day Turkey and Iran.
During the Urartu era, the water level of Lake Van would have been hundreds of metres lower. The people fled when the waters rose, leaving behind an extraordinary record of themselves.
The remains are extensive and span more than a kilometre, with some of the walls measuring between 10 and 13 feet in height. Even more could lurk beneath the detritus at the bottom of the lake.
Footage filmed by diving team co-ordinator, Tahsin Ceylan, shows the archaeologists at work, exploring the site’s well-preserved defensive features.
Speaking to Turkish newspaper Hürriyet Daily News, Mr Ceylan said, “many civilizations and people had settled around Lake Van. They named the lake the ‘upper sea’ and believed it had many mysterious things.
“With this belief in mind, we are working to reveal the lake’s secrets,”
Mr Ceylan went on to explain that Lake Van boasted a history of around 600,000 years and that the find would attract archaeologists from all over to see it for themselves.