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  • Yoncatepe

    The excavation was carried out between 1997 and 2009 under the direction of the Van Museum at the Yoncatepe Castle and Necropolis, located about 1.5 km southeast of the Bakraçli Village, 9 km southeast of the Van city. As a result of the excavations, an architecture in Bey Konağı nature in the highest part of the hill and a necropolis and a civilian settlement on the north and northeastern slopes of the hill were found.

    Architecture, which has spread over an area of approximately 2,500 m2 in the highest part of the hill, consists of storage rooms, large halls, rooms, kitchen and cellars and two large courtyards. In the east of the settlement, There are two large courtyards, that are connected to each other with a wide door opening, its floor is furnished with flag stones. Warehouses and halls located in the east are reached by passing through the front entrances in standard measurings from the courtyard in the east. A symmetrical plan understanding with the general architectural establishment is dominant. The steps in the building indicate the presence of a second floor.

    The pitos, daily use containers, numerous bronze, iron and bone spearheads, fibula, bead, jewelry, and other textile samples that were buried to the floor up to their shoulders were found in the structure in-situ state.

    There are two types of burial chambers in the necropolis area which is spread on the northern slopes of Yoncatepe: Those in the first group are the examples which is not accessible from the surface with any opening, the top cover is covered with flag stone plates and probably the burial chamber can be reached by removing one of these flag stones. Others are the examples which are more frequently encountered, the entrance door of the burial chamber is again reached by a well-shaped dromos from the surface and a small independent unit forms in this area. In the grave architecture more advanced building techniques are observed, which is directly related to the building material. Because the area is very rich in flag stone deposits and its use in architecture has provided great advantages.

    The burial chambers have a rectangular plan like the samples in other necropolises. Larger sized graves draw attention. For example, the length of the Yoncatepe M3 grave exceeds 6 and the lenght of M6 grave  exceeds 8 m with the burial chamber. The side walls were again made by overlap technique. The top cover is provided with long flat flag stone plates. In some of the graves, it is seen that there is an alternative multi-room arrangement in alternative burial areas. The entrance part of some of these burial areas opened to the hard calcareous soil reached from the grave chamber or the dromos is again covered with flag stone plates and different burial chambers were formed in a kind of grave. As seen in other necropolises, after burial chamber is full or where necessary,  it is seen that the burials are generally collected towards the short wall edge opposite the entrance. Again during this collection process, it is seen that sometimes skulls are taken care of and placed in a certain area. In burial chambers, cremation burials were found in normal burials.

    In the necropolis of Yoncatepe, next to the chamber graves, a stone chest grave was uncovered in the area to the south of these tombs. The grave, which was formed with flag stone walls that its side walls placed vertically, is 1.02 m long (east-west) and 72 cm wide (north-south) and 60 cm deep. A hocker child burial whose head is facing east and who was tillted in its left side was found out in the southern section of the grave. In addition to chamber graves and stone chest graves, 10 simple soil burials were found.

    Many finds were uncovered as dead gifts in the burial chambers. The bowl in which dishes made of meat of sheep or cattle were put and pots in which drinks were put or vessels in crock type were probably standard offerings for each burial. In addition to this, iron needles, iron rings and bracelets made of iron, iron knives and wedges could be left as gifts. In addition to iron artifacts, jewelleries such as bronze bracelets, rings, earrings and fibula are the items that are placed as a dead gift in the burial chamber. Again, in almost all of the graves findings such as bead necklaces from various stones, dress buttons and spindle whorls were found.

    The marks on some metal finds and the bronze and iron needles and buttons used as dress accessories indicate that the deceased was burialed as dressed.