Mehmet Kuşman, who has been a volunteer guard at a Urartian castle in the eastern province of Van and is one of the few people in the world who speaks the Urartian language, has said that he will quit his voluntary job in November.
Has been guarding Urartian Çavuştepe Castle on the highway between Van and Hakkari for 60 years in total — as a volunteer for the last 17 years — Kuşman said he started to work as a guard at the request of one of the archaeologists coming to visit the castle.
After he retired, the head of the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums came to the castle and asked about him, according to Kuşman. “When he found out about the situation, he wanted me to go back to work.”
Saying that he makes a living by selling the stone slabs and necklaces processed with Urartian figures, Kuşman added, “If I went back to the day I started working as a guard and received an offer from another job, I would choose to work here again. I have very good memories here.”
Kuşman, who is one of the seven people in Türkiye and 12 people in the world who speaks Urartian, learned the alphabet from teachers who came to the region for excavation work and from the books they gave.
“Then I went to Iran and Syria to take notes by examining the inscriptions written in Urartian. After that, I learned the language and started to form words,” Kuşman said, adding that he learned 650 words in this period.
The castle located in Van’s Gürpınar district, was built between 764-734 B.C. by the Urartian king Sarduri II. Dedicated to its founder, the castle is called Sardurihinili, meaning “the city of Sarduri.”
The Urartian kingdom, which reigned in the Eastern Anatolian region between 900-600 B.C., is known for their skills in architecture, mining, rock carving, embossing and stonemasonry.
Hurriyet Daily News