Clay masks, statues: the ancient castle of Kurul still reveals secrets


With more than 3,000 unique artifacts ranging from statues to weapons and ceramics dating back to before Christ, the archaeological excavations at the 2,300-year-old site of Kurul Castle in the Black Sea province of Ordu in Türkiye mark their 13th year with new discoveries.

Kurul is believed to be the castle of Mithridates VI and was an important settlement. Mithridatic kings arrived in the mid-Black Sea region after the Iron Age, and Mithridates VI the Great was the most successful Mithridatic king, extending the empire to the Aegean coast and the northern edge of the black Sea.

Thousands of artifacts, such as iron tools, ceramics, bowls, pots, spears and arrowheads, axes, daggers, weapons, ornaments, anvil and blacksmith cubes, as well as sculptures, were unearthed. One of the team’s most impressive finds is the 2,100-year-old statue of the goddess Cybele from the Sixth Mithridatic Period.

The detailed statue stands just over 1 meter (3 feet) and was a popular stop for visitors to the site. The statue is currently being restored at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum and will be returned to Ordu once the restoration is complete.

The excavations are carried out by a team from the Faculty of Letters of Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University and led by the head of the university’s archeology department, Professor Süleyman Yücel Şenyurt.

The 2,100-year-old statue of the goddess Cybele found in Kurul Castle in Ordu Province, Turkey, September 22, 2022. (DHA Photo)

“Since 2010, many works have been discovered. From what we deciphered from the architectural remains, this place was abandoned after the Roman invasion. We found all kinds of artifacts, such as cubes, ceramics and metal. It was a city that lived 2,100 years ago, which was suddenly destroyed and remained as it was. Since no other settlements were established there, we find artifacts at places where they were last used. Weapons, cannonballs, spears, daggers, there are many many examples,” Şenyurt told Demirören News Agency (DHA).

“The most important historical artifacts found during the excavations were the statue of the goddess Cybele, weighing 200 kilograms (440 pounds) and measuring 1 meter high, seated on her throne, and the statue of the god of fertility Dionysus and the god Pan, and the Riton, a religious vase in the shape of an animal”, explains the professor.

“In addition to these artifacts, 300-step hall stairs, terracotta tiles and masonry ceramic fragments belonging to the BC period were also discovered,” he said.

“We hope to find out what Kurul Castle was called 2,300 years ago during our excavations this year. By discovering important sites next to the statue of Cybele, we will try to learn the ancient name of the castle by finding epitaphs or similar artifacts,” Şenyurt said.

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