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Castle and Mithraeum of Zerzevan candidate to World Heritage

The Temple of Mithras, inside an ancient military settlement, is situated on the eastern border of the Roman Empire.
12 May 2021
Sunset at the archaeological site of Demirölçek

Sunset at the archaeological site of Demirölçek
Ibrahim Bulut

The Zerzevan Castle, which contains a Mithraeum discovered in 2007, has been included in the UNESCO’s Tentative List to be part of the World Heritage List. The site is located in the southeast province of Diyarbakir, Turkey. The archeological ensemble is one of the best-preserved Roman garrisons, according to the submission to the United Nations agency.

The first records of a castle named Kinabu are asserted since the Assyrian Period (882 - 611 BC)
The castle was a military settlement which overviewed part of the eastern border of the empire. The first records of a castle named Kinabu are asserted since the Assyrian Period (882 - 611 BC). It controlled the edge of the ancient road used for comercial and military proposes in the region. In the Persian Period (550-331 BC) and today the mentioned road that passes through the territory of Iran, Iraq and Turkey has been used as 'The Royal Road”.

The Mithraeum was carved into the underground of the north walls. On the eastern wall of the structure, there are columns carved into the main rock, two large niches in the middle and two small niches on the both sides. A bull sacrifice scene is also carved on the plaque in the middle big niche. Paint residues can be seen on the belt rising above the two columns around the big niche in the middle.

This is the second Mithraeum found in the region of Anatolia together with the one in Doliche (Gaziantep). The shrine of Zerzevan presents certain features that can be related with the Mithraeum of Dura Europos in Syria.


  1. UNESCO (2020) Zerzevan Castle and Mithraeum
  2. Aziz Aslan / Anadolu Agency (2020) 3,000-year-old Zerzevan Castle makes it to UNESCO list



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