Friday, February 25, 2011

Harput Castle


Katharine Owens, aka KO: The Insect Collector, selected Harput Castle in Elâzığ, Turkey as her entry for the contest last Friday, so that's my topic today. Harput is way out in eastern Anatolia and it's someplace I've never visited, so I get to learn about it along with you.

Some things I do know about the location, etc.:
  • It's cold there! The mountainous region is known for making a special wine, Buzbağ, which is made by letting the grapes freeze on the vine before pressing them. Something tells me this method was stumbled upon.
  • Nearby Mount Ararat is the highest peak in Turkey and supposedly the place where Noah's Ark landed. You might have heard of the pictures from space...Proof has never been found and Ararat is closed to mountaineers, so you'll just have to imagine it up there, if you must.
  • There is a tale that the resourceful workers who built Harput made mortar with milk instead of water because of a drought. People still refer to Harput as Milk Castle. (I'm one of them.)
  • In  the late1800s, Russian, Armenian, and Ottoman influences clashed in Harput. The castle town was the scene of a massacre, which is to this day noted in the highly contested issue of Armenian genocide.
What I didn't know:
  • Assyrians called the region Urartu when original fortifications were built in the iron age - so long ago that folks that used cuneiform writing. You know who would be comfortable there? Bartimaeus - that snarky djinn Jonathan Stroud keeps writing about. :)
  • Wikipedia says the castle there now was built by the first Armenian kings. Over the years, Harput was conquered by Romans, Byzantines and Arabians. It was a busy place.
  • Harput translates to "rocky fortress" in Armenian. It's located on top of a craggy outcrop with a poor source of water and difficult access.
  • The castle town was eventually abandoned because of a drought, and the inhabitants resettled in Elâzığ at the base of the mountain.

PS. I need to tell you what the lie was in Wednesday's Crusader Challenge post. It's the toothpaste tube. I never roll it, but I knew someone who did. :)

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KatOwens: Insect Collector said...

How lovely! What a thrill to read about Harput. You had me at making the special wine! Sign me up!

Matthew MacNish said...

I keep forgetting about the Bartimaeus prequel. We even own it, but I haven't read it yet! I love those books.

Old Kitty said...

Milk Castle sounds so like it's a castle in a fairy story and it really looks like it too!!! But wow!! What a history!!!! Amazing!!! Was there like a king or some clan who owned it?!?! Who ordered it built? How fascinating!!

Aha!!! Your lie is hilarious!!!! It got me!!! Take care

Carolyn V said...

The Milk Castle. Okay,that would be a lot of milk. =)

PT Dilloway said...

Sweet. I wish I had a castle.

Unknown said...

Ahhh yes. The good old toothpaste tube.
Good to meet you. I'm your newest crusade follower. My blog is

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Lovely post - makes me think of every fairy tale-esque castle I ever fixated on as a child:) Just found your blog - love it. New follower:)

Deniz Bevan said...

I thought icewine was purely Canadian thing! Wow, I had no idea they made it in Turkey too. Will definitely have to try some next time I'm there.


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