The ancient Armenian church of Archesh has emerged from under Lake Van as a result of receding water levels of the lake, reported the Agos newspaper, which warned that looters may destroy the fragile structure.
The church is part of the city of Old Archesh, which was submerged underwater in 1841, when the water level of Lake Van rose. However, as a result of the ongoing drought in Turkey, the sunken city has slowly surfaced when the water retreated.
“And now, unfortunately, it is being destroyed by the excavations of treasure hunters. If no precautions are taken, another historical legacy will disappear,” scholar Sedat Ulugana wrote in an in Agos.
The author said that until today, most people have been discussing the structures inside the castle of Old Archesh and the historical mosque, but the church has never been mentioned.
Vandalism and looting are problems for existing Armenian monuments in Turkey because the government is ignoring their upkeep and preservation. This week, the issue of a 500-year-old monastery in Van was the topic of discussion by Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish parliament representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), who warned that treasure hunters and scavengers were posing a threat to these ancient monuments.
In another related matter, officials in Turkey have announced their intention to rebuild the historic Ani bridge on the Armenia-Turkey border.
Ahmet Arslan, Turkey’s former Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications and and a current Member of Parliament from Kars said in an interview with Gazete Kars Turkey’s Road department will introduce a tender for the reconstruction of the bridge, claiming that the work will begin soon, reported the Ermenihaber.am news portal.
“One of the important features of Ani is that it is located on the Silk Road. God willing, the General Department of Land Roads will rebuild this historic bridge over Akhuryan, which closes the Silk Road and crosses the Armenian-Turkish border, just as it rebuilt the other historic bridges. The work will start soon,” Arslan said, stressing the importance of Ani.
However, he did not provide more details about the restoration of the bridge. It is not known whether any agreement has been reached with Armenia on the issue, as one of the two bases of the bridge is located on in Akhuryan.