Van

Van (vän) [key], city (1990 pop. 153,525), capital of Van prov., E Turkey, near the eastern shore of Lake Van, at an altitude of 5,659 ft (1,725 m). It is the trade center for a fruit- and grain-growing region. Now predominantly Kurdish, Van was the cradle of an ancient Armenian civilization. It was the capital of the old Vannic kingdom of Urartu or Ararat. The city fell to the Seljuk Turks (1071) and to the Ottoman Turks in 1543. Near the city is the mound of Toprakkale where excavations in the 19th cent. uncovered the remains of the town of Urartu. Many tablets with so-called Vannic inscriptions relating to early Armenian history were found. In 1939 archaeologists discovered fortifications and various materials dating from the 8th cent. B.C. Many of the Armenians living in the region were massacred by the Turks in 1895 and also during World War I, when control of Van was contested by Russia. Van suffered significant damage from an earthquake in 2011.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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