Research Article

DOI :10.26650/anar.2023.28.1256264   IUP :10.26650/anar.2023.28.1256264    Full Text (PDF)

An Evaluation of the Original Identity Problem and Structural Design of Zerzevan Castle

Aytaç CoşkunE. Deniz Oğuz-kırca

This study deals with the mature period of a Roman hilltop fortress (3rd-6th centuries AD) established at Zerzevan which is part of Upper Mesopotamia, now lying in Diyarbakır Province, Southeast Turkey. The site of Zerzevan was constructed according to predetermined rules and principles, with certain standards. It is possible that the Roman army, which specialized in organizing its frontiers with robust fortifications, hosted legionaries from different regions here. The main method of research is based on a combination of field evidence and textual data, giving priority to preliminary results of the excavations carried out on the site since 2014. Theories about the characterization of the site corresponding to the typical requirements of a border garrison approach the idea of an Auxilia/ Tactical Fortress, usually built by the legionaries (instead of an above-standard size Castrum Romanum) which could have been customized according to various factors arising from the geo-political conditions of the region. In this context, it must have been built as a local line of defense utilized in the outer boundaries of the Roman Empire, to meet the minimum requirements of a standard size base and/or outpost. The integrity of the site supports the hypothesis that it could have been ranked as a secondary order castrum in the operational chain of command and order of the Roman army.

PDF View


  • Ammianus Marcellinus. History (vol I). Rolfe, J.C., trans., London, 1939. google scholar
  • Lucius Cassius Dio. Historia Romana (Roman history), Cary, E., trans., the Loeb Classical Library, 1968. google scholar
  • Marcus Vitruvius Pollio. De architectura (mimarlık üzerine on kitap). Şevki Vanlı Mimarlık Vakfı, Güven, S., trans., Şevki Vanlı Mimarlık Vakfı, 1990; the ten books on architecture (1-10). Morgan M.H., trans., Dover Publications, 1960. google scholar
  • Polybius. Histories. Shuckburgh, E.S., trans., Macmillan. 1889, reprint Bloomington, 1962. google scholar
  • Procopius of Caesarea. De aedificiis (on buildings), Dewing, H.B., trans., the Loeb Classical Library, 1949. google scholar
  • Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus. De re militari (epitoma rei militaris), Lang, C. (ed.), Stuttgart, 1872. 2nd ed. Leipzig, 1885; Milner, N.P., trans. Liverpool, 1993, 2nd revised ed., 2011. google scholar
  • Strabo. Geographika: antik Anadolu coğrafyası (books 12-14). Pekman, A., trans, Arkeoloji ve Sanat Yayınları, 2005. google scholar
  • Ahunbay, M. (1991). Dara- Anastasiopolis. KST, 12, 391-399. google scholar
  • Bletry, S. (2020). The fortifications of Zenobia reinterpreted. In E.E.Intagliata, S.J.Barker, & C. Courault (Eds.), City walls in late antiquity (pp. 137-147). Oxbow Books. google scholar
  • Buckingham, J.S. (1827). Travels in Mesopotamia (including a journey from Aleppo to Bagdad by the route of Beer, Orfah, Diarbekr, Mardin, & Mousul; with research on the ruins of Niniveh, Babylon, and other ancient cities) (vol.1). Henry Colburn. google scholar
  • Campbell, J.B. (1999). Legio. DNP, 7, 7-22. google scholar
  • Campbell, D.B. (2006). Roman legionary fortresses 27BC-AD 378. Osprey Publishing. google scholar
  • Carrington, P. (1977). The planning and date of the Roman legionary fortress at Chester. Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society, 60, 35-42. google scholar
  • Comfort, A., & Marciak, M. (2018). How did the Persian king of kings get his wine? the upper Tigris in antiquity (c.7000 bce to 636 ce). Archaeopress. google scholar
  • Coşkun, A. (2016). Zerzevan kalesi 2014 yılı kazı çalışmaları: ilk sezon. KST, 37 (1), 101-128. google scholar
  • Coşkun, A. (2017a). 2015 yılı Zerzevan kalesi kazı çalışmaları (2. sezon). KST 38 (1), 125-150. google scholar
  • Coşkun, A. (2017b). Zerzevan castle in the light of recent archeological research. Anadolu (Anatolia), 43, 91-110. google scholar
  • Coşkun, A. (2019). Zerzevan kalesi-Roma’nın sınır garnizonu / Zerzevan castle - Roman border garrison. Diyarbakır Valiliği. google scholar
  • Coşkun, A., & Oğuz Kırca, E.D. (2022). Beyond the Roman east: an archaeological evaluation of the Mithraeum based on its architectural authenticity at castrum Zerzevan (Diyarbakır, Turkey). Journal of Ancient History and Archaeology, 9 (2), 94-105. google scholar
  • Deichmann, F.W., & Peschlow, U. (1977). Zwei spatantike Ruinenstatten in nordmesopotamien. Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften. google scholar
  • Devambez, P. (1937). İstanbul müzeleri. Asariatika Müzesi: tunç eserler rehberi - guide illustre de bronzes. İstanbul. google scholar
  • Dewing H. B. (1914). Procopius, history of the wars, I. New York. google scholar
  • Dietz, K., Fischer, T. (1996). Die Römer in Regensburg. Regensburg. google scholar
  • Dhalla, M.N. (1914). Zoroastrian theologoy from the earliest times to the present day. New York. google scholar
  • Dillemann, L. (1962). Haute Mesopotamie orientale et pays adjacents: contribution a la geographie historique de la region, du Ve s. avant l’ere chretienneau Vle s. de cette ere. Paris. google scholar
  • Dursun, F., & Coşkun, A. (2020). A preliminary study on material properties of the Zerzevan castle, Turkey. Materials Science and Engineering, 949, 1-8. google scholar
  • Eliade, M. (2003). Dinsel inançlar ve düşünceler tarihi, çev. A. Berktay. Kabalcı Yayınevi. google scholar
  • Erdoğan, N. (2014). Anastasiopolis- Dara Antik Kenti. Mardin. google scholar
  • Eyice, S. (1993). P.Guillaume de Jerphanion ve Ankara kalesi. Ankara Dergisi, 2 (5), 9-31. Ankara Büyükşehir Belediyesi. google scholar
  • Fıratlı, N. (1955). A short guide to the Byzantine works of art. İstanbul. google scholar
  • Foss, C. (1977). Late antique and byzantine Ankara. Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 31: 27-87. google scholar
  • Foss, C., Winfield, D. (1986). Byzantine fortifications: an introduction. University of South Africa. google scholar
  • Gabriel, A. (1940). Voyages archeologiques dans la Turquie orientale. Paris. google scholar
  • Gechter, M. (2007). Der Römische militarplatz Neuss (Novaesium). In G. Uelsberg (Ed.), Krieg und frieden-Kelten, Römer und Germanen (pp. 207-213). Begleitbuch Zur Gleichnamigen Ausstellung im Rheinischen Landesmuseum. google scholar
  • Goldsworthy, A. (2013). Armia Rzymska na wojnie 100p.n.e. - 200 n.e. Oswiçcim. google scholar
  • Görkay, K. (2011). Roman city walls (3rd century city walls), Roman Ancyra. İstanbul. google scholar
  • Görkay, K. (2017). Zeugma lejyon yerleşkesi: yeni araştırmalar, sonuçlar ve ön değerlendirmeler. Anadolu (Anatolia), 43, 147-179. google scholar
  • Guyer, H.S. (1968). Reise durch Mesopotamien. Zürich. google scholar
  • Guyer, S. (1939). Eski Hisar, ein römisches lagerkastell im gebiet von Edessa. In Melanges syriens offerts a monsieur Rene Dussaudpar ses amis et ses eleves (pp. 183-190). Paris. google scholar
  • Hartmann, M., Drahor, M.G., Speidel, M.A., & Çiğdem, S. (2006). New research at the Roman legionary camp at Satala, northeast Anatolia; geophysical and archaeological survey. AST, 21, 197-204. google scholar
  • Henderson, B. 1903. Controversies in Armenian topography I: the site of Tigranocerta. The Journal of Philology, 28, 99-121. google scholar
  • İdil, V. (1997). Ankara: the ancient sites and museums. Ankara. google scholar
  • Jones, R. (2017). Roman frontier studies 2009. In N. Hodgson, J.P. Bidwell, & J. Schachtman (Eds.), Proceedings of the XXI international congress of Roman frontier studies (limes congress) held at Newcastle upon Tyne, August 2009 (pp. 521-531). Archaeopress Publishing. google scholar
  • Joubin, A. (1898). Musee imperial Ottoman. bronzes et bijoux. İstanbul. google scholar
  • Kadıoğlu, M., & Görkay, K. (2011). Roma döneminde Ankyra. In Y. Kurt (Ed.), Tarihte Ankara uluslararası sempozyumu bildirileri (pp. 531-541). Ankara Üniversitesi Dil ve Tarih-Coğrafya Fakültesi. google scholar
  • Kaya, M.A. (2005). Roma lejyonerleri ve Anadolu. Tarih Araştırmaları Dergisi, 24 (37), 87-98. google scholar
  • Kızıl, H. (2013). Zurvanizm’in kuruluşu ve Sasaniler dönemindeki etkileri. EKEV Akademi Dergi, 56, 295310. google scholar
  • Kretzschmer, F. (2010). Resimlerle antik Roma’da mimarlik ve mühendislik, çev. İlkgelen, Z.Z. Arkeoloji ve Sanat Yayınları. google scholar
  • Kütük, A. (2014). İmparator I. Justinianos’un ilk yıllarında Bizans imparatorluğunun Mezopotamya sınırı (527-532). Tarih Okulu Dergisi, 18, 141-164. google scholar
  • Lander, J. (1984). Roman stone fortifications: variation and change from the first century a.d. to the fourth. Bar International Series. google scholar
  • Lightfoot, Ch.S. (1998). Survey work at Satala, a Roman legionary fortress in north-east Turkey. In R. Matthews (Ed.), Ancient Anatolia. fifty years’ work by the British institute of archaeology at Ankara (pp. 273-284). London. google scholar
  • Löhberg, B. (2006). Das itinerarium provinciarum Antonini Augusti. Frank & Timme. google scholar
  • Marciak, M. (2014). The cultural landscape of Sophene from hellenistic to early Byzantine times. Göttinger Forum für Altertumswissenschaft, 17, 13-56. google scholar
  • Marcu, F. (2009). The internal planning of Roman forts of Dacia. Mega Publishing House. google scholar
  • Mitford, T.B. (1977). The Euphrates frontier in Cappadocia. Studien zu den 129 militargrenzen Roms II, 38 (501-511). Köln. google scholar
  • Mitford, T.B. (1998). The roman frontier on the upper Euphrates. In R. Matthews (Ed.), Ancient Anatolia: fifty years’ work by the British institute at Ankara (pp. 255-272). London. google scholar
  • Niebuhr, C. (1780). Voyage en Arabie & en d’autres pays circonvoisins. Amsterdam. google scholar
  • Parker, S.T. (2000). Roman legionary fortresses in the east. In R.J. Brewer (Ed.), Roman fortresses and their legions. papers in honour of G.C. Boon (pp. 121-138). Society of Antiquaries of London/National Museums & Galleries of Wales. google scholar
  • Pitarakis, B. (2015). Hayat kısa, sanat uzun- Bizans ’ta şifa sanatı/ life is short, art long - the art of healing in Byzantium. İstanbul. google scholar
  • Pleket, H. W., & Stroud, R.S. (1977). Samachi (kale’i Zerzevan; 45 km s. of Amida). inscription on a bronze bucket, 6th cent. A.D. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum, 27. google scholar
  • Preusser, C. (1911). Nordmesopotamische baudenkmaler altchristlicher und islamischer zeit. Leipzig. google scholar
  • Ritter, C. (1844). Die erdkunde von Asien 7-2. Berlin. google scholar
  • Sachau, E. (1883). Reise in Syrien und Mesopotamien. Leipzig. google scholar
  • Serin, U. (2011). Late antique and Byzantine Ankara: topography and architecture. In Marmoribus vestita. miscellanea in onore di Federico Guidobaldi (pp. 1257-1280). Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana. google scholar
  • Schneider, A.W. (1943). Die Römische und Byzantinische denkmaler von İznik-Nicaea. Istanbuler Forschungen, 16. Berlin. google scholar
  • Shirley, E.A.M. (1996). The building of the legionary fortress at Inchtuthil. Britannia, 27, 111-128. google scholar
  • Taylor, J.G. (1868). Journal of a tour in Armenia, Kurdistan and upper Mesopotamia. Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, 38, 281-361. google scholar
  • Tosun, M., & Yalvaç, K. (1975). Sumer, Babil, Assur kanunları ve Ammi-Şaduqa fermanı. Türk Tarih Kurumu. google scholar
  • Uzunoğlu, H. (2012). Anadolu’da Roma lejyonları. In N.E. Akyürek Şahin, B. Takmer, & F. Onur (Eds.), Eskiçağ yazıları 2 (pp. 93-128). Arkeoloji ve Sanat Yayınları. google scholar
  • Wagner, J. (1977). Legio IIII Scythica in Zeugma am Euphrat. Limes, 10, 517-539. Köln. google scholar
  • Wagner, J. (1983). Provincia Osrhoene. In S. Mitchell (Ed.), Armies and frontiers in roman and byzantine Anatolia (proceedings of a colloquium held at university college) (pp. 103-129). Swansea, April 1981. Oxford, BAR International Series. google scholar
  • Wilkinson, T.J. (2003). Archaeological landscapes of the near east. The University of Arizona Press. google scholar
  • Wycherley, R.E. (2011). Antik çağda kentler nasıl kuruldu? Arkeoloji ve Sanat Yayınları. google scholar


Copy and paste a formatted citation or use one of the options to export in your chosen format



Coşkun, A., & Oğuz-kırca, E.D. (2023). An Evaluation of the Original Identity Problem and Structural Design of Zerzevan Castle. Anatolian Research, 0(28), 119-142.


Coşkun A, Oğuz-kırca E D. An Evaluation of the Original Identity Problem and Structural Design of Zerzevan Castle. Anatolian Research. 2023;0(28):119-142.


Coşkun, A.; Oğuz-kırca, E.D. An Evaluation of the Original Identity Problem and Structural Design of Zerzevan Castle. Anatolian Research, [Publisher Location], v. 0, n. 28, p. 119-142, 2023.

Chicago: Author-Date Style

Coşkun, Aytaç, and E. Deniz Oğuz-kırca. 2023. “An Evaluation of the Original Identity Problem and Structural Design of Zerzevan Castle.” Anatolian Research 0, no. 28: 119-142.

Chicago: Humanities Style

Coşkun, Aytaç, and E. Deniz Oğuz-kırca. An Evaluation of the Original Identity Problem and Structural Design of Zerzevan Castle.” Anatolian Research 0, no. 28 (Jun. 2024): 119-142.

Harvard: Australian Style

Coşkun, A & Oğuz-kırca, ED 2023, 'An Evaluation of the Original Identity Problem and Structural Design of Zerzevan Castle', Anatolian Research, vol. 0, no. 28, pp. 119-142, viewed 22 Jun. 2024,

Harvard: Author-Date Style

Coşkun, A. and Oğuz-kırca, E.D. (2023) ‘An Evaluation of the Original Identity Problem and Structural Design of Zerzevan Castle’, Anatolian Research, 0(28), pp. 119-142. (22 Jun. 2024).


Coşkun, Aytaç, and E. Deniz Oğuz-kırca. An Evaluation of the Original Identity Problem and Structural Design of Zerzevan Castle.” Anatolian Research, vol. 0, no. 28, 2023, pp. 119-142. [Database Container],


Coşkun A, Oğuz-kırca ED. An Evaluation of the Original Identity Problem and Structural Design of Zerzevan Castle. Anatolian Research [Internet]. 22 Jun. 2024 [cited 22 Jun. 2024];0(28):119-142. Available from: doi: 10.26650/anar.2023.28.1256264


Coşkun, Aytaç - Oğuz-kırca, E.Deniz. An Evaluation of the Original Identity Problem and Structural Design of Zerzevan Castle”. Anatolian Research 0/28 (Jun. 2024): 119-142.


Published Online17.07.2023


Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.


Istanbul University Press aims to contribute to the dissemination of ever growing scientific knowledge through publication of high quality scientific journals and books in accordance with the international publishing standards and ethics. Istanbul University Press follows an open access, non-commercial, scholarly publishing.