Divers In Turkey Searching For A ‘Lake Monster’ Uncover A 3,000-Year-Old Mystery
The more we learn, the more assured we are that all the mysteries of our planet are disappearing. There are those that believe we have seen every corner of the globe and there’s nothing new to discover, so we must turn to the stars in order to find new territories to explore. And while space is indeed the final frontier as Captain Kirk used to say, there are still countless wonders to unearth on, well… Earth.
While we have detailed maps covering every inch of the surface of our planet, the vast majority of it is covered in water, and we haven’t even scratched the surface of what lies beneath the surface. Terrifying creatures may lurk under the water in an environment that’s just as inhospitable to human life as outer space. Considering how much is unknown about what lives in the waters of our planet, it’s no wonder so many believe that monsters may dwell on our planet…
Do krakens and other giant, mythical beasts live in the waters of our planet? Many think so.
It’s not that far-fetched when you think about it. Several large, terrifying marine beasts lived during the time of the dinosaurs.
Who’s to say that some aren’t still around? We all know about the myth of the Loch Ness monster, but that isn’t the only watery creature that folks think is real, and there are those so convinced of their existence they’re willing to look for them…
This story takes place in Turkey. When you think of this province, “water monsters” might not be the first thing that pops into your mind.
But they have beautiful lakes, and one in particular inspires a lot of imagination and wonder in those who see it.
Located in the provinces of Van and Bitlis, Lake Van is the largest body of water in all of Turkey. But its size isn’t the only thing that makes this lake such a natural wonder.
The thing that truly makes this lake so special is the gorgeous water that fills it.
It’s also unusual that it’s not covered in ice, considering how cold it is. Despite being situated over 5,000 feet above sea level, Lake Van never freezes.
This is because the lake’s high salinity keeps the water flowing year-round. While this makes for an absolutely stunning view 365 days out of the year, this phenomenon has come at the price of Lake Van’s biodiversity.
Since the water is so high in salinity, very few creatures are able to survive in the lake.
In fact, because of these high salt levels, only one type of fish is known to live in the lake’s brackish waters: the Pearl Mullet.
But while these mackerel-sized fish are the only creatures that have been discovered to be lurking beneath the waves of Lake Van, local legends claim that they aren’t alone, and another type of aquatic life calls this place home.
For over a century, locals have reported sightings of a monster that resides in Lake Van.
Yes, just like Scotland has the Loch Ness monster, Turkey has its very own marine monster legend, and this is where all the claims come from.
However, like with Nessie, most of these claims have proven unfounded over the years. The biggest piece of evidence for this monster’s existence came in 1997 when Ünal Kozak managed to allegedly capture the creature on film.
Proof Of Existence?
In the video, a large, almost squid-like monster emerges from the water before slowly disappearing beneath the waves.
Here is a still image from that video. As you can see, this does appear to be some creature we’re not familiar with, and it certainly is monstrous in appearance.
Yet, like similar sightings of legendary creatures, the legitimacy of Kozak’s discovery continues to be a point of contention among scholars. This footage hasn’t convinced the masses that the monster is truly real.
Finding Out For Sure
Despite the claims of a monster living in Lake Van, archaeologists still explore the the lake.
Are they crazy? Brave? Possibly a combination of both (crazy brave). While they haven’t found definitive proof of the monster, they have found much more.
Just recently, an expedition lead divers to the very bottom of Lake Van. Did they find the monster, or an explanation of what might have been in the video? Actually, what they found was even more amazing than that…
It turns out that Lake Van is so spectacular that it inspired more myths than just the supposed resident monster.
A group of researchers assembled by Van Yüzüncü Yıl University arrived at the lake shore to debunk another age-old myth about this marvelous body of water.
Supposedly, the lost city of Atlantis was said to actually be somewhere beneath Lake Van. Believe it or not, this idea wasn’t so crazy, and it lead to a full on exploration to find out for sure.
The land surrounding Lake Van has a long, rich history, and was once home to the Urartians.
They were an ancient civilization that flourished in Turkey during the Iron Age over 3,000 years ago and were prominent dwellers of the area for hundreds of years.
Yet despite their centuries-long presence in the area, very few remnants from the days of these ancient people can be found. What happened to them? Could they have fallen into the waters?
What could have made a civilization that was around for so long leave so little behind?
Conquests in the area surely played a role in the disappearance of most Urartian structures, but some scholars believe the rising tides of Lake Van has something to do with it.
They theorize that these relics may have sunken beneath the water. Locating these structures would be no easy task, so the exploration team decided they would have to bring in a little extra help.
A veteran underwater photographer, Tahsin Ceylan was hired to lead the expedition’s dive team.
Ceylan was a diver with years of experience. Better yet, he also happened to have an extensive knowledge and familiarity with the waters of Lake Van.
He was the team’s best bet for uncovering this long-forgotten piece of history. With the team assembled and the best man available to lead them, they began their ambitious search for the lost Urartian kingdom that may have inspired the stories of Atlantis.
Lake Van Monster
But what of the monster of Lake Van? We’ve mentioned how widely spread this story was.
Surely a team of experts and a leader that had dived several times into the lake didn’t believe in these stories and wouldn’t be afraid… right?
Actually, Ceylan felt a little wary over the thought of the legend of the Lake Van Monster the day of the dive. He’d dived here hundreds of times before, but he had never gone so deep and worried about encountering the creature.
It wasn’t just the leader that had these concerns, either. The entire team were also hesitant.
You have to realize, when you grow up hearing these stories your entire life, you can’t help but believe them just a little when entering the belly of the supposed beast.
As they dove deeper into the lake, it became increasingly difficult to shake this unnerving thought. After all, in a body of water as large and murky as this one, almost anything could be lurking just a few feet below.
Once they’d reached the bottom of Lake Van, Ceylan and his team quickly set to work.
They combed the sands for any sign of Urartian artifacts. It didn’t take long until one of them found what would turn out to be a huge discovery.
Was it the squid monster? That’s what they thought at first. Because almost immediately after they began the search, one of the divers spotted an enormous shadow that filled everyone with a sense of absolute dread.
They all froze, hoping not to draw any attention to themselves in the event this truly was a massive creature.
However, the shadow didn’t move. Whatever this was, it was certainly large, but it didn’t appear to be alive.
Shrouded in the deep, dark blue of the lake’s bottom, they couldn’t see it from where they were, so they had to swim closer. The divers mustered up all their courage and swam toward the sight. What could it be?
It wasn’t an underwater dragon, but it was something just as fantastical: an underwater castle!
Considering that it had been underwater for thousands of years, the towering structure was actually in remarkable condition. It had somehow been preserved all this time.
Its walls and foundation were still intact. Was this castle truly a relic from the long-forgotten Urartian empire? Had they already found what they set out to find this quickly? They needed to know more, so the exploration continued.
As Ceylan and his team continued exploring the ruins, one of the divers stumbled upon something that caught all of their attention.
They spotted a revelatory etching on one of the walls that depicted a lion. This all but confirmed the castle was Urartian.
The civilization had used symbols such as these to identify themselves as a kingdom for centuries. The myths and theories were all true! It appeared that the reason this civilization disappeared is because it sank underwater.
Return To The Surface
After snapping photos of the structure, the divers returned to the surface to share their findings.
The rest of the team were obviously shocked at the discovery. They were thrilled and gleeful, but they couldn’t believe they had found it so quickly and easily.
However, it turned out things weren’t as quick and easy as they initially thought. Upon learning of the lion symbol, things quickly became complicated, and the mystery from the deep deepened even further than before.
The Urartians did in fact use the lion motif for hundreds of years. But they weren’t the only civilization in history to do this.
Once this discovery was made public, some scholars were quick to point out that they believed the lion symbol looked more medieval than ancient.
If this was the case, then the castle would date back to the Middle Ages rather than the Iron Age. So that raises another question: if this wasn’t the long lost Urartian civilization… who was it?
The structure itself also supported this medieval theory, however, it was even more complicated than that.
The stones used to build it were actually a mix of both Urtartian and medieval. This lead experts to deduce the kingdoms of the Middle Ages likely repurposed materials from these ancient ruins to build their own fortresses.
The archaeological community remains split over the true origin of the castle beneath Lake Van to this day. Meanwhile, the mystery of the Lake Van still hasn’t been solved. Only one thing is known for certain: this is probably the most mythical lake on the planet!