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Why Was Waldemar Belck Shot?

Bülent Genç
p. 89-96


From the beginning of the 19th century onwards, researchers and travellers from various fields and occupations visited the eastern and southern provinces of the Ottoman State to carry out work related to their fields. Recognition of various archaeological remains and sites dating from different periods, along with the discovery of the East, the region of Mesopotamia and a deep-rooted past resulted in an increased interest by these people in these regions. With the rivalry among some museums in Europe to improve their displays and collections focusing on these regions, the eastern and southern provinces of the Ottoman State became the target of various excavations and surveys. However, these research and investigations that went on throughout the 19th century did not always end in a positive way in terms of the safety of the researchers. Vital problems that could potentially even result in death arose during the work of various researchers at various times in these regions. To give an example, Friedrich Eduard Schulz, a researcher in the region, was killed around Hakkari during his work (Potts, 2017, pp. 249-270; Ainsworth, 1842, p. 294). Waldemar Belck (Fig. 1) also encountered such a situation while he was carrying out research on the Kingdom of Urartu in the region of Van. Belck got injured and could survive only by chance. In this article, I will discuss this incident involving Belck and its consequences.

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Full text document will be published online on December 2022.



First lines

Fig. 1: Waldemar Belck, and Urartian pithoi behind, possibly in Van

Fig. 1: Waldemar Belck, and Urartian pithoi behind, possibly in Van

Schachner, 2009, p. 260, Abb. 248

Belck was occupied with copper mining as a chemist for the German company Siemens in Transcaucasia before he arrived at the eastern parts of the Ottoman Empire and at the Van region (Belck, 1893, pp. 61-82). The discoveries of Belck including cemeteries, prehistoric burials, ancient ruins and cuneiform inscriptions caught the attention of ancient historian and linguist Carl Friedrich Lehmann. As the archaeological materials discovered by Belck coincided with Lehmann’s areas of interest, the two met and started to work together from the 1890s onwards (Lehmann-Haupt, 2015, p. 7). Henceforth, the names of these two men were often mentioned together in the history of Urartian studies.

Belck first obtained a permit from the Ottoman State for his initial research in the region of Van in 1891. A telegram sent by the Ottoman State to the provinces of Van and Trabzon s...

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Bibliographical reference

Bülent Genç, “Why Was Waldemar Belck Shot?”Anatolia Antiqua, XXVIII | 2020, 89-96.

Electronic reference

Bülent Genç, “Why Was Waldemar Belck Shot?”Anatolia Antiqua [Online], XXVIII | 2020, Online since 01 December 2022, connection on 09 December 2021. URL:; DOI:

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About the author

Bülent Genç

Mardin Artuklu University, Faculty of Letters Department of Archaeology, Turkey

By this author

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Anatolia Antiqua

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