A castle built nearly 2,000 years ago in southern Turkey partially collapsed Monday following a series of deadly earthquakes that so far claimed over 3,000 lives in Turkey and Syria, according to Turkish news agency Anadolu.
Archaeologists believe the Gaziantep Castle has towered over Gaziantep, a city 20 miles from the quake’s epicenter, since about the first and second centuries, during the Roman period, according to the Turkish Ministry of Culture. It saw military and civil uses over the centuries, the ministry said.
The structure stood for centuries before Monday’s violent 7.8 earthquake leveled several of the twelve bastions believed to have been constructed during the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I in the mid-500s, Anadolu Agency reported.
Images shared by the news agency also showed the rubble from a collapsed retaining wall cascading over a large hill. The agency said some bastions showed signs of cracking.
The walls of a historical Mosque next to the castle also collapsed, the Anadolu Agency reported.
The castle, after multiple renovations and repairs spanning centuries and several regimes, reached its present incarnation by the 16th century, the culture ministry said.
It most recently served as the site of a new museum, Gaziantep Defense Heroism Panorama and Museum, which teaches about the castle’s role in the defense of the city in a war against French forces in the early 20th century.
Gaziantep Castle was not the only sensitive archaeological site thrashed by the quake.
The 13th century citadel in the ancient Syrian city of Aleppo, an UNESCO World Heritage site, also sustained “minor and moderate” damage, according to the Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums. Several parts of the citadel saw cracking and partial collapses, the agency said in a Facebook post.
The earthquake’s death toll had risen to 3,400 Monday night, officials said.
Contributing: John Bacon, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
Story Credit: usatoday.com