Archaelogists have uncovered the ruins of an ancient city, dating back to the Iron Age that once housed temples and burial tombs of what may be ancient kings. The prehistoric city was found in present-day Turkey and reportedly dates back to the ninth century BC Urartian Kingdom.

Archaeologists also reportedly found a 50-meter-deep water tunnel that was likely the ancient civilisation's ingenious way to store water.

The lead researcher, Ömer Faruk Kızılkaya, was reportedly tipped off about rumours of treasure hunters digging for artefacts in the rural areas in the Dumlu neighbourhood, which spurned him to launch a large-scale investigation in the area, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

According to Kızılkaya, the stone tombs may likely belong to a king, a religious head or some other prominent figure of the Iron Age dynasty.

"This is the place where the funeral ceremonies of kings or people, who are highly respected by the public, were performed. We think there is a tomb here that belongs to either a king, ruler, or religious man," Kızılkaya reportedly said. "With simple classification, there are burial chambers made up of one room and ones with more rooms. These were designed especially as a space to be used for the dead in the afterlife by cutting the rocky area, smoothing the rocks and processing them. Even in ancient times, food was left here as a sacrifice for their beliefs."

Noting that the place has suffered damage because of the treasure hunters, he urged the government to declare it a protected site. He also stressed that the upper part of the recovered site needed more examination as he had found remains of a settlement where the king tombs were.

"This is an important area belonging to ancient times, a place where a ritual was made. We see the rock tombs. This place should be taken under protection for detailed study," he told the paper.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the Urartian Kingdom was located in the mountainous regions of southwest Asia between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, but at present is occupied by Turkey, Iran and Armenia.

The Iron Age civilisation shared similarities with the Assyrians, despite having been warring among each other to become the dominant Middle Eastern power. The ancient kingdom was established around 860BC and was conquered by ancient Iranians by 590 BC.

This is not the first time that the ruins of an Iron Age settlement have been discovered in Turkey. A 3,000 year-old fortress, also believed to belong to the Urartian Kingdom was recently discovered hidden under the waters of the largest lake in Turkey.