The fortress of Ayanis, 35 km. north of the modern town of Van, was built on a rocky hill measuring 100 x 400 metres, near the village of Agartı on the eastern shore of the Lake Van.
The Ayanis Fortress was built by Rusa II, a king of the Urartian Kingdom who ruled between 680 and 640 B.C. The citadel was constructed just after 673-672 B.C according to the last dendrochronological studies made by P. Kuniholm.
The excavations at the Ayanis Fortress began in 1989. The excavation team consists of Prof. Altan Çilingiroğlu, Ass/Prof. Dr. Zafer Derin, Asso/Prof. Eşref Abay, Ass/Prof. Haluk Sağlamtimur, M.A. Özlem Çevik, M.A. Aylin Ü. Erdem, M.A. Atilla Batmaz and M.A. Fulya Dedeoğlu from Ege University, Izmir; Prof. Dr. Mirjo Salvini from Rome, and Dr. Oscar White Muscarella of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Prof. Elizabeth Stone of the State University of NewYork, Stony Brook and Prof. Paul Zimansky of Boston University joined the excavation in 1997. Since then, work has been conducted in two different areas, designated the "Fortress" and "Outer Town".
The excavation at the fortress indicate two main occupation levels, Medieval and Iron Age II. The Medieval occupation is belong to the 10th or 11th centuries A.D., according to two Byzantine coins recovered at the site.
The fortification walls of Ayanis on the south slope are the most monumentally architecture of the fort. The walls were built with andesite-stone blocks measuring 0.75-0.50 m. The superstructure of this blocks are mudbrick. More than 110 bronze arrowheads were discovered in front of the south wall.
The monumentlal gate of the fortress was found on the south-east corner of the fortification walls (Area V). Its width is more than 4 metres. The gateway was paved with andesite-stone blocks and there was found a post-hole of the gate. Additionally, in 1993, there was found a bolt of door, which is made from iron.