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Project leader Tahsin Ceylan, from Van Yüzüncü Yıl University, was at first searching the lake for another legend – the frightening Lake Van monster.

In fact, just last year they found 4 square kilometers (1.5 square miles) of stalagmites, which they nicknamed “underwater fairy chimneys”.

They even found gravestones dating back 1,000 years.

Turkic languages are distributed over a vast area in eastern Europe and Central and North Asia, ranging, with some interruptions, from the Balkans to the Great Wall of China and from central Iran (Persia) to the Arctic Ocean.

The core area, between the 35th and 55th parallels, includes a western section comprising Asia Minor, northern Iran, and Transcaucasia, a central West Turkistan (Russian) section to the east of the Caspian Sea, and an East Turkistan (Chinese) section beyond the Tien Shan.

The linguistic history of the Turkic languages can be followed in written sources from the 8th century on.

Attempts at interpreting earlier materials as Turkic (e.g., the identification of Hunnic elements in Chinese sources from the 4th century ) have failed.

The language of the Proto-Bolgars, reportedly similar to the Khazar language, belonged to the latter type.

Its only modern representative is Chuvash, which originated in Volga Bolgarian and exhibits archaic features.

"We now believe we have discovered a new area for archaeologists and historians to study," said Ceylan.

Turkic languages, group of closely related languages that form a subfamily of the Altaic languages.

"There was a rumour that there might be something under the water but most archaeologists and museum officials told us that we won't find anything," Ceylan told the Daily Sabah. After about a decade of searching, the team's efforts were finally rewarded.