Vast ancient underground city beneath Cappadocia being excavated
The newly-discovered subterranean city beneath Nevşehir in Turkey is mysterious, intriguing, and rich with history. The caves, tunnels, hidden churches, and escape galleries, which were uncovered late last year, honeycomb beneath the surface, and are thought to date back 5,000 years. High tech geo-radar equipment is now being used to detect the exact locations of chambers and passageways in the underground city, in order to excavate the ancient dwellings and uncover the secrets that lie hidden within.
“The data collected by the machine, which is operated by a technical team of three people, is then delivered to the excavation team. Thanks to data from this machine, the excavation process is able to be carried out in a way which limits the amount of damage to the structures of the city,” reports Turkish publication Hurriyet Daily News.
Once excavations are complete, the tunnels and chambers are planned on being opened to the public.
Archaeologists believe the tunnels may have been used to transport agricultural goods. Hurriyet Daily News notes that “forty-four historical objects have been taken under preservation.”
Expected to be classified as the biggest underground ancient city in the world, the dwellings were discovered in 2014 during construction and earthmoving projects by Turkey’s Housing Development Administration’s (TOKİ) urban transformation project. The city is approximately seven kilometers (three and a half miles) in size.
Tatlarin (Nevşehir), Turkey. Caves across the region have been carved out of the soft volcanic rock and used as dwellings, pathways, and storage. Public Domain
Through the ages, the Hittites, Persians, Alexander the Great, Rome, The Byzantine Empire, Ottoman Empire, and Turkey have all governed the spectacular region of Cappadocia in Central Anatolia. One hundred square miles with more than 200 underground villages and tunnel towns complete with hidden passages, secret rooms and ancient temples and a remarkably storied history of each new civilization building on the work of the last, make Cappadocia one of the world's most striking and largest cave-dwelling regions of the world. The most recent discovery under and around Nevşehir Fortress has officials and archaeologists excited.
Nevşehir province in Cappadocia, Turkey. Wikimedia Commons
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Nevşehir province itself is already renowned for the multi-level subterranean city, Derinkuyu, which was once home to as many as 20,000 residents living together underground. It is eleven levels deep and has 600 entrances and many miles of tunnels connecting it to other underground cities. It incorporates areas for sleeping, stables for livestock, wells, water tanks, pits for cooking, ventilation shafts, communal rooms, bathrooms, and tombs.
A reconstruction of what the Derinkuyu underground city is believed to have looked like (Wikipedia)
Big plans await the city after excavations have been completed. The historical site is important to tourism in Cappadocia.
Nevşehir Mayor Hasan Ünver tells Hurriyet Daily News, “The existence of this underground city, which consists of 11 neighborhoods around the Nevşehir Fortress, makes us very excited. We are using the latest technology in its cleaning. When the work is done, we plan to build places like boutique hotels, art galleries, handicraft centers, walking routes, a museum and meeting rooms in the underground city.”
The plans will introduce and reconnect people with the ancient past, giving visitors a feel for the lives and culture of those who carried out these magnificent constructions.
Featured Image: Derinkuyu underground city in Cappadocia, Turkey.
By Liz Leafloor