Category Archives: TURKEY

Derinkuyu: the advanced underground city in Turkey using ventilation shafts that could date as far back as 15th century BC

Derinkuyu: the advanced underground city in Turkey using ventilation shafts that could date as far back as 15th century BC

Derinkuyu is the deepest excavated underground city in Cappadocia in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey. A beautiful natural wonder with impressive fairy chimneys and eroded caverns, Cappadocia is an amazing geological spectacle.

It is also riddled with extensive subterranean dwellings and secret tunnel passages that various people utilized for shelter across the centuries.

There are hundreds of these homes in the region, and Derinkuyu is the most famous. At a depth of more than 250 feet with a capacity of up to 20,000 people, this multi-leveled city contained everything an entire population would need to survive a history riddled with invasions.

Formation and Discovery

Several million years ago, volcanic eruptions spewed layer after layer of ash, called tuff or tufa. Over time the tuff cemented into a soft, easily carvable, yet relatively stable rock. Inhabitants of ancient Anatolia realized that they could carve out their homes right into the hillsides and underground. Derinkuyu is one of the many rock-cut dwellings in the region, however, it is the deepest one to date.

The discovery of the subterranean dwellings occurred in 1963 during the renovation of a surface home. When a wall caved in, an underground room that led to a subterranean passageway opened up. Upon exploration of the passageway, the workers realized that it led even further into a deep labyrinth. It was an astonishing find.

Features of Derinkuyu

Within the enormous eighteen levels of the city (only eight are accessible), researchers found kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, food storage rooms, oil and wine presses, wells, weapons storage areas, churches, schools, tombs, and domestic animal stables.

There were rooms of varying sizes for different needs. Small spaces turned out to be rock-cut tombs, while large spaces provided the ideal rooms for community meetings and schools.

It is evident that the people planned to be completely self-sufficient. More than fifty ventilation shafts brought in the air from above, while thousands of smaller ducts distributed that air throughout the entire city.

Some archaeologists believe that an 8-kilometer long passageway connects Derinkuyu to another amazing underground city in Kaymakli. This suggests that there was some degree of cooperation between the various civilizations of the Cappadocia region.

The winery.
The Derinkuyu underground city is an ancient multi-level cave city in Cappadocia, Turkey. Stone used as a door in the old underground city

What is the Age of Derinkuyu and Who Built It?

The age of Derinkuyu and who built it is uncertain. It is known that the Hittites dominated the Anatolia region from about 1600 BCE to about 1200 BCE.

After this period, the Hittite Empire collapsed into smaller groups, possibly due to multiple invasions and wars. Subsequently, the Phrygians migrated to the area from the Balkans. Thus, if the Hittites built the dwelling, as a number of scholars believe, it may have been well before 1200 BCE.

Other experts theorize that the Phrygians built the subterranean city, which could have taken place between 1200 BCE and 800 BCE. Later, Persians, Macedonians (Alexander the Great), Greeks, Armenians, Syrians, and many other groups had a presence in Cappadocia.

The earliest known mention in writing of underground cities in the Cappadocia kingdom came from a Greek historian-soldier named Xenophon in 370 BCE. Xenophon spent time and traveled throughout the region. In his work, Anabasis he says:

The houses here were underground, with a mouth like that of a well, but spacious below; and while entrances were tunneled down for the beasts of burden, the human inhabitants descended by a ladder. In the houses were goats, sheep, cattle, fowls, and their young; and all the animals were reared and took their fodder there in the houses.

Uses as a Shelter

Safety Designs

The people who built Derinkuyu designed it with safety features, which indicates that the underground dwellings served as refuges. Doors consisted of a rollable disc-shaped stone with a small hole in the middle that covered entrances and passages during raids.

Some people speculate the hole allowed soldiers to shoot arrows out, or perhaps a strong beam through the hole allowed users to open and shut the door more easily.

It may also have served as one of the first “peepholes.” Because the doors only opened and closed from the inside, the inhabitants within the complex had complete control. It was much easier to defend the village through a small opening versus a large opening through which anyone could easily walk.

Heavy disk-shaped door provided security during raids.

Each level connected to the next level by a hallway with a similar stone door. Additionally, narrow passages forced people to go through in single file. Again, this made it much easier to defend against incoming soldiers.

The underground city had a water containment system that also took safety as a consideration. It appears that one of the main ventilation shafts also served as a large well.

Main ventilation shaft and well.

However, the wells within the city did not all link together, nor did they all go to the surface. This protected inhabitants from invaders who might think to poison the entire water system from the outside.

Inside The Mysterious Gobekli Tepe, The Oldest Temple In The World

Inside The Mysterious Gobekli Tepe, The Oldest Temple In The World

More than 200 carved stone pillars, carefully arranged in tightly packed circles, stood proudly on the Göbekli Tepe hill in southeastern Anatolia (modern Turkey).

This ancient stone circle, thought to be a Neolithic temple, is 6,000 years older than Stonehenge and much more complex. This is the site some historians call the twentieth century’s most important archeological find and the first temple in the world.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, Göbekli Tepe was first discovered in 1994 by Klaus Schmidt of the German Archaeological Institute. The area around the site had long been earmarked for further investigation, as its dome-shaped hill bore all the signs of a “tell”, a mound created as a result of the deposits of ancient settlements.

Schmidt quickly realized that the site at Göbekli Tepe was far more significant than the medieval burial site hypothesized by earlier archaeologists. In an interview with Andrew Curry for Smithsonian Magazine, Schmidt explained that it didn’t take his team long to uncover the first series of stone megaliths, close to the surface.

Digging deeper, the archaeologists unearthed more pillars, decorated with elaborately carved figures. These immense standing stones were arranged in circles and would have supported additional huge stone blocks, some of which weighed more than 10 tons.

Erecting these stone pillars and placing such heavy blocks on top of them would have required an immense feat of engineering. Yet the site was constructed in 9,500 BC, thousands of years before the development of written language and agriculture, and well before human beings began to develop permanent settlements and cities.

Pillar 2 from Enclosure A (Layer III) with low reliefs of what are believed to be a bull, fox, and crane. 

“This is the first human-built holy place,” said Schmidt. The archaeologists were able to date Göbekli Tepe by comparing weapons and tools found at the site to similar objects from the 10th millennium BC, and their hypotheses were later confirmed by partial radiocarbon dating.

Pillar 27 from Enclosure C (Layer III) with the sculpture of a predatory animal
Pillar 27 from Enclosure C (Layer III) with the sculpture of a predatory animal

The team found no traces of human settlement around the site: no remains of houses, ovens or trenches for rubbish. Instead, they found many animal bones within the temple, which bore the signs of having been butchered and cooked. All of the animal bones excavated came from local game, predominately gazelle, boar, sheep, deer and wild fowl, which suggests that the people who made and used the site were nomadic hunter-gatherers.

Pillar with the sculpture of a fox.

The discovery of Göbekli Tepe has major implications for our understanding of the way in which early human societies developed. Traditional scholars have long maintained that the development of sophisticated human society was contingent on the transition from a hunter-gatherer to agrarian way of life.

According to this narrative, it was only once humans had developed permanent settlements and systems of agriculture and farming that they were able to have the time, organization and resources to develop temples and complicated social structures.

Although this theory has been challenged by archaeologists and anthropologists in recent decades, the discovery of Göbekli Tepe finally provides hard evidence to support an alternative point of view. Nomadic, hunter-gatherer societies in Anatolia constructed large, complex temples before they developed agricultural practices and formed permanently settled communities.

View of excavations at Göbekli Tepe site. 

Indeed, according to Smithsonian Magazine, in the 1,000 years following the construction of the temple, permanent settlements do appear in other parts of Anatolia and northern Syria, providing some of the earliest evidence for the cultivation of wheat crops and the domestication of cattle. It is possible that the construction of the temple at Göbekli Tepe was actually the precursor for human settlement and agriculture, not the other way around.

Archaeological work in Göbekli Tepe

However, the specific function of the site at Göbekli Tepe remains a mystery. Until his death in 2014, Schmidt remained convinced that it was an important religious temple, and his view is supported by the elaborate carvings on the pillars. These include images of scorpions, lions, snakes, and vultures, a collection of symbols that are associated with religion, death and the afterlife in other ancient cultures of the Near East.

The site could also have been used as a place for political gatherings or cultural celebrations, but Schmidt argued that it was more likely to have been a burial place for renowned hunters.

“Be cheerful, enjoy your life” says happy skeleton mosaic found in Turkey

“Be cheerful, enjoy your life” says happy skeleton mosaic found in Turkey
“Be cheerful, enjoy your life” says happy skeleton mosaic found in Turkey

In the ruins of a 3rd Century B.C house, Turkish archeologists came across an incredible find: a mosaic that features a skeleton with a large loaf of bread and a pitcher of wine.

Besides, the imagery of a skeleton having a blast with the bread and the wine.

one section of the three-panel also features an optimistic message  written in Greek that reads: “Be cheerful and live your life.”

The extremely well-preserved ancient mosaic was discovered in a house in Turkey’s southern state, Hatay Province, in the provincial capital of Antakya.

The 3th-century “meme” was discovered during construction of a cable car system.

An archaeologist from the Hatay Archaeology Museum, Demet Kara explained that the mosaic entitled  “skeleton mosaic,” was an elaborate centerpiece of a mosaic floor in the dining room of the house.

There are three scenes on glass mosaics made of black tiles. Two things are very important among the elite class in the Roman period in terms of social activities: The first is the bath and the second is dinner.

In the first scene, a black person throws fire. That symbolizes the bath. In the middle scene, there is a sundial and a young clothed man running towards it with a bare-headed butler behind.

The sundial is between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. 9 p.m. is the bath time in the Roman period. He has to arrive at supper at 10 p.m. Unless he can, it is not well received.

There is writing on the scene that reads he is late for supper and writing about time on the other.

In the last scene, there is a reckless skeleton with a drinking pot in his hand along with bread and a wine pot.

The writing on it reads ‘be cheerful and live your life,’” explained Kara“[This is] a unique mosaic in Turkey.

There is a similar mosaic in Italy but this one is much more comprehensive.

It is important for the fact that it dates back to the 3rd century B.C.,” “Antiocheia was a very important, rich city. There were mosaic schools and mints in the city. she added.