Category Archives: TURKEY

A Man Renovating His Home Discovered A Tunnel… To A Massive Underground City

A Man Renovating His Home Discovered A Tunnel… To A Massive Underground City

In 1963, a man in the Nevşehir Province of Turkey knocked down a wall of his home. Behind it, he discovered a mysterious room and soon discovered an intricate tunnel system with additional cave-like rooms. What he had discovered was the ancient Derinkuyu underground city in Turkey.

The underground city was home to approximately 20,000 residents.

The elaborate subterranean network included discrete entrances, ventilation shafts, wells, and connecting passageways. It was one of the dozens of underground cities carved from the rock in Cappadocia thousands of years ago. It remained hidden for centuries.

Located almost exactly in the center of Turkey in the region best known as “Cappadocia,” this particular complex is located in the modern town of Derinkuyu.

Researchers think that the underground corridors may go much deeper, nevertheless, the exact size of them remains unknown.

That the man found this complex while digging out his house was surprising, as was its size, but Cappadocia was already famous for its underground dwellings. There are over two hundred known underground “cities” of various sizes in the region (most of them would more properly be called “villages” or “hamlets”).

At least forty of them have three or more levels, with Kaymakli and Derinkuyu having eight and eighteen (!), respectively. Most archaeologists believe that the caves were begun by the Phrygian people (one of the many “sea peoples” that invaded the Aegean and Turkish area from the west, and who are mentioned in ancient texts) in about the 7th or 8th centuries B.C.

Some believe the caves are older, and date from the Hittite period some five hundred years before that. Regardless of who dug it, the cave system at Derinkuyu especially was not built by “stupid troglodytes”–these were exceedingly smart troglodytes.

Probably the last residents of the city were the early Christians, but they weren’t the actual builders.
Then the city was forgotten for more than 1,000 years.

As one can imagine, there are many good reasons for building a city underground. First and foremost was likely defense, but of course, shelter from the weather was an important factor too. No wind, no rain or snow, protection from the blazing Mediterranean sun.

Another factor was access to water. Rivers and lakes run dry and enemies might control water sources in an effort to subdue your people, but if you are sitting directly on top of an aquifer, you’ve got all the water you’ll ever need.

The cleverness of the people at Derinkuyu is illustrated by the fact that one of the wells there (over two hundred feet down) was controlled by those on the deepest levels. Access to the wells could be closed tight with wood and stone so those above could not attempt to poison the water below.

There were stone-wheel doors at the entrances to the tunnels to protect residents from invaders.
Even if the enemy had gotten inside, he would have never gotten back to the surface without knowledge of the secret passages and labyrinth plan.

The stone in Cappadocia is soft volcanic rock left eons ago. One might call it sandstone, from its looks, but it is not. Though relatively easy to dig through (compared to granite, for example), it was still no small undertaking for the people of Cappadocia to dig out.

This also means that the stone can be carved easily. Later troglodytic complexes include elaborate early Christian churches, with arches embedded in the ceiling.

Security was built in. Entrances were in high or in very well-hidden places. The tunnels and stairways are just wide enough for one adult to make their way through – enemy warriors could only fight one on one in the corridors.

Oil lamps lit the halls, stairways, and dwellings, and could be extinguished by retreating warriors and families to confuse invaders. Dead-ends known only to those living in the complex would also add to any confusion.

Large circular stones could be rolled into tunnels, blocking further advance. During the original Turkish invasions in the 10th century, and into the Ottoman era, these caves were used as refuge and defense.

Some of the smaller troglodyte dwellings (and that’s what they’re called) are still inhabited. Many of the others were lived in until early in the 20th century.

The large complex at Kaymakli was last used as a refuge by Anatolian Greeks fearing the massacres that were taking place in the war between Turkey and Greece in the early 1920s.

Today, many of these underground cities and towns are open to the public and are Turkish national treasures.

Tourists are allowed to visit only a small part of the city where the maze is fenced so that nobody gets lost.

The large complexes at Kaymakli and Derinkuyu offer guided tours through the approximately ten percent of the cave systems that are open to the public.

1,600-Year-Old Bone Pendants Discovered in Turkey

1,600-Year-Old Bone Pendants Discovered in Turkey

The 1600 years old bones-shaped, human and animal-shaped pendants have been unearthed by an archeological dig at Assos, one of the most important port cities of antiquity.

In an interview with the state-run Anadolu Agency, Nurettin Arslan, Professor in the Department of Archeology, and Head of Excavations, at Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University, (ÇOMÜ) said that these were pendants dated from the 4th century B.C.

The ancient city is in Behramkale Village of Çanakkale Province’s Ayvacık District.

“There are two objects used as jewelry among those produced in the bone workshop to the west of the agora, one shaped like an animal and the other as a human. These must be part of jewelry which people used as necklaces in the ancient period,” Arslan said.

The professor also said that during the excavations, coins from the Byzantine Area to the Ottoman period were revealed.

“The largest group of coins uncovered in Assos are Byzantine (Eastern Roman) coins because the layers we are working on are mainly from the Byzantine period. These works show us that the Byzantine ruins in Assos archaeological site are a well-preserved center,” the professor said.

The findings show that there was an intense settlement in Assos between the fifth and seventh centuries. The settlement gradually decreased until the 12th century and eventually became a “small fortress” in the acropolis, Arslan said.

“Since there is no settlement, later on, we can say that the data related to urban planning, lifestyle functions of houses and daily life in the early Byzantine period are very valuable,” he said.

The professor underlined that one of the most archaic discoveries of the excavation works was stone axes made of granites.

“This stone axe was found on the surface in the necropolis area, but similar discoveries were made by Turkish archaeologists in the American excavations and during the 1990s,” he said.

“We have four axes dating back to the Chalcolithic period, to 5000 B.C. These axes are important such as they are traces showing that the settlement of Assos dates back to 5000 B.C.,” he added.

Founded on the summit and slopes of a volcanic hill at the southern end of the region, called “Troas” in ancient times, across the island of Lesbos in Greece, the city has been home to many societies for centuries.

One of its famous residents was Aristotle who together with the philosopher Xenocrates established a philosophical school at Assos.

It was the first ancient city where U.S. archaeologists excavated in the 1800s. It was excavated in 1981 after a long break.

The site, located 17 kilometers south of Ayvacık district, was accepted in the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage on April 15, 2017.

While 38 years of excavations have been carried out by Turkish scientists, new data for archaeology history have been revealed, and new scientists are also raised here.

1,800 Years of Voting Plates Found in Karabük

Ancient slab unearthed in Karabük Turkey

In the northern Karabuch province of Turkey, an ancient slab from around 1800 years ago has been discovered.

During excavation works in the ancient city of Hadrianopolis, 3 km east of Eskipazar district in the Province of Karabük, the slab of limestone with the silhouette of a woman found.

Ersin Çelikbaş, a faculty member in the Karabük University Department of Archeology, said that the slab has an inscription on it reading: “Herakleides, son of Glaukos, presented this.”

“The slab has a figure of a woman on it wearing a traditional dress, holding ears of wheat in her right hand and wearing a belt with a snake on her waist. Most probably, this is the goddess of the harvest and agriculture Demeter,” he said.

He also said that must have been highly respected in the Hadrianopolis during the Roman period because of the intensive viticulture activities.

An image of archaeological excavations in the ancient city of Hadrianaupolis.

The birthplace of the Saint Alypius the Stylite, the ancient city of Hadrianopolis was an important site of pilgrimage for early Christians until the city lost its importance in the 8th century A.D.

So far 14 dispersed public buildings and other structures were identified in the city, which was settled during the late Hellenistic, Roman and early Byzantine periods.

These public buildings consist of two baths, two churches, a defense building, rock tombs, a theater, an arched and dome-shaped building, a monumental cult niche, a wall, villas, other monumental buildings, and some cultic areas.

A bull, a lion and two peacocks figures also were found in the mosaics.

The bull on the mosaics represented Lucas and the lion represented Marcos and the church was dedicated to Marcos and Lucas, two very important figures in the Christian world, according to reports.

The floors of the churches are garnished with mosaics. These mosaics show figures of horses, elephants, deer, and gryphons . Because of this, the ancient city is compared to Zeugma in southeastern Turkey, which is famous for its mosaics.

After excavation works, the site will be opened for visitors.

Believed to have lived between the 6th and 7th centuries A.D., Saint Alypius the Stylite is one of the pillar-saints of the Christian faith, who climbed on top of pillars and spent the rest of his life preaching, fasting and praying.

Human teeth made into pendants in Turkey 8,500 years ago

Human teeth made into pendants in Turkey 8,500 years ago

In a prehistoric archaeological site in Turkey the first evidence of this practice in the Near East, a region that encompasses Western Asia and Turkey, researchers discovered two 8 500-year-old human teeth that were used as pendants in necklaces and bracelets.

The University of Kopenhagen researchers has stated that although evidence has shown that human teeth were used for ornamental purposes at European sites, this practice has never before been documented at these or subsequent periods in the Near East.

The study published by the Journal of Archeological Science on the basis of the rare findings revealed that the human teeth had deep symbolic significance for the people who wore them.

The researchers including scholars from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark uncovered three 8500 -year-old-teeth during excavations in Catalhoyuk, Turkey between 2013 and 2015.

They said the unearthed teeth appeared to have been intentionally drilled to be worn as beads in a necklace or bracelet.

Photo of first excavations at the site of the human teeth, Çatalhöyük.

On further analysis, the researchers confirmed that two of the teeth had indeed been used as beads or pendants.

“Not only had the two teeth been drilled with a conically shaped microdrill similar to those used for creating the vast amounts of beads from animal bone and stone that we have found at the site, but they also showed signs of wear corresponding to extensive use as ornaments in a necklace or bracelet,” said Scott Haddow, University of Copenhagen archaeologist and first author of the study.

According to the study, the two teeth pendants were probably extracted from two mature individuals postmortem.

“The wear on the teeth’s chewing surfaces indicates that the individuals would have been between 30-50 years old.

And since neither tooth seems to have been diseased-which would likely have caused the tooth to fall out during life, the most likely scenario is that both teeth were taken from skulls at the site,” Haddow added.

The most interesting insight from the study is the fact that human teeth and bone were not selected and modified more often, the researchers said.

“Because of the rarity of the find, we find it very unlikely that these modified human teeth were used solely for aesthetic purposes but rather carried profound symbolic meaning for the people who wore them,” Scott Haddow explained.

Human teeth found at the site together with a representation of the type of necklace that could have been used.

Haddow added that burials at the site often contained beads and pendants made from animal bone/teeth and other materials, indicating that it may have been a deliberate choice not to include items made from human bone and teeth with burials.

The researchers postulated that these human teeth pendants were perhaps related to specific – and rare – ritual taboos.

Mysterious flooding leads to the discovery of 5,000-year-old underground city in Turkey’s Cappadocia

Mysterious flooding leads to the discovery of 5,000-year-old underground city in Turkey’s Cappadocia

One of the most spectacular sights in the world is in Central Turkey – dark valleys and rock formations with homes, chapels, churches, mosques and entire underground towns, harmoniously cut into the natural landscape.

These unique underground havens have risen and fallen around cities, empires, and religions, and yet it seems they still hold a few more secrets.

Another massive underground city in Cappadocia has been uncovered by archeologists in Turkey, consisting of at least 7 km of caves, hidden churches and escape galleries, dating back some five thousand years.

Calling it the “biggest archeological finding of 2014”, Hurriyet Daily News announced that the ancient city was found beneath Nevşehir fortress and the surrounding area, during an urban transformation project carried out by Turkey’s Housing Development Administration (TOKİ). 

“Some 1,500 buildings were destructed located in and around the Nevşehir fortress, and the underground city was discovered when the earthmoving to construct new buildings had started,” writes Hurriyet Daily News.

Nevşehir province in Cappadocia, Turkey

Nevşehir province is already famous for its incredible subterranean city at Derinkuyu (pictured in featured image), 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

It is hard to imagine anything surpassing the Derinkuyu underground city in both size and scope, but archaeologists are saying they have reason to believe the newly discovered subterranean city will be the largest out of all the other underground cities in Nevşehir and may even be the largest underground city in the world.

Details regarding the dating of the site and how this was carried out, have not yet been released by those involved.

However, researchers have reported retrieving more than forty artifacts from the tunnels so far, so archaeologists may have reached the estimated date of 5,000 years based on those.

Numerous other known underground sites in Cappadocia have also been dated to this era.

Despite pouring 90 million Turkish Liras into the urban transformation project so far, the TOKİ has said it will move now their project to the outskirts of the city so that the newly found city, which is now officially registered with the Cultural and National Heritage Preservation Board, can be investigated and preserved.

TOKİ Head Mehmet Ergün Turan told Hurriyet Daily News that they do not view this as a loss considering the importance of the discovery.

“Hasan Ünver, mayor of Nevşehir, said other underground cities in Nevşehir’s various districts do not even amount to the “kitchen” of this new underground city,” reports Hurriyet Daily News.

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 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.

Now a discovery has been made that may overshadow them all.

The incredible cave houses of Cappadocia, Turkey.