Renovating a house is an exciting prospect. However, the actual process can be exhausting and at times, stressful. You’re looking at a lot of expenses for repairs, expansions, and the occasional problems you would encounter along the way. You’d be surprised how much attention your home needs. You might discover that it has faulty plumbing, incorrect wiring, or you might even have termites! But what if, as you dismantle your walls, you find out an underground city right in your basement? A well that has been hidden there more than 2,500 years?
The Biggest Find of the Century
Imagine discussing with your spouse that it’s time to give your home a makeover. You would finally have an excuse to strip that dirty old carpet and upgrade your furniture. And those walls make the house feel cramped so you might also consider breaking them down to give your living room an open concept layout like the one they show on HGTV. Now is the time to do that.
Of course, you don’t expect everything to go smoothly and anticipate that there will be hiccups along the way such as seeing wood planks that need to be replaced. But what if, instead of planks and faulty wiring, you discover a forgotten city? Don’t say impossible because that was precisely what happened in 1963 when a Turkish man stumbled upon a lost underground city that had been hiding down his basement for centuries!
A Hidden World Underneath an Ordinary House
You would find it hard to believe that this all just started in a basement. What this man thought as a simple DIY project turned out to be an important historical discovery. The homeowner could not afford to hire a professional contractor to renovate his house, so he has to do all of the work. All he wanted was to expand his home to accommodate his growing family.
He thought that it’s a good idea to start in the basement. The man took a sledgehammer and started knocking down some walls and slamming into wood and stone. He was at it for hours on end until the hours turned to days. Have you ever tried tearing down a stone wall? If you’ve never done it, you should know that it takes a lot more than just elbow grease.
What’s Hiding Behind the Wall?
As this Turkish homeowner hammered through his walls, he finally created a massive wall that he can look into. At first, it felt like an eternity as he cracked through plaster and stone. And as this stone crumbled, he was surprised to see that the debris fell through the other side! He didn’t expect that there would be a hollow space behind the wall.
He kept working until the hole became bigger and bigger. He kept pulling on the crumbled stones then finally realized that there was something hidden behind the wall. He decided to take a closer look, and as dust came falling around him, he lit a flashlight to see through the dark, but he thought that he would only see a small alcove. What he found instead left the Turkish man at a standstill.
[Next] Find out what happens when the wall finally breaks…
Breaking the Stone Wall
This unnamed man discovered a hallow opening behind the stone wall. He was determined to see what it was so he continued tearing it down some more until he realized that the opening was a lot deeper than he imagined it would be. It felt cool, and it seemed that the space beyond was well ventilated. The man put his tools away and followed his curiosity.
He went inside the opening and started to descend slowly into the earth. In case you didn’t know, the landscape of Turkey’s Cappadocia region is filled with volcanic rocks and decorated with underground caverns here and there. When the Turkish homeowner reached what seemed to be the end of the opening, he thought he discovered an underground cave. He was about to be blown away that it was so much more than that…
Critters and Snakes
The Turkish man walked into the pitch black chamber holding his flashlight. He had no idea what he was about to find. At the time, he could only see his own feet as he walked further into the darkness. He can tell that there were rooms inside, but they were narrow and cramped. The man was disappointed at first. He thought there must be more than meets the eye within those caverns. He was right to think so.
The homeowner went deeper and deeper, fumbling his way through the dark, his path illuminated only by a beam of light in his hand. He was cautious with his movements. He knew that places like this could be swarming with venomous snakes as well as spiders and scorpions. These critters like cold and dark places so it wouldn’t be surprising if they lurked there.
An Eerie Silence
Going deeper, the homeowner was impressed by the expanse of the tunnels. He couldn’t hear any sound in the chamber except for his breathing and the thuds of his footsteps. Suddenly, there was an echo. It sounded like a fallen stone. He jumped in surprise! He didn’t know what it was. The tunnels seemed to be an endless stone maze filled with dust and sand.
This made the man think of horror movies. He kept his flashlight close to him and put one hand on the walls to guide his way. Still, he kept pressing on into the dark, walking farther and deeper into the labyrinth of tunnels and caverns.
[Next] Keep reading to find out the story of the world behind the wall…
It Must Be Something Other Than Nature
Despite the man’s courage to continue in this journey, he was wondering how much further he has to go before he would give up and decide to turn back. He knows that it only takes a fall or a slip in the dark for him to get injured. If he did, he might end up in a tomb instead of a cave. Aside from that thought, he knew that there were a lot of crossroads and confusing turns inside those tunnels. He made sure to calculate his every move to avoid getting lost.
To his surprise, he saw structures that couldn’t have been formed by nature alone! Some stairs and archways were connected to these caverns. The more he looked around and explored whatever his small flashlight could reveal, the more he realized that this place could only have been human-made.
This Place Was Home to Many
Many other things in the cave told the Turkish man that man indeed made this. The layout appeared to be intentionally designed. However, if that was the case, it only raised more questions. Who would build such an impressive structure and just leave it behind?
The man tasted sand in the air and smelled cold well-water. He kept fumbling his way into the dark and finally found long shafts carving deep into the mountain. But that wasn’t all he encountered. As the man went deeper, a series of rooms appeared before him. That’s when he realized that there must have been living quarters, and there was a whole lot of them! It only meant that people lived here.
His Discovery Turned Out to Be a 2,500-Year-Old Structure
When the homeowner realized this, he started seeing the network of caves differently. He finally understood that these weren’t just caverns. These were smooth-carved hallways leading to chambers which had been built to accommodate family just like what he was trying to do with his home. At first, he thought that he just discovered an extension of a small cave which could have been used as a storage facility.
His initial guess was not impossible since many ancient temples were a thousand years old close to his home. The man came to realize that he uncovered a secret refuge which had been there for so many years! What he found was an entire underground city that had been forgotten by the world.
The Officials Were Notified
The chambers wound on and on like a complicated maze, and it was impressive how this simple homeowner did not get lost along the way. He was able to find his way back into his house. At the end of it all, the man returned to the earth’s surface and notified the Turkish government. When the officials investigated, they too, had no idea that they had come upon one of the most significant archeological discoveries of the century.
[Next] Read on to learn more about this lost city…
The Lost City of Derinkuyu
Who built this complicated network of tunnels and chambers? Up to now, historians are still not in agreement with each other. The Turkish Department of Culture came up with a theory. They stated that the Phrygians built Derinkuyu. These are people from Indo-Europe who had traveled there from the Southern Balkans. According to Greek mythology, their king, Midas turned objects into gold.
But in more recent sources, the ruler was named Mita-a. These are things not often taught in school. When the archeologists learned about the discovery of the hidden city, they immediately went to the location, wanting to see it for themselves and gain more understanding.
The Underground City Went 18 Stories Deep
The experts believe that this hidden city was enlarged in the Byzantine era. They said that more than 20,000 people lived there. Archeologists did excavations and learned that the caverns went down to 18 stories underground. It is now considered to be one of the most significant humanmade structures that were built during the ancient times.
The city wounds up to 200 feet under the earth’s surface, and it has incredibly precise engineering. If you compare with America’s statue of Lady Liberty, it would be about the same height from her base up to her shoulders. The sight of it might remind some people of the movie Planet of the Apes.
It Might Have Been Occupied By the Religious
There is a reason to believe that biblical peoples have once lived in this city. Researchers were determined to learn all that they can about this ancient structure. They found out that it was the Hittites who first inhabited the underground city. These people were ancient Anatolians who built empires around 1600 BC, and they were known to have occupied the Fertile Crescent which is now known as Turkey.
When the Hittites’ empire fell, political unrest took over the land. There was a power struggle among several nations, but the Persian Empire dominated the Iraqi region up to about 330 BC. A lot of scholars are in agreement that the Persians began building this magnificent underground city during those times that they reigned. But researchers did not stop with this information. They continued to dig deeper…
[Next] Continue reading to learn how this became confusing for scholars and historians…
Did the Hittites Come First or Was It the Phrygian?
If what the scholars believed were true, it would mean that the underground city has been there for more than 5,000 years! That would also suggest that the Derinkuyu would have been home to multiple civilizations. Among these are Persians, Macedonians, as well as the Greeks and other empires that have risen during those times. Given this fact, could it be that maybe one of them (other than the Persians) is responsible for constructing the underground city? Scholars have been trying to solve this puzzle for decades.
The City is Proof that Life Was Not Easy During the Ancient Times
Why would an ancient civilization put all these efforts to build a city under the earth? What was the point of it all? Simply put, life in the ancient world was not exactly easy. Aside from famine and disease ravaging the towns every now and again, you would have to witness wars all around you. These were the bloodiest times in early history. People were used to invasions, and they were always on the lookout for refuge.
It could very well be that the underground city served as a shelter for them to protect its citizens from the outside world. At first look, this place would look like a barbarian’s cave, but that would be a very inaccurate description. The underground network turned out to have quite a sophisticated design. To call it a cave would be an understatement. Archeologists were able to find rooms with various functions like kitchens, private chambers, and even places of worship.
Who Were They Hiding From?
So, who were the citizens hiding from? Just take a quick look at Macedonian history. During those times, the Macedonian empire was looking to expand to Persian territories. Alexander the Great was their emperor, and he started his ten-year conquests reaching out to this area.
Alexander wanted to expand his empire and Persia was one of his targets. So, he did and conquered Persia from 336 up to 323 BC.
Caught in the Crossfire
300 years later, people witnessed the deterioration of the Roman Empire which soon became the Byzantine Empire. When the latter started to decline, the Muslim Arabs began their dominion, and for hundreds of years, these empires conflicted. Bloodshed spread across nations, and the city of Derinkuyu was caught in the crossfire like many of them.
This is how they made use of the underground city. They took refuge in it and found temporary peace.
[Next] How else did the citizens of Derinkuyu made use of the underground city? Keep reading to find out…
Relying On Defense
The people of Derinkuyu used the underground metropolis as their haven many times. They took their livestock underground, and archeologists also found about a hundred entrances to the hidden city.
If the invaders found an entrance, the entryways were narrow and would only allow one man to pass through which would significantly slow them down. If the Derinkuyu learned of such a threat, they would have time to prepare for battle.
They Were Not Helpless
The citizens of Derinkuyu did not only hide from invaders. They had tight security, and the underground passageways were designed to keep intruders from easily passing through. Aside from this strategy, every level of the hidden city could be easily sealed by large boulders. They can do this at a moment’s notice. These were their most significant advantages.
The City Was Complete with All the Amenities
This network of tunnels was designed to keep its occupants alive. They could easily flee to the lower levels and hide until the opponents leave the upper levels. It was complete with food, water, and the place was well-ventilated. The occupants could survive for weeks underground.
They Blended With Nature
The whole city was methodically constructed so that attackers cannot go inside unexpectedly. If intruders discovered the ventilation holes, they would mistake it for a natural landscape divot which is a common sight in the area. They may also be cautious because these would often be home to snakes and other dangerous critters.
The city would look like nothing more than an abandoned area on the surface. Invaders wouldn’t think that they could take anything from such a place. They would only pass by and move on.
The underground refuge was home to more than 20,000 residents. Aside from kitchens and private chambers, archeologists found wine cellars, classrooms, and even stables. These people were prepared to stay underground for long periods of time. This means these ancient people have thought of underground bunkers long before.
[Next] What did they have to give up for underground life? Find out in the next slides…
Sacrifice for Safety
The citizens were aware that if it comes to it, they would have to hide underground for long periods of time. They knew that they would be protected from the outside world for a long time and it was a sacrifice they were willing to make.
Among their many sacrifices is the exposure to sunlight, feeling the natural cool breeze, or just lying under a starry sky. To keep sane under the tunnels, they could only keep themselves busy and practice patience. It paid off because the people of Derinkuyu were able to evade war for over 400 years.
They have also had plans of how to protect themselves in case their underground refuge becomes compromised. The Derinkuyu tunnels led to neighboring cities, and they can access them without having to surface above the ground. These escape routes connected them to safe places, and they could barricade the tunnels from the outside.
They could close down various levels in a case attacking soldiers found their way in. Once they are sealed, they could prepare themselves and equip themselves with their weapons to combat the invaders. Some of them were assigned to stand guard and patrol the tunnels.
Archeologists wondered how these people handled their dead having to live underground for long stretches of time. They found out that the architects of the underground city integrated temporary tombs into the tunnels.
They most likely used the isolated chambers to keep their dead cold and preserved until they can surface above again and conduct a proper burial.
The City Was Home to Other Occupants
As the Derinkuyu slowly disintegrated, other people fled to the underground city. Among them were the Christians who were hiding from the Turkish Muslim rulers. As new wars happened, new occupants came to the underground city.
It Became Useful In the Late 20th Century
When the Turkish homeowner discovered this magnificent historical structure, researchers found more underground cities in the area. They learned that the Derinkuyu tunnels were still in use up to the late 20th century. People hid there to escape prosecution in the world above.
More than Just for Wars
Despite the many things uncovered about the underground city, researchers still don’t know precisely who was responsible for constructing it. But the Turkish Department of Culture is convinced that the Phrygians built the Derinkuyu. It remains to be the largest underground settlement in Turkey.
Just the Facts
The underground city served many purposes, and the fact remains that it was an architectural feat. Derinkuyu rivals other wonders of the world. Some people might say aliens even built it. Despite not knowing who or what exactly built the underground city, one thing is for sure, and that’s it was made by the hands of the ancients.