Underground city uncovered

By Kelly Jirsa

Underground city uncovered
Under a fortress in the middle of Turkey is potentially the largest ancient underground city discovered in the region.

Archaeologists in Turkey’s Cappadocia region, in central Anatolia, are slowly unravelling structures making up one of the largest ancient underground cities found in the region so far, potentially 460,000 square meters. The site was discovered underneath a fortress in Nevşehir.

The city, believed to be 5,000 or more years old, was discovered when low-income housing around the fortress was being demolished making way for a new construction project. When entrances to a network of tunnels were uncovered investigations by geophysicists and archaeologists began, halting the redevelopment.

Part of the journey to discover more about what they found took investigators to 300-year-old documents from the time of the Ottoman Empire. They found that there was evidence of nearly 30 major water tunnels, hinting at the multilevel settlement they were to find.

Careful excavations have been going on at the site since 2013. According to a National Geographic report and other sources, the team have found:

  • Living spaces,
  • Kitchens,
  • Staircases,
  • Wineries,
  • Chapels,
  • Air ventilation systems,
  • Exhausts for furnaces,
  • A visitors terrace or trades hall and
  • A Bezirhane, “linseed presses for producing lamp oil to light the underground city.”

Found amongst the labyrinth were artefacts like grindstones, furnaces for forging metal, and ceramics, objects that relay a history of civilian occupation.

Excavations are now underway on the fifth level of the site, painstakingly removing collapsed earth and determining where the further entrances they have found lead.

This laser scan-generated video explores a series of interconnected corridors and rooms in the underground city.

Video from the Nevşehir Municipality

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