Recently, another ancient underground city was discovered in Turkey and it is believed that up to 70 thousand people could hide in it. If so, this makes the new city the largest of all similar underground cities found by archaeologists.
Many of you have probably heard about the ancient city of Derinkuyu, which is located in Turkey and was dug underground about 3-4 thousand years ago. Derinkuyu has 8 tiers (floors) and goes to a depth of 60 meters. It was discovered by archaeologists in 1963 and still impresses historians.
However, Derinkuyu is not even the largest Turkish underground city in terms of area. Not far from it is the city of Nivsehira, founded at about the same time as Derinkuyu, and having both underground and above-ground buildings. People still live in it (more than 67 thousand people), and in ancient times, at least 20 thousand could accommodate its underground part.
In total, there are several dozen underground complexes in Turkey, of which six are so large that they are called cities. In fact, under every ordinary settlement, in ancient times, residents dug underground levels to hide from enemies (according to historians) in case of their raids.
The underground cities of Turkey are unique historical complexes, characteristic only of this territory. It is believed that they were erected because the volcanic rock was easily processed, and then, upon contact with fresh air, it hardened and became very stable.
So the underground caves and tunnels that were dug out were very reliable and have been preserved for thousands of years.
Two years ago, archaeologists discovered a new underground city in Turkey, and it turned out to be so big that they have dug out about 3% of its territory so far. According to them, it may be the largest underground city in the world. Every day, these excavations unearth many rooms, tunnels, hidden passages and artifacts.
The city was named Matiate (“City of caves”). It was discovered by accident while cleaning and preserving historic streets and houses in the city of Midyat, Mardin province.
The workers were clearing the previously known underground room when they discovered a passage into some unknown tunnels. Excavations have shown that under Midyat there are many ancient underground rooms connected by tunnels.
Various household items were found in the rooms, and the walls were painted with various signs. The dating of the artifacts showed an age of almost 2 thousand years, so this city is probably younger than Derinkuyu and Nivsehir.
Gani Tarkan, director of the Mardin Museum and leader of the excavations at Matiat, says their excavations look set to expand to the entire area:
“Midyat has been in continuous use for 1900 years. It was first built as a refuge or as an escape route. As you know, Christianity was not an official religion in the second century AD and groups that converted to Christianity tend to take refuge in underground cities to avoid persecution by Rome.
“Or they themselves built underground cities. Perhaps Midyat was one of the residential tiers they built for this purpose. And according to our estimates, at least 60-70 thousand people could take refuge in these rooms and corridors. ”
To date, archaeologists have unearthed 49 rooms, including likely places of worship, water wells, food storage “pantry” as well as numerous corridors and tunnels, and they estimate that this is only 3% of the total size of the underground city.