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Derinkuyu Underground City

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Derinkuyu Underground City

A passage in the Underground City

The Derinkuyu underground city (Cappadocian Greek: Ανακού) is an ancient multi-level underground city in the Derinkuyu district in Nevşehir Province, Turkey. Extending to a depth of approximately 60 m, it was large enough to shelter approximately 20,000 people together with their livestock and food stores. It is the largest excavated underground city in Turkey and is one of several underground complexes found across Cappadocia.

It was opened to visitors in 1969 and to date, about half of the underground city is accessible to tourists.

Features

One of the heavy stone doors. They have a height of 1–1,5 m, 30–50 cm in width and weigh 200–500 kg. The hole in the centre can be used to open or close the millstone, or to see who is outside.[1]

The underground city at Derinkuyu could be closed from the inside with large stone doors. Each floor could be closed off separately.

The city could accommodate up to 20,000 people and had all the usual amenities found in other underground complexes across Cappadocia, such as wine and oil presses, stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, and chapels. Unique to the Derinkuyu complex and located on the second floor is a spacious room with a barrel vaulted ceiling. It has been reported that this room was used as a religious school and the rooms to the left were studies.[2]

Between the third and fourth levels is a vertical staircase. This passage way leads to a cruciform church on the lowest (fifth) level.

The large 55 m ventilation shaft appears to have been used as a well. The shaft also provided water to both the villagers above and, if the outside world was not accessible, to those in hiding.

History

'School' in the Underground City
Caves may have first been built in the soft volcanic rock of the Cappadocia region by the Phrygians, an Indo-European people, in the 7th–8th centuries B.C., according to the Turkish Department of Culture.[3] When the Phrygian language died out in Roman times, replaced with Greek,[4] to which it was closely related,[5] the inhabitants, now Christian, expanded their underground caverns adding the chapels and Greek inscriptions. The city at Derinkuyu was fully formed in the Byzantine era, when it was heavily used as protection from Muslim Arabs during the Arab–Byzantine wars (780-1180).[6][7] The city was connected with other underground cities through miles of tunnels. Some artifacts discovered in these underground settlements belong to the Middle Byzantine Period, between the 5th and the 10th centuries A.D. These cities continued to be used by the Christian natives as protection from the Mongolian incursions of Timur in the 14th century.[8][9] After the region fell to the Ottomans the cities were used as refuges (Cappadocian Greek: καταφύγια) from the Turkish muslim rulers.[10] As late as the 20th century the locals, called Cappadocian Greeks, were still using the underground cities to escape periodic waves of Ottoman persecution.[11] Dawkins, a Cambridge linguist who conducted research on the Cappodocian Greek natives in the area from 1909-1911, recorded that in 1909, When the Christian inhabitants of the region were expelled in 1923 in the Population exchange between Greece and Turkey the tunnels were abandoned.[12]

The tunnels were rediscovered in 1963, after a resident of the area found a mysterious room behind a wall in his home. Further digging revealed access to the tunnel network.[13]

Other underground cities

An underground winery

Nevşehir Province has several other historical underground cities and Derinkuyu connects to Kaymakli via an 8 km tunnel.

The underground cities and structures are carved out of unique geological formations. They may have been used as hiding places during times of raids. The locations are now archaeological tourist attractions. They remain generally unoccupied. In excess of 200 underground cities containing a minimum of two levels have been discovered in the area between Kayseri and Nevsehir. Some 40 of those contain a minimum of three levels or more. The cities at Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu are two of the best examples of habitable underground structures.

See also

References

  1. ^ Nevşehir > Subterreanean Settlements of Cappadocia > Structural Features
  2. ^ Nevşehir > Underground Settlements > Derinkuyu Underground City
  3. ^ Turkish Department of Culture
  4. ^ Swain, Simon; Adams, J. Maxwell; Janse, Mark (2002). Bilingualism in Ancient Society: Language Contact and the Written Word. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. pp. 246–266.  
  5. ^ Woodard, Roger D. The Ancient Languages of Asia Minor. Cambridge University Press, 2008, ISBN 0-521-68496-X, p. 72. "Unquestionably, however, Phrygian is most closely linked with Greek."
  6. ^ Horrocks, Geoffrey C. (2010). Greek: A History of the Language and Its Speakers. John Wiley & Sons. p. 403.  
  7. ^ Darke, Diana (2011). Eastern Turkey. Bradt Travel Guides. pp. 139–140.  
  8. ^ Kinross, Baron Patrick Balfour (1970). Within the Taurus: a journey in Asiatic Turkey. J. Murray. p. 168.  
  9. ^ Dawkins, R.M. (1916). Modern Greek in Asia Minor. A study of dialect of Silly, Cappadocia and Pharasa.. Cambridge University Press. p. 17. Retrieved 25 October 2014. these excavations are referred to as long ago as the campaigns of Timour Beg, one of whose captains was sent to hunt out the inhabitants of Kaisariyeh, who had taken refuge in their underground dwellings, and was killed by an arrow shot through the hole in one of the doors. 
  10. ^ Dawkins, R.M. (1916). Modern Greek in Asia Minor. A study of dialect of Silly, Cappadocia and Pharasa.. Cambridge University Press. p. 16. Retrieved 25 October 2014. their use as places of refuge in time of danger is indicated by their name καταφύγια, and when the news came of the recent massacres at Adana [in 1909], a great part of the population at Axo took refuge in these underground chambers, and for some nights did not venture to sleep above ground. 
  11. ^ Dawkins, R.M. (1916). Modern Greek in Asia Minor. A study of dialect of Silly, Cappadocia and Pharasa.. Cambridge University Press. p. 16. Retrieved 25 October 2014. their use as places of refuge in time of danger is indicated by their name καταφύγια, and when the news came of the recent massacres at Adana [in 1909], a great part of the population at Axo took refuge in these underground chambers, and for some nights did not venture to sleep above ground. 
  12. ^ Dawkins, R.M. (1916). Modern Greek in Asia Minor. A study of dialect of Silly, Cappadocia and Pharasa.. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  13. ^ http://sometimes-interesting.com/2014/05/09/derinkuyu-the-underground-cities-of-cappadocia/. 

Further reading

External links

  • Cavetowns and gorges of Cappadocia
  • Underground Cities of Cappadocia - Myth and Truth(in German)
  • Derinkuyu Underground City
  • underground cities in Cappadocia
  • Derinkuyu & The Underground Cities of Cappadocia Sometimes Interesting. 09 May 2014

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