2014 was indeed rich in seminal and noteworthy archaeological discoveries. Remember the 8000-year-old skull of a child, quite possibly the oldest surviving residue of the human brain, that was retrieved from a stone-age site in Norway? Or the tomb, dating back to Alexander the Great’s era, that was recovered from the Greek city of Amphipolis? Well ending the year on a high note, archaeologists recently unearthed a gigantic, 5000-year-old underground city, right in the middle of Central Turkey. Situated all around the Nevşehir fortress in the Cappadocia region of Central Anatolia, this impressive find is likely the world’s largest subterranean city ever to be found.
Famous for its spectacular fair chimneys, the Nevşehir province is also a well-known archaeological site. Once part of the Roman Empire, this area houses remnants of a number of former settlements. One such example is Derinkuyu, an historical underground city that was home to as many as 20,000 people during the Byzantine era. It consisted of multiple levels, all of which were carved out of existing volcanic rock. Extensive tunnel systems were used to connect one city with another. However according to Nevşehir mayor, Hasan Ünver, all of the other sites were merely the size of a “kitchen”, compared to the newly-discovered one. He was reported saying:
The underground city [was found] in the 45 hectares of the total 75 hectare area that is within the [urban] transformation project. We started working in 2012 with the project. We have taken 44 historical objects under preservation. The underground city was discovered when we began the destruction in line with the protocol. The first galleries were spotted in 2013. We applied to the [Cultural and Natural Heritage] Preservation Board and the area was officially registered.
Located near the city of Kayseri, the site was first uncovered during the execution of a housing project, by the Turkish Housing Development Administration (TOKI). It was only while laying the foundation for the new buildings that the officials came across this massive underground city. Although over 90 million Turkish Lira ($38 million) has already been spent on the project, Mehmet Ergün Turan, the head of TOKI, believes that the loss is insignificant in comparison to the enormity of the discovery. He said:
It is not a known underground city. Tunnel passages of seven kilometers are being discussed. We stopped the construction we were planning to do on these areas when an underground city was discovered.
The country’s Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation Board has named the city an archaeological site of paramount importance. So far, parts of various hidden tunnels, galleries and churches have been identified from the ruins. Additionally, 44 other artefacts have been recovered from the site.
Via: Hurriyet Daily News