A massive 5,000 year old underground city has been discovered in Turkey by the country’s Housing Development Administration (TOKI), according to reports Sunday.
The ancient city was found in the region of Cappadocia, province of Nevsehir, when some 1,500 buildings were demolished by the TOKI to start a new urban project.
“We stopped the construction we were planning to do on these areas when an underground city was discovered,” said TOKI director Mehmet Ergün Turan.
The approximately 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) long underground city consists of tunnels, churches and galleries, according to the archaeologic exploration team.
The discovery has been regarded as the biggest archeological finding of 2014.
Ergün said that while the TOKI had already spent US$38.6 million (90 million Turkish liras) on the new urban project, this does not mean that the investment is lost as the discovery may be the largest underground city in the world.
“The underground city [was found] in the 45 hectares of the total 75 hectare area that is within the [urban] transformation project,” said the Mayor of Nevsehir, Hasan Ünver. “We applied to the [Cultural and Natural Heritage] Preservation Board and the area was officially registered.”
The province of Nevsehir was already famous for its subterranean cities, including the one at Derinkuyu which is eleven levels deep.
“The other underground cities in Nevsehir’s various districts do not even amount to the “kitchen of this new underground city,” added Ünver.
ust who first built the underground structures and when remains something of a mystery. Archaeologists suspect the Phrygians, Persians or 15th century B.C. Anatolian Hittites may be responsible, but since the caves are carved from natural rock, it is difficult to trace their construction to a specific date. The first written evidence of the mysterious cities is not found until the 5th century B.C. in the Greek writer Xenophon’s “Anabasis,” which states that the region’s houses consisted of “underground structures with an aperture like the mouth of a well by which to enter, but they were broad and spacious below.”
While researchers still know very little about Nevşehir’s newest subterranean city, they have begun to speculate on how it was used. Özcan Çakır, a professor in the Geophysics Engineering department at Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University near Gallipoli, is one of the experts involved in excavating the new find. He told the Hurriyet Daily News that the complex might have functioned as a space for storing and transporting food and produce. “We believe that people who were engaged in agriculture were using the tunnels to carry agricultural products to the city,” he said. “We also estimate that one of the tunnels passes under Nevşehir and reaches a faraway water source.” A consistent underground climate of around 55 degrees Fahrenheit may have made the cave city an appealing location for preserving food. Even today, Turks in Cappadocia often use ancient underground buildings as storage for fruit and vegetables.
The new city is not the first underground settlement to be discovered by accident in Turkey. The famed subterranean complex at Derinkuyu was only unearthed in 1963, after a man making renovations to his home found a stone passageway behind one of his walls. A similar event took place in August of this year, when an Anatolian man stumbled upon a massive subterranean chamber while cleaning the floors of his house.
SOURCE : IBTIMES & HISTORY
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