New details emerge in massive ancient underground city discovery in Cappadocia
Erdinç Çelikkan ANKARA
New details have been revealed about the massive ancient underground city discovered in Turkey’s Central Anatolian province of Nevşehir.
The tunnels of the underground city are located under a conical-shaped hill and are wide enough for a car to pass through.
Özcan Çakır, associate professor at the Geophysics Engineering department of the 18 March University and involved in the excavations of the underground city, said they believe the tunnels were used to carry agricultural products.
“We believe that people, who were engaged in agriculture, were using the tunnels to carry agricultural products to the city. We also estimate that one of the tunnels passes under Nevşehir and reaches a faraway water source,” said Çakır.
Being potentially the year’s biggest archaeological discovery, the area around the underground city in Nevşehir is best known world-wide for its Fairy Chimneys rock formations.
“There is a fortress on top of a conical-shaped hill; it is alleged to belong to the Seljuks. We made geophysical measurements in an area of four square kilometers and the [underground] city was surrounding the fortress in circular forms,” said Çakır, adding that it seemed as though two-thirds of the fortress was carved by means of the tunnels.
The underground city was discovered by a Turkey’s Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) urban transformation project. Some 1,500 buildings located in and around the Nevşehir fortress were demolished, and the underground city was discovered when the earthmoving to construct new buildings had begun.
Hasan Ünver, mayor of Nevşehir, said they were going to meet with the TOKİ head and make a plan regarding the underground city.
“Some malevolent people began saying ‘history will be destroyed.’ The head of TOKİ will come after the New Year and new work will begin. We said, ‘Either you transfer the area to us and we conduct the cleaning and restoration work, or you transfer it to the ministry and they will conduct the work.’ We are at this stage in the process; no transfer to any institution has been made,” said Çakır.
TOKİ Head Mehmet Ergün Turan had said after the initial discovery of the ancient city that the area would be preserved as an archaeological site.
“It is not a known underground city. There are tunnel passages several kilometers in length. We stopped the construction we had planning to do on these areas after the underground city was discovered,” Turan had said.
The city is thought to date back some 5,000 years and is located around the Nevşehir fortress. Escape galleries and hidden churches were also discovered inside the underground city.