Works unearth graves in underground city
AKSARAY - Anatolia News Agency
Twenty graves have been found inside a church during excavations that have been carried out in the St. Mercurius underground city in Cappadocia region. AA photoDuring continuing works to improve the St. Mercurius underground city for tourist visits, 20 graves have been found inside a church in the Saratlı area of Gülağaç district in the central Anatolian province of Nevşehir’s Cappadocia region. It was also reported that a man and a woman were buried together in one of the graves.
“Gülağaç is home to underground cities, Sofular valley, Demirci houses, Roman Path, Güvercinkaya ruins, Aşıklı Höyük and the crater lake Narlıgöl. Now a new underground city will enrich the region,” Gülağaç District Gov. Harun Yücel said, adding that Gülaçağ was a hidden treasure in Cappadocia.
Aksaray museum director and head of the St. Mercurius underground city excavations, art historian Yusuf Altın said works had continued for a month in the underground city. St. Mercurius was a commander who lived between 225 and 250, Altın said, and was born in the Cappadocia region at the time of the Roman Empire. The saint’s head was cut off after he declared he was a Christian and his body was sent to Egypt, Altın said.
“We have started excavations in the underground city bearing his name and unearthed a church. Works have been continuing with five experts and 25 workers.”
The church was filled with dirt when they found it, he said, and when they cleaned it, they discovered a graveyard in the church grounds containing 20 graves with the skeletons of children and adults.
“Then we requested anthropologists from the ministry and took necessary safety measures. In one of the graves, a man and woman were buried together. Anthropologists will examine them and try to find out the causes of their deaths,” Altın said.
It was also reported the St. Mercurius underground city will open to tourists next year.