Underground Cities and People

Underground cities were first in attracting the attention and tiring the minds of the visitors coming to Cappadocia which possesses the historical and natural beauties made up by nature, history and human beings, that cannot be seen in any part of the world.

I mentioned in the previous pages that there are 36 underground cities in this region. I wonder if the people of another world, or the underground people that do not know the world’s surface, made Cappadocia in a form of an ant’s nest by digging these underground cities, which I believe will increase with further investigations, to their forms of today.

Digging all these underground cities and drawing out the excavation of these places, and transmitting this excavation to another place is not really an easy job. It must be very difficult to achieve these with the techni­que of those days.

Illumination was only done by oil lamps. And undoubtfully this illuminating system was inadequate in such places. The most suitable procedure of digging that can be thought of these underground cities is first of all digging air chimneys 70-80 metres deep, making the underground cities by digging towards the sides after reaching water and drawing up the excavation by pulleys through the air chimneys opened before.

This is a logical thought because if they had not opened air chimneys they would not have been able to work and make these excavations.
When searching the construction of the underground cities the following question comes up in our minds.

The spectacular subterranean city of Kaymakl? is a must for the visitor to Cappadocia. This is located a short distance to the south of Nev?ehir and was cut out of the volcanic tuff during the period from the 6th to the 10th centuries A.D. Dwellings such as this are known to have existed in this region as early as the 5th century B.C. The ancient writer Xenophon referred to them In his Anabasis.

The underground city at Kaymakl? was made to accommodate several thousand people. Today the visitor is able to descend through seven floor levels of the city by means of a labyrinth of tunnels. Rooms, kitchens, wine cellars, storage areas and churches are all connected together by the intricate system of passageways.

An immense chimney ventilates the whole affair, and today electric lighting and modern supporting braces allow the visitor to explore the city at leisure. The underground city was dug out to serve as a refuge for the Christians from the Arab invasions that occurred during the period from the 7th to the 9th centuries and also from the persecution during the Age of Iconoclasm. When attack looked imminent the whole subterranean complex would be sealed off by rolling huge circular stones in front of the entrance tunnels.

Another underground city, not far from Kaymakl?, is found at Derinkuyu. This one goes down to eight different living levels, with tunnels extending for several kilometers.

This city could accommodate more dwellers than that at Kaymakl?, possibly as many as fifty thousand. It is better laid out than the former one and was made at a later date. The temperature tends to be cool, even in the summer, so visitors are well advised to take sweaters along and to stay together while visiting the underground city. Throughout the year the temperature varies little. Heating was not much of a consideration, and cooking was done in communal kitchens to centralize the smoke from the fires.

Where and how did these rubbles dissappear? The answer could be as follows:

You will notice Cappadocia is at a steep and broken location having a lot of valleys. The underground cities around Derinkuyu are generally small. But the biggest underground city in the region of Cappadocia is Derinkuyu.

The rubbles of the underground cities of the surroundings were poured into suitable streams and dissappeared within time as a result of erosion.

The environment of Derinkuyu consists of a level ground but in the town centre these is a stream coming from Kaymakl? Derinkuyu direction. This stream is about 50-60 metres wide, and 8 kms long and is in a completely full state. And I think that a part of the excavation poured of the underground city was poured to the bottom of the Sö?üt stream peak at the west side of Derinkuyu, and the other part was poured into the stream coming from the Kaymakl? direction.

If it would have been piled up at another place, these diggings would have made a great hill, but there is no hill resembling a pile of diggings in this region. On the.other hand, if we suppose that the excavation was spread throughout to the land, the soil of this region would have been sterile, non-productive, and sandy, but there is no region having such soil.

This region possesses a complete productive agricultural land. Undoubtedely mankind is able to do anything. But what forced the people of that time to leave the world’s surface and construct the Underground Cities which are so difficult to make? In general if we consider the Underground Cities, we can see that these cities were constructed over a levelled ground or a hill’s side. Tribes felt the necessity of continuous shelters to protect them­selves from all kinds of danger.

The reason these tribes preferred the region of Cappadocia was because it was easy to dig this region since it consisted of tuff and soft rock. As a matter of fact they could not make these cities with the technique of that period, if the rocks were not soft. Basically, these rocks are very soft.

They harden at the contact of air. If we examine carefully, we can see that there is a difference between the first layers and the last layers and that there are differences in some of the air chimneys. One can see that the upper layers and some of the air chimneys got rougher and that they were made at random and that there are no traces of drills. It is also visible that lower layers and other air chimneys are softer and even certain parts can be dug, easily they did not get much harder, the traces of drills are still very cleat and the chimneys are very smooth and that some of these are round and others square.

In 1910, an Englishman R. CAMPBELL THOMSON, found things such as rocks, and hand axes belonging to the Paleolitic Age in the So?anl? stream 26kms. far from Derinkuyu. Since the underground cities are in this region, the first layers above of these cities belong to the Paleolitic Age?

This has not been proven so far. But a church in the form of a cross was found in the 7th layer of this underground city at Derinkuyu District, and the first layers were dug later, and a missionary scholl and a place of Baptism was made. Thus, this is the absolute proof that Romans and Byzantiums resided here After Christ. The ventilation system of the underground cities was very proper.

There is a very good air circulation going way down to the lower layers. Especially the Derinkuyu Underground city being cleaned up to the last layers, plays a great role in the air circulation. When we go near the air chimney on the 7 th layer we can see that the chimney draws cigarette smoke down.

And when we go towards the exit door on the same layer we can see that the cigarette smoke goes up continuously. The temperature in these parts is 7-8 degrees both in summer and winter. Only the places far away from air chimneys reach 13-15 degrees. One of the interesting parts is that the holes opened from the first layer of the city, have a diameter of 10 cms and a length of 3-4 metres. It is possible that these holes were made with a wooden drill having metal points. It is evident that they were used forthe communication system.

We can see two holes near each other at some places and single holes in other places.

What kind of people were they who made the above mentioned underground cities? Detailed information about the life style and the administration system of these underground people has not been obtained yet. We just know that many families use the same kitchen, because we find very few kitchens in these underground cities that had lots of inhabitants. But the population of these days was more dense than today.

We have come to that conclusion because the slopes of the surrounding mountains and hills were completely divided and had small gardens used for agricultural purposes. The people of this region live the same way today. The slopes of said hills and mountains are used as pastures today.

Of course there is nothing that mankind cannot do. This different world existed because of oppression and disappeared and excite people’s curiosity of people nowadays and makes them wonder.

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