Archeologists have discovered an ancient underground city in central Turkey that may possibly date back 5,000 years.
The large underground city, which was found recently around the Nevşehir Fortress, was discovered when crews began demolishing buildings and clearing land for new construction in the area, according to the Hurriyet Daily News.
The underground city is thought to be some 5 million square feet and, so far, researchers have found 44 historical objects. It's believed to extend more than 370 feet below ground level.
"The existence of this underground city, which consists of 11 neighborhoods around the Nevşehir Fortress, makes us very excited," Nevşehir Mayor Hasan Ünver told the Hurriyet Daily News. "We are using the latest technology in its cleaning. When the work is done, we plan to build places like boutique hotels, art galleries, handicraft centers, walking routes, a museum, and meeting rooms in the underground city."
The tunnels into the underground city, which appears to have been carved into pliable volcanic ash rock, are believed to have been used to carry agricultural products.
According to National Geographic, Ünver said that 300-year-old documents
were discovered at the site, which provided some details about the underground city.
"We found documents stating that there were close to 30 major water tunnels in this region," Ünver said. "In 2014, those tunnels led scientists to discover a multilevel settlement of living spaces, kitchens, wineries, chapels, staircases, and bezirhane — linseed presses for producing lamp oil to light the underground city."
"Artifacts including grindstones, stone crosses, and ceramics indicate the city was in use from the Byzantine era through the Ottoman conquest. Like Derinkuyu, the site appears to have been a large, self-sustaining complex with air shafts and water channels," NatGeo noted.
Archaeologists believe that the underground city became a convenient hiding place when enemies came looking for Cappadocians, who lived in the area at the time.
Cappadocians, who had adopted Christianity, used the city to protect themselves from Muslim invaders by retreating to the city and blocking the tunnels until the threat left, according to National Geographic.
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