Thursday, July 26, 2012

Turkey 19: Kaymakli Underground City

Kaymakli is one of 36 underground cities in the Cappadocia region of Turkey.  It is carved out of soft volcanic rock that is indigenous to the area.  This particular city has 8 underground floors, 4 of which are open to the public.

Some of these underground cities date as far back as 1,800 BCE.  It is believed they were primarily used to protect local inhabitants from marauding invaders looking for plunder.

Entrance passageways were intentionally made very narrow in order to make it difficult for invading armies to gain entry.

This particular underground city had enough food, water and animal storage to keep a population of up to 3,500 safe for over three months.

Vents supplying air to lower floors can be seen here, as well as storage areas and living spaces.

The tunnels are like a labyrinth.  I allowed myself to fall behind our group in order to get some shots of empty rooms.  However, once separated, it took me several dead end tries before I found my way out.

Here is a doorway into another room.  However, as one can see, there is an air shaft to the level below immediately in front.  We saw that a lot.  
Electric lights illuminate the place, now.  It must have taken a lot of candles to illuminate it back in the day.

Which brings up another point.  Some of our group experienced severe claustrophobia during the short time we were down here and had to make a hasty exit.  Imagine being stuck down here for three months while waiting for invaders to give up outside and leave.

 Another narrow stairway.

Some of the living areas were quite large.

I made a concerted effort to get photographs of mostly empty rooms.  I did that in order to tell a better story about how the place was carved.  However, there were literally hundreds of people down here at any given time.

But, even with all the people milling around down here, the air was never stuffy.  I take my hat of to the designers of the ventilation system because it still works well to this day.

Some of the holes with grates over them are not ventilation shafts.  Some, like these, were graves.

Robert Schoch made an excellent point when he noted that, although they have only been able to find evidence of habitation dating back to 1,800 BCE, it is entirely possible that places like this were in use long before that.  With subsequent enlargement and nearly continuous use since then, it is possible that evidence of prior habitation has been destroyed.

Continue on to Post 20: Goreme Open-Air Museum, by clicking here.


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