When the invaders came, they went underground. No, not metaphorically.
March 27, 2015 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Massive Underground City Found in Cappadocia Region of Turkey When the invaders came, Cappadocians knew where to hide: underground, in one of the 250 subterranean safe havens they had carved from pliable volcanic ash rock called tuff. posted by Michele in California (14 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Are we sure this isn't where the vampires lived?
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:10 AM on March 27, 2015 [7 favorites]

Define tuff wars: someone comes, you vanish.
posted by Namlit at 10:10 AM on March 27, 2015

I would love to be on the survey trips. Fascinating find.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:11 AM on March 27, 2015

Thank you so much for posting this Michele, this post made my day.

Turkey, and more specifically, the Cappadocia region, is one of the few places in the world that I think of as magical; the beautiful landscape, churches carved in the rock (and that you can find all over the place, just hiking along and -blam - there is a church carved in rock), and those underground cities.

I saw some of the (obviously already found ones, not the one in the link) underground cities before, and found them fascinating. You can see things that were even for storing animals (ie, feeding and watering troughs) for long periods of time, all underground. I think what fascinated me the most were the things that you couldn't see - even the ones that were open to the public, only permitted you to go down 2 or 3 floors, but apparently many of them run 8 or more. You will also see long tunnels that are closed off - a guide told me that legend has it that there used to be many, many underground cities that connected throughout the land via tunnels. No idea as to whether his statement was myth or reality, but ...it is a neat thing to imagine.

I think this video from the UNESCO website does a good job of briefly showing the landscape, some of the churches, and an underground city.

So it is great to see that there is yet another city discovered and larger than the rest. I will keep my eyes peeled over the next few years as to when this opens, because I have been meaning to go back to Turkey and this area again - and I need to see it. There are also so many questions that I have about the culture and the history of the people who lived in the city ...
posted by Wolfster at 10:12 AM on March 27, 2015 [9 favorites]

It would be amazing to explore this.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:18 AM on March 27, 2015

Assassin's Creed: Revelations had a pretty awesome explorable Derinkuyu-inspired level (I knew this sounded familiar, had to look it up). Apparently this site was possibly a third larger than Derinkuyu, which itself could house up to 20,000 people...
posted by Ryvar at 10:34 AM on March 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've been seven stories down in Cappadoccia and it is fairly cool.

Also, pretty sure they meant tuff is friable, not pliable.
posted by Rumple at 11:15 AM on March 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

What I remember most clearly about visiting Derinkuyu (besides the classroom) was that they would have fake wells that went up to the surface, with real wells that only started underground, because invaders would routinely try to poison their water supply.
posted by dontoine at 11:35 AM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I visited Cappadocia last year and went down into Derinkuyu, and it made my inner 10 year old D&D nerd ecstatic with glee.

One thing about tourism in Turkey in general is that, like many other parts of the developing world, their attitude towards safety and visitor control is lackadaisical at best. My friends and I would visit these ancient castle ruins on the Lycian coast that had a 30 foot cliff drop off that hadn't been guarded by anything more than a railing or a caution sign

It's even more prevalent in Derinkuyu where the only thing that marks a particular tunnel complex as "for visitors" vs. "off limits", is that the visitor sections have electric lights and hand railings, where as the off limit sections are dark and strewn with trash. I visited the complex on my own, a little ahead of the tour groups* and I remember being in this one old underground church four stories down, with a bunch of Koreans, and I pointed at a dark tunnel and asked the Koreans' tour guide if it was ok for me to look, and he looked at me, saw that I had a headlamp and water and just sort of shrugged, like "I ain't responsible for you, and you seem like you aren't an idiot, so go ahead." And I wound up tunnel-ratting my way through even more rooms and chambers that would've felt ancient if not for the detritus of chip packets and water bottles that were still scattered in various places.

(* -- PRO-TIP - if you visit any of the Cappadocian underground cities, get there as early as possible. Once the busloads of tour groups arrive, it's a claustrophic nightmare, especially since every tunnel turns into a bottleneck because it's impossible for two groups to pass each other abreast.)
posted by bl1nk at 11:38 AM on March 27, 2015 [5 favorites]

Nice to see that the local powers that be are interested in preserving the site, too. Sure, mostly because they see it (rightfully) as a potential tourist draw, but there's plenty of politicians who are happy to run over these things so as to get tax revenue (or kickbacks) from yet another housing development.
posted by tavella at 11:41 AM on March 27, 2015

I'm just waiting for them to stumble on a city that still has people in it: "Are they gone yet?"
posted by happyroach at 1:34 PM on March 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

Genjiandproust: are we sure this isn't where the vampires lived?

The Vampire: The Masquerade RPG had an entire clan knowns as the Cappadocians. They were necromantic corpse- vampires who were in time supplanted by the Giovanni (the clan Incestuous Mafiosi Necro-Mobsters). Needless to say, the archeologists need to be careful not to spill any blood in there, or they may be faced with hundreds of suddenly reanimated blood crazed revenants.

/so nerdy /so 90s
posted by LeRoienJaune at 5:27 PM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

It gets better, LRJ- at one point Cappadocious, Antediluvian progenitor of the Cappadocian clan, lured the non-religious portion of the clan into an underground city and put up a magical barrier over the entrance preventing vampires from leaving, trapping them there to starve in the dark.

Careful as you go, archeologists!
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:41 PM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

PS: "Derin-kuyu" = literally "Deep-well" or "Deep-shaft."

Carry on.
posted by seyirci at 8:39 PM on March 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

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