Friday, January 9, 2015

Derinkuyu Yeralti Sehri, the Underground City, Cappadocia, Turkey

My guide Mehmet Buyukata ( picked me up at my hotel, the Karlik Evi in the morning and drove me to the underground city of Derinkuyu Yeralti Sehri.
“It’s estimated 10,000 people lived underground at one time.  Only maybe 3 or 4 % of the whole city has been excavated.  There is evidence that people were living here before the 10th century bc.  Mostly it was for protection. Later they’d come down here when there was an alarm.  Strangers coming through the valley. They could out wait anyone. They kept food down here in storage all the time and brought their animals down with them.  There was water from deep inside but there was also water that was stored. You’ll see these places. "
Mehmet told me.
The people were shorter than they are today, certainly shorter than me. I had to bend down to get through the passage ways. I was feeling my knees almost duck walking in places. It was worth it.  Not a place for a claustrophobic though.  The fresh air shafts certainly helped.
The boys are warming their mittens in the warm air rising up from below.  The people below could make fires and the smoke would go out laterally through porous rock.  They arranged this lateral smoke system to confuse their enemies.

These amazing big disks of rock could be rolled out to block a passage and confound an intruder.
Mehmet took a photo of me standing before the church. They knew it was a church from the cross on the wall and from the cross shape of the tunnels. Christians were active in the area before the 4th century.

Paint didn’t stick to the tunnels so they brought a picture, probably of the mother and child,  and hung it in a recessed area.
This room consisted of a passage connecting two doors. Mehmet, who teaches history and comparative religion at the university said that it was thought this room was used for weddings, with the bride and groom reappearing.  "They may have even had to make several turns around and through the doors in a circle like they do in eastern Indian weddings."
The grids covered holes that were once for food storage. They also had implements and floor funnels for channelling water that was caught from the air  shafts. They made wine here as well.
An area with a raised end and long parallel seating was thought to be a school and a place where community could gather.  The ceiling has been recently reinforced against collapse.


No comments: