In 1963, a homeowner in the Nevsehir province near the Turkish city of Cappadocia was doing a renovation project. When he tore down an old wall, he discovered a secret room hidden in his basement. This would be surprising enough, but after poking around the secret room, he made an even more startling discovery. There was a tunnel leading out of this hidden chamber that descended down into a mysterious labyrinth.
An Ancient Underground City
What this homeowner discovered in 1963 was one of the entrances to Derinkuyu, an ancient underground city that was constructed sometime between the 15th and 12th centuries BCE. Carved out of the soft, volcanic rock, Derinyuku was designed to stay hidden from view.
Although there are several entrances into the underground city, they’re all obscured with a variety of ingenious objects. So is the complex network of ventilation shafts that brought oxygen into the subterranean city. Massive stone doors were found that close from the inside. It’s obvious that the city was built to keep people out. But who?
Seeking Protection Underground
Because the rocky ground on which the city of Cappadocia was built is so soft, it is likely that early residents of the area first dug out small storage rooms or cellars beneath their homes, because this was before you could just rent a locker from one of those guys on Storage Wars.
The cool, constant temperatures would have made it ideal for storing food. But the underground rooms also offered protection when the city was set upon by foreign invaders. Archaeologists believe that the elaborate tunnels and chambers of the underground city were built to keep the citizens safe during invasions.
Exactly which foreign invaders they hoped to keep out depends on who built the underground cities, which isn’t entirely clear. Archaeologists have two theories about who the builders could be.