(ORDO NEWS) — Archaeologists in Turkey have discovered a massive underground city that they believe could be the largest in the world.
So far they have excavated only 3% of its territory, but every day they discover many rooms, tunnels, secret passages and artifacts.
The discovery was made in the Midyat area of the city of Mardin, an area that already has a rich history and culture and is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The underground city, called Matiat (“city of caves”), was discovered by accident during the cleaning and conservation of historic streets and houses in Midyat.
The workers were cleaning the cave when they discovered the passage. Excavations then uncovered many rooms and other tunnels leading out of it, as well as artifacts and wall frescoes.
Matiate, underground city
To date, archaeologists have discovered 49 rooms, including places of worship, wells, storage silos, and numerous corridors and tunnels, and they estimate that this is only 3% of the total size of the underground city.
“This underground city has been in continuous use for 1,900 years,” said Ghani Tarkan, director of the Mardin Museum and head of the excavations at Matiat.
“At first it was built as a hiding place or a place to escape. As you know, in the second century Christianity was not the official religion.
Families and groups that converted to Christianity usually took refuge in underground cities to escape the persecution of Rome, or formed an underground city.
It is possible that the underground city of Midyat was one of the dwellings built for this purpose. We estimate that at least 60-70,000 people lived underground.”
The rich history of Midyat
Midyat is located in the center of a limestone plateau in southeastern Turkey, its rural landscape spanning 80 villages with over 100 churches and 70 monasteries.
The region was inhabited as early as the Assyrian period and was ruled by various empires, including the Mitannians, Assyrians, Arameans, Armenians, Medes, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Abbasids, Seljuks and Ottomans, with each new civilization developing on the basis of the previous one.
Cities, empires, and religions have risen and fallen around this historical distraction, and yet it still seems to hold a few secrets.
Underground cities of Turkey
Discoveries of underground cave complexes and networks are not uncommon in Turkey, but discoveries of this magnitude are for sure. Experts are already predicting that Matiat will be the largest found to date.
This is a very significant claim considering that over 40 sophisticated underground cities have already been found in Turkey.
For example, Derinkuyu is an underground city in Cappadocia (Turkey), which covers more than 8 levels and goes to a depth of 80 meters.
The complex includes ventilation shafts, wells, water tanks, stables, apartments, common rooms, and tombs, and is “protected” by 1,000-pound stone doors that could only be opened from the inside.
Each level can be isolated from the others, although all levels overlap each other. There are over 600 entrances to the city, most of which are hidden.
Ghani Tarkan believes the latest find will top them all: “When all of this is revealed, it will truly be an underground city that will impress the world”.
“There is no underground city located in such a large area.” The underground city of Midyat in Anatolia, Turkey, will be the only one in the world.”
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