Derinkuyu: A 3,000-year-old mysterious underground city

What do a temple of the dead in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and a subterranean metropolis in Turkey have in common with a South American cave said to house a treasure from beyond the stars?

Derinkuyu underground city
The Derinkuyu underground city is an ancient multi-level cave city in Cappadocia, Turkey. Stone used as a door in the old underground city. © Image Credit: Nina Hilitukha | Licensed from Dreamstime.Com (Editorial/Commercial Use Stock Photo)

So, apparently nothing, is it? All of these sites have been buried away for ages, and now as archaeology is advancing faster than ever, these strange places are resurfacing. Turkey has been the focus of attention as a result of several discoveries made in recent years, but one of those findings may be more significant than we previously believed.

The underground city Derinkuyu

Derinkuyu the underground city in Cappadocia
Derinkuyu ancient multi-level underground cave city in Cappadocia © Image Credit: Dmytro Gilitukha | Licensed from Dreamstime.Com (Editorial/Commercial Use Stock Photo)

One of the most momentous finds in thousands of years has been made in Cappadocia, central Turkey. In 1963, what was meant to be a simple house improvement in the town of Derinkuyu turned out to be one of Turkey’s most remarkable discoveries.

When a cave wall was breached, it revealed a corridor to an underground city thousands of years old and over 280 feet (76 meters) deep. What was the aim of this amazing underground city? And how did the Derinkuyu architects achieve such astounding engineering feats?

Over 15,000 ventilation shafts distribute air from the surface throughout the city. This ancient underground city was a perplexing building effort that we now, with our technology, would have a difficult time replicating.

Derinkuyu is an astounding feat, and it is truly mind-boggling how ancient man was able to construct a subterranean metropolis, this sophisticated thousands of years ago.

The geological characteristics of the stone from Derinkuyu are quite essential; it is very soft. As a result, the ancient builders of Derinkuyu had to be very cautious when building these underground chambers, providing sufficient pillar strength to support the floors above; if this was not achieved, the city would have collapsed, but archaeologists have found no evidence of any “cave-ins” at Derinkuyu so far.

But what was the purpose of this magnificent ancient underground metropolis, which could house 20,000 to 30,000 people?

Why did ancient humans built this underground city?

Derinkuyu the underground city in Cappadocia
The Derinkuyu underground city is an ancient multi-level cave city in Cappadocia, Turkey. Stone used as a door in the old underground city © Image Credit: Nina Hilitukha | Licensed from Dreamstime.Com (Editorial/Commercial Use Stock Photo)

Historians think that the city’s function was to defend its residents from attack around 800 B.C., but many historians disagree, claiming that it would have been an extraordinary engineering feat, far too advanced, merely to be used to shield people from invasion.

Yet the old Derinkuyu’s “security system” was just amazing; one thousand pound rolling doors that could only be opened from the inside and could only be handled by one person. Each floor or level at Derinkuyu could have been locked individually with different combinations.

There are several mysteries surrounding Derinkuyu, and the majority of these mysteries remain unsolved. Who created this massive underground city? What might have compelled more than 20,000 individuals to live underground?

Some historians and archaeologists believe that this underground city was created by the Phrygians, while others say that it was most likely built by the Hittites. Still others claim that Derinkuyu is considerably older than historians and archaeologists believe.

According to some experts who have examined the Derinkuyu underground city, the reason why thousands of people rushed underground might be connected to climate change. According to mainstream climatologists’ predictions, the last ice age peaked around 18,000 years ago and ended around 10,000 years ago.

This theory could prove to be accurate according to many who have had time to study the history of Derinkuyu and they point toward one of the oldest religious traditions on the face of the Earth, which is the Zoroastrian religion and according to sacred texts, the great prophet Yima was instructed to build an underground refuge similar to Derinkuyu by the sky God Ahura Mazda, to protect the people from a global ice age.

Was it to protect people from war, climate change? Or something else entirely?

Ancient Alien theorists believe Derinkuyu was built for protection, but from an aerial enemy, stating that it would be the only logical reason to hide underground; to remain unseen, stating that the complex security mechanism of Derinkuyu was put in place to prevent the underground city from being found, and it was hidden underground, where no one might suspect that over 20,000 people are hidden.

The question raised by the discovery of Derinkuyu are something that historians and researchers will debate over in the future, we can only hope that one day, evidence will be found that will give us further insight into this ancient underground city.