April 12, 2024
Massive Underground City in Turkey Rediscovered During Home Renovations?
Claim:

A social post shared in early 2024 accurately reported that a man renovating his home in Turkey discovered a massive, ancient, underground city.

Rating:

Massive Underground City in Turkey Rediscovered During Home Renovations?

In early 2024, an image shared on social media claimed that a man performing home renovations in Turkey discovered an ancient underground city. 

The claim had previously been shared on Reddit.

(iFunny)

This claim is true. According to BBC, in 1963, an unidentified local man kept losing his chickens, which he noticed were disappearing into a gap in one of the walls of his home, never to be seen again. After knocking down a wall in his basement, he found a tunnel leading to a sprawling system of cave-like rooms and homes that made up the subterranean city.

Due to ongoing excavation efforts, the details surrounding the scope of Derinkuyu’s discovery have not yet been fully revealed — but the city’s existence and significance are undisputed.

Located in Cappadocia near the center of Turkey, Derinkuyu is an ancient marvel with a rich history and significant archaeological importance. The sprawling underground city is believed to have been constructed as early as the 8th to 7th centuries B.C. and was once known as Elengubu. It served as a refuge for people during times of Byzantine-Arab conflict and persecution, and later during the 7th century A.D. as a shelter for Christians fleeing persecution from Islamic raids. Reports suggest it could accommodate up to 20,000 people.

Sources like Atlas Obscura and the BBC provided further context, underscoring Derinkuyu’s importance as a cultural and historical treasure. According to the BBC:

The ancient city of Elengubu, known today as Derinkuyu, burrows more than 85m below the Earth’s surface, encompassing 18 levels of tunnels. The largest excavated underground city in the world, it was in near-constant use for thousands of years, changing hands from the Phrygians to the Persians to the Christians of the Byzantine Era. It was finally abandoned in the 1920s by the Cappadocian Greeks when they faced defeat during the Greco-Turkish war and fled abruptly en masse to Greece. Not only do its cave-like rooms stretch on for hundreds of miles, but it’s thought the more than 200 small, separate underground cities that have also been discovered in the region may be connected to these tunnels, creating a massive subterranean network.

The site has not been completely excavated and its full extent and significance are not yet known; we were unable to find definitive records of its exact size. A report from Architectural Digest in September 2023 said archaeologists were studying a 215,000-square-foot subterranean complex called Sarayini about 150 miles west of Derinkuyu and that another complex in the Nevşehir region may be larger still:

Many of the ancient underground cities unearthed in Turkey have only been discovered in recent years, and most have not been fully explored. Preliminary studies have indicated that a subterranean complex found in Turkey’s Neveshir region may be larger than both Derinkuyu and Sarayini, though archaeologists don’t yet have a complete picture of the site.

Derinkuyu’s rich history, architectural complexity, and excavation efforts emphasize its significance in understanding ancient civilizations. After its rediscovery in 1963, Derinkuyu was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.

This isn’t the first time Snopes has covered an ancient underground network having been unearthed in Europe, with Medieval Erdstall tunnels dating back centuries found in places such as Germany, Austria, France, Ireland and Scotland.

Sources

Antik Sarayini Yer Altı Şehrinin Keşfedilen Alanı 20 Bin Metrekareye Ulaştı. https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/kultur/antik-sarayini-yer-alti-sehrinin-kesfedilen-alani-20-bin-metrekareye-ulasti/2972469. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Borges, Jason. “Nevşehir Underground City.” Cappadocia History, 17 Sept. 2020, https://www.cappadociahistory.com/post/nevşehir-underground-city.

“Derinkuyu & The Underground Cities of Cappadocia.” Sometimes Interesting, 10 May 2014, https://sometimes-interesting.com/derinkuyu-the-underground-cities-of-cappadocia/.

“Inside One of the World’s Largest and Most Advanced Underground Cities.” Architectural Digest, 27 Sept. 2023, https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/inside-turkey-underground-cities.

Jacobs, Frank. “The Mysterious Underground City Found in a Man’s Basement.” Atlas Obscura, 7 Apr. 2023, http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/derinkuyu-turkey-underground-city-strange-maps.

MyBestPlace – Derinkuyu, the Extraordinary Underground City of Turkey. https://www.mybestplace.com/en/article/derinkuyu-the-extraordinary-underground-city-of-turkey. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

UNESCO World Heritage Centre. “GöReme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia.” UNESCO World Heritage Centre, https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/357/. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Turkey’s Underground City of 20,000 People. https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20220810-derinkuyu-turkeys-underground-city-of-20000-people. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.