A great many religions and legends that date back to extremely ancient times talk about “another world” that exists under the ground. This alleged world consists of darkness, at times a river or a creek, in some cases a little bit of light, fires, great heat, strong smells of burning substances, as sulphur and charcoal, powerful other noxious odors, as decay, mildew, stink, methane, to name some of the vast majority of things, far below, described. Religions have put forth the notion of souls of the dead who go to such a place.
But does a location really exist? Does such an eerie territory; domain actually have people who live down there in such very bad physical conditions? Huge numbers of people dismiss the very idea of this type of underground area as a fantasy.The answer of this kind of existence is a “yes”, and this article will help explain how such notions in religions and legends began to emerge. In religions about the belief in the afterlife, most people would bury their dead, along with personal items of the deceased as the clothing, jewelry, and weapons( as knives,axes, and spears). The souls of the deceased were believed by people, at first, to live with their corpse underneath the top surface since that is where the dead body is buried. And a corpse is traditionally buried at least 6 feet down to prevent animals from smelling the body and then digging up the remains to eat. Later on, coffins were invented, then used for extra protection from all sorts of harmful things in burial.
As the many centuries went by, the souls of the deceased were believed to be on the surface of the earth; the top part of the earth. Highly important people, especially pious religious laity, were assumed to ascend all up in the sky to go past the clouds, and live among the stars seen in the night sky. Originally, the ancients taught that the gods and goddess lived in the sky and the stars and later the planets afterwards discovered to be different from the stars; the ancients figured these astral sights were even the gods and goddesses themselves.Eons later, there was a belief among certain ancient people of a single Creator deity that dwelt in the highest part or apex of the visible sky. The parts of the sky were once divided into the skies and were formerly called “the heavens” or “the heavens of the night”.
For eons, all races of people have certain experiences with areas under the ground; below the earth. People have dug out large holes and created tunnels. Such areas were in great darkness until partially illuminated by sunlight that managed to shine through a little bit or somewhat. Individuals have discovered underground caves; caverns, and at times underground springs; creeks.Other times, there would be huge, wide bodies of water discovered.In places,deeply underneath the topsoil,there would be very hot boiling water, scents of burning gases, and even lava from runoff from active volcanoes there around with a smoke mixed with the fire. These types of natural phenomena began to get incorporated with the religions of people when people believed “another world” existed after death, and this world was deep underground. There were times that people even lived under the surface of the earth. Men dug out areas from rocky layers and soil, sand, and terrain to produce a place of sanctuary in times of war and in cases of very powerful, destructive stormy weather.
The insides of these domains were made to be sturdy to prevent collapse, be against entombment, and function practically in terms of airflow, light, and a certain amount of sanitation. Generally, these sites had an entrance and an exit, both that were well protected by a large stone or stones that could be moved away without too much difficulty, but allowing at least enough needed light and air circulation.
In territory where there would be earthquakes, strong rain storms, floods, tremendous rock slides upon hills and mountains,and volcanic lava activity would prove fatal, sooner or later, to individuals living below the earth’s surface.The best examples of ancient underground cities, which have homes and settlements, that were carved from soft volcanic rock, would be Kaymakli which is connected to Derinkuyu by interior tunnels;both cities are located in the nation of Turkey in the Central Anatolia Region. Kaymakli is contained within a citadel. Kaymakli was constructed by the Phrgyians, an Indo-European speaking people during the 8th century BCE and the 7th century BCE. Underground cities existed to offer protection from foreign invaders, conquerors, and enslavers. Kaymakli housed over 3,500 people beneath the ground. The city has nearly 100 tunnels that go down for eight levels, though only 4 levels are open to the public. Yet, the greatest number of deep down interior people of Derinkuyu, going 18 stories deep into Cappadocia earth, housed 20,000 people. This city also encompasses 18 levels of tunnels.
During the times of the Christian conquest of Turkey under the Byzantine era and the establishment of the capital city of Constantinople, (centuries later known as Instanbul), Turkish people hid and sought refuge in Kaymakli and Derinkuyu. The Byzantine time period was between approximately 395 CE-when the Roman Empire was split-to the year 1453. On May 23, 1453, after various Muslim armies attacks over the prior centuries, the city of Constantinople fell to the invading and conquering army of the Muslim Sultan Mehmed (Arabic variation of the Islamic name “Mohammed”) 2 of the Ottoman Empire(1299-to January 9, 1792 to July 24, 1923). Turkish people began to hide and take refugee from the Muslims during the Islamic conquest of Turkey by going under earth to Kaymakli and Derinkuyu to live.
In due time, there began to be large Christian communities within Kaymakli and Derinkuyu that were living clandestinely from the Muslim conquerors and their armies. Kaymakli has ancient living spaces, communal kitchens, workshops, mills, Christian Churches, and stables. Derinkuyu has an ancient Christian church on the lowest floor which is in the shape of a Christian cross measuring 110 meters in width, 25 meters in length, and 3.5 meters in height. Various scholars call the church clover shaped and thus the coat-of-arms-of the Hittites.There is a vertical staircase leading from the church up, between the third and fourth levels, to a spacious barrel vaulted shaped ceiling on the second floor. This room is believed by scholars to be an ancient Christian religious school.
In 1923, after the population exchange between Greece and Turkey, Kaymakli and Derinkyu became mostly abandoned, but there are still some people living in both places currently. Derinkuyu became largely forgotten and then “rediscovered” in 1963 by a local inhabitant who was renovating his house. Today, these two very famous cities are very popular tourist archeological sites.
There are over 200 underground cities in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. The underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu are the most appealing and visited ones.