Over 40 ancient underground shelters, have been unearthed by archeologists in Turkey, Derinkuyu being the most famous. But the underground city beneath Midyat is proving to be one of the largest. It’s been named Matiate, reportedly meaning “city of caves” and “homeland” in ancient Assyrian.
This subterranean network of limestone caves and passages, discovered in 2020 when a restoration project revealed a concealed doorway, has likely witnessed countless civilizations throughout its estimated 1,900-year history. The BBC News video above reports that up to 70,000 people might have once inhabited these spaces.
Some additional background from this photo feature in the Wall Street Journal:
“Researchers found dozens of silos for storing grain, olive oil, food and wine… The excavation also turned up equipment to make wine, coins and lamps that date back to the early Byzantine era, as well as human and animal bones.
“The underground city is estimated to cover 74 acres and could possibly be larger. Only about 5% of the site has been excavated.”
“The team uncovered a space with a Star of David engraved on its high roof that researchers believe served as a synagogue.
“During the first century, the Roman Empire persecuted Christians and Jews, driving many into hiding. Researchers believe Christians and Jews built this underground city as a refuge over the course of five centuries.”
According to Gani Tarkan, director of the Mardin Museum and head of the excavations, when it was safe for residents to return to life above ground, the cave city continued to be used for catacombs and wine-manufacturing facilities.
Then watch these related cave, limestone, Turkey, and ancient civilization videos next:
• How deep have humans dug into the Earth?
• Genevieve von Petzinger & the invention of graphics on cave walls
• A Real-Life Bone Collector: Recovering an Extinct Human Ancestor
• Spain’s crystal cave, the giant gypsum geode of Pulpí
• The Great Pyramid of Giza was bright white & highly polished
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