24 June 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

The excavation, which started in a cave in Turkey’s Mardin, turned into a huge underground city

In an underground city known used as a settlement in the early Christian era, in the Midyat district of Mardin, a large number of artifacts from the 2nd and 3rd centuries were unearthed.

Midyat is approximately 1.5 hours away from Mardin. Midyat, where, rock mansions, gates with arches, Süryani churches with minaret-like ascending gong towers, is reminding a Medieval city.

In the district, a cave was found within the scope of a project started two years ago for cleaning and conservation of the historical streets and houses. After it was determined that the cave is a passage to different places with corridors, excavation works were launched to unearth the underground city.

 Older residents of the area knew about the city but did not know its importance. The underground city covers a large part of the district and is so big archaeologists were not able to uncover all parts of the city.

An interior view from the underground city in Midyat, Mardin, southeastern Turkey. Photo: AA
An interior view from the underground city in Midyat, Mardin, southeastern Turkey. Photo: AA

Historians state in historical sources that Midyat got its name from the word ‘Matiate’ meaning ‘City of Caves’ and that the name ‘Matiate’ was mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions in the 9th century BC.  Probably Midyat’s name is coming from this.

During these excavations, sustained with the cooperation of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums, Mardin Museum, and Midyat Municipality, places of worship, silos, water wells, and passages with corridors have been unearthed in the underground city. Experts also found many artifacts dating back to the 2 and 3 centuries A.D. in various parts of the city.

A view from the underground city in Midyat, Mardin, southeastern Turkey. Photo: AA
A view from the underground city in Midyat, Mardin, southeastern Turkey. Photo: AA

Gani Tarkan, director of Mardin Museum and head of excavations at Matiate, said that their work will spread to the whole district. Stating that similar examples of underground cities have been found in Anatolia but that Midyat’s underground city has very different characteristics, Tarkan continued: “Matiate has been used uninterruptedly for 1,900 years. It was first built as a hiding place or escape area. As it is known, Christianity was not an official religion in the second century. Families and groups who accepted Christianity generally took shelter in underground cities to escape the persecution of Rome or formed an underground city. Possibly, the underground city of Midyat was one of the living spaces built for this purpose. It is an area where we estimate that at least 60-70,000 people lived underground.”

The underground city of Midyat is still largely unexplored, but initial studies suggest its size and features may rival those of Derinkuyu, the largest excavated underground city in Cappadocia, which could house 20.000 people.

Similar examples of underground cities are found in Anatolia, but Midyat has a very different feature from these. As head of excavations at Matiate Gani Tarkan stated:

“There was no a life above the underground cities in Nevşehir and Kayseri. But he stated that all the structures above the Midyat underground city were registered.”

“Underneath is a different history, a different period, and above it is a different date. While the houses on the top are dated to the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, there is a completely different city underneath. That city is 1900 years old,” he added.

It is expected that the number of visitors to the district will significantly increase with the complete unearthing of the underground city.

AA

Related Articles

2,500-Year-Old Tombs Uncovered Of Unknown Persons With Gold Tongues in Egypt

6 December 2021

6 December 2021

The remains of two unknown persons with golden tongues were found inside tombs, dating back to the Saite Dynasty (664...

Ceremonial cave site from Postclassic Maya period discovered in Yucatán Peninsula

21 December 2021

21 December 2021

Archaeologists have discovered a ceremonial cave site in Chemuyil on the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico, that dates from the Postclassic Maya...

An 8500-year-old wooden ladder remain was discovered at Çatalhöyük

12 April 2022

12 April 2022

Remains of the wooden ladder were discovered for the first time in Çatalhöyük, one of the best-preserved Neolithic settlements in...

A rare statue of K’awiil, Mayan god of Lighting have uncovered in Mexico

1 May 2023

1 May 2023

In southeastern Mexico, archaeologists uncovered a rare sculpture of a powerful Mayan god near the path of a large-scale rail...

4,000-year-old Snake-Shaped Pottery Handle Found in Taiwan

20 February 2024

20 February 2024

National Tsing Hua University archaeologists in Taiwan have discovered a snake-shaped pottery handle dating back approximately 4000 years. Researchers uncovered...

The Temple of Persian Water Goddess Anahita Discovered in Iraqi Kurdistan

8 March 2024

8 March 2024

Archaeologists excavating the Rabana-Merquly mountain fortress in what is present-day Iraqi Kurdistan suggest that it may also have served as...

Archaeologists Find Mysterious 2,800-year-old Channels in Jerusalem

30 August 2023

30 August 2023

Archaeologists excavating in Jerusalem have uncovered a network of mysterious channels dating back to the days of King Joash and...

Christians Supplied Medieval Pagans with Horses for Sacrifice for Funeral Rituals

20 May 2024

20 May 2024

In the late medieval period, pagans in the Baltic region of northern Europe imported horses from neighboring Christian nations for...

Columns in Lagina Hecate Sanctuary Rise Again

19 February 2021

19 February 2021

Lagina Hecate Sanctuary is located in Yatağan district of Muğla. It is an important sacred area belonging to the Carians...

Archaeologists may have uncovered a 13th-century castle in Shropshire

7 August 2021

7 August 2021

Archaeologists have been working on a mound of land in Wem, Shropshire, that belongs to Soulton Hall, Elizabethan mansion and...

7,000-Year-Old Canoes Reveal Early Development of Nautical Technology in Mediterranean

21 March 2024

21 March 2024

The discovery of five “technologically sophisticated” canoes in Italy has revealed that  Neolithic people were navigating the Mediterranean more than...

Archaeologists discover bones of a woman who lived 14,000 years ago at a site in The Iberian Peninsula

13 August 2021

13 August 2021

Archaeologists have discovered the bones of a lady who lived 14,000 years ago, the earliest traces of a modern burial...

At a dig site in western Turkey, a centuries-old Byzantine fortress will be revealed

24 December 2021

24 December 2021

Excavation of vast Byzantine-era fortifications considered to be about 900 years old has begun at a dig site in western...

Anthropologists discovered a bone in the Grotte du Renne cave in France that could indicate the presence of a previously unknown lineage of Homo sapiens

9 August 2023

9 August 2023

A bone discovered in the Grotte du Renne cave in France may represent the existence of a previously unknown lineage...

Scientists Ancient Landscape Not Seen For 14 Million Years Discovered Beneath Antarctic Ice

26 October 2023

26 October 2023

Researchers have uncovered an ancient landscape that remained hidden beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) for at least 14...