2 December 2023 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

Iraq’s historic Arch of Ctesiphon undergoes restoration work

28 November 2021

28 November 2021

Iraq’s Arch of Ctesiphon, the world’s largest brick-built arch, is having restoration work to return it to its former splendour,...

350,000-Year-Old Human Settlement have been Discovered on the Arabian Peninsula

17 May 2021

17 May 2021

One of the world’s oldest Acheulean sites was found in the northern region of Hail in Saudi Arabia. Al Nasim...

Archaeologists may have found the Sanctuary of Samian Poseidon described in ancient texts

11 October 2022

11 October 2022

During excavations in the foothills at the ancient acropolis of Samicum in Greece, archaeologists may have found the sanctuary of...

10,000-year-old Settlement Discovered in Turkey’s Şanlıurfa

25 June 2021

25 June 2021

A Neolithic settlement was discovered in the garden of a house in the Sayburç Neighborhood of Şanlıurfa’s Karaköprü district. News...

Evidence of the oldest hunter-gatherer basketry in southern Europe discovered in Spanish Cave

29 September 2023

29 September 2023

A team of scientists has discovered and analyzed the first direct evidence of basketry among hunter-gatherer societies and early farmers...

One of the greatest gold treasures in Danish history found in Vindelev

6 September 2021

6 September 2021

Near the town of Jelling in Denmark, one of the biggest treasures ever found dating from the sixth century has...

Construction Workers Discovered Ancient Sarcophagus in Turkey

2 March 2021

2 March 2021

On Monday, reports said that during excavations in the Seyitgazi region of Eskisehir Province in northwestern Turkey, municipal staff unexpectedly...

5000-year-old jewelry factory found in Rakhi Garhi in India’s Indus Valley region

9 May 2022

9 May 2022

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has made an important discovery by finding the remains of a 5000-year-old jewelry factory...

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a stone circle in the Castilly Henge, located in Cornwall, England

20 May 2022

20 May 2022

Archaeologists have unearthed a mysterious stone circle at the center of a prehistoric ritual site near Bodmin in Cornwall, located...

Norwegian Boy in Search of Granddad’s Wedding Ring Finds 1500-year-old Roman Jewellery

11 August 2021

11 August 2021

Sander Magnus Vang (12) needed to find his grandfather’s lost wedding ring. Instead, he found a 1500-year-old ring. The golden...

1,300-year-old shipwreck found in southwest France

19 June 2022

19 June 2022

Archeologists in France have discovered the wreck of a ship that navigated the Garonne river in southwestern France in the...

An olive workshop dating back to the 6th century was found in the ancient city of Dara

16 February 2022

16 February 2022

An olive workshop dating back to the 6th century was unearthed in the ancient city of Dara, one of the...

Venice of the Pacific: The mysterious Micronesian ruins of Nan Madol

12 July 2022

12 July 2022

Sometimes art and architecture challenge our perceptions of what was formerly thought to be feasible and what our forefathers were...

Denmark King’s spice cabinet discovered on Gribshunden

13 February 2023

13 February 2023

The Gribshunden, a 15th-century Danish royal warship, was uncovered to have been loaded with botanical materials, including the first archaeological...

Paleontologists have discovered a new species of giant rhino

18 June 2021

18 June 2021

Paleontologists studying in China have found a new species of gigantic rhinoceros, the world’s biggest land animal. According to a...