Archaeologists Find the Largest Underground City

Underneath the bustling city of Midyat, Turkey, the City of Caves was discovered.


Underneath the bustling city of Midyat, Turkey, the “City of Caves” was discovered.

From dinosaur bones to buried artifacts, from mummified humans to ancient ruins, archaeologists have found it all. Recently, they have unearthed something quite groundbreaking. Their discovery is a large underground city. So large that it broke the world record and now holds the title of largest underground city to ever be found.

Researchers and historians have almost always known that Turkey’s region was bursting with history and incredible wonders. However, finding this underground gem came as a complete surprise to everyone. Conservationists in Midyat, a city in Turkey, were cleaning the local streets and buildings as part of their regular routine maintenance when they happened upon a cave entrance leading to a small passageway. They found a vast underground complex, stunning the archaeologists, excavators, and conservationists. The underground city has been dubbed Matiate, directly translating to either “City of Caves” or “homeland,” depending on the language it is translated from.

In total, archeologists have found 49 rooms and several more locations, though they say those rooms may only account for less than 5% of the total area. Overall, archaeologists estimate the city to be at least 74 acres big. The city is so large that it is thought to have once provided a home for over 70,000 people. Additionally, the team, led by Gani Tarkan, has found artifacts, water, oil, food, grain, wine silos, temples, and more evidence of an ancient, functioning civilization that led them to believe that the city of Matiate has lain completely still for over 1,900 years. Tarkan stated in 2020 that “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 1,900 years old.”

However, the ancient people didn’t go around building fully underground cities for no reason. During the time of its construction, the land was ruled by the Assyrian Empire, and since then has been ruled by the Arameans, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans. Because of this cultural irregularity, there was bound to be some cultural segregation, especially towards Christians. For people seeking shelter from this, it was a common occurrence throughout history for underground cities to be built. Based on the finding and research of the excavations, that is what Tarkan’s team believes Matiate is a shelter for those seeking religious refuge and a place to live.

For the future of Matiate, the team still has to excavate further and study the ruins of the large city. Eventually, though, they hope to provide everyone with a chance to learn more about history by making it a destination for tourists and locals alike.