KAYMAKLI CAPPADOCIA KAYMAKLI DATE KAYMAKLI TURKEY
The second large subterranean complex is in the village of Kaymakli, 18 kilometers south of Nevşehir, on the road to Derinkuyu and Nigde. The complex consists of seven floors, each containing 15 “houses” to accomodate circa two hundred people each. It has several churches and chapels, an extensive maze of galleries with round blocking stones rolled into slot-like receptacles along groves, hewn from the floor. Weighing several tons, these “safety locks” were so delicately balanced that even a few women could roll them in front of the entrances.
Like at Derinkuyu, the principal ventilation shafts are very deep and feature footholds. In the caves are wine presses and storage tanks suggesting intensive viniculture. The selling of wine and cider must have been a major source of income.
But why are there fundamental differences between these subterranean complexes and the troglodyte colonies in the Valley of Göreme? Neither at Derinkuyu, nor at Kaymakli do we see decorations, only utilitarian simplicity, which in fact could raise some doubt about any prolonged Christian occupation. The existence of a few chapels is no sufficient proof, because what we consider chapels could have been something else, depositories for instance. Compared with the colorful frescos of Göreme, the visitor cannot help wondering about the sad barrenness of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli.
Then who were the original builders?
Archeology has no answer. The construction of the subterranean complexes belongs to a dark corner of Anatolian history of which no tangible evidence has been discovered. In order to resolve riddles, archeology depends on four major sources of information: written records, recovered artifacts, skeletal remains and ruins. None of these prerequisites are present in the subterranean complexes. Their original builders might have sprung from Aladdin’s lamp, excavated the enigmatic sites, then dissolved in thin air, without leaving behind either records, or artifacts—not even graves. Local archeological finds belong to later periods.
In the archeological sense the absence of ruins is self-explaining. Here we are speaking of “negative constructions”, something excavated, rather than built. Moreover, the subterranean complexes have always been readily accessible for treasure seekers of the distant past, especially during their centuries of vacancy. We know that the majority of Egyptian burial sites had already been plundered during the reigns of the latter pharaohs.
What were these intricate complexes in reality?
In the nineteen-sixties, shortly after the discovery of the Derinkuyu and Kaymakli sites, the anonymous author of a UNESCO report theorized: «Perhaps the underground establishments had simply served for convenience in the woodless, arid land, providing the people with shelters against the searing summer heat, but also against the harsh Anatolian winter.”
This supposition is both dilettante and naive. People looking for shelter against heat and cold need not burrow ten stories underground. One, or two levels should have sufficed.
The idea that the complexes were only shelters against foreign raiders is not a sound one either. During the period in question, the principal cause of war were greed and envy. The plundering of the lands of others, and especially of people known to possess valuables, belonged to the regular course of life. Incursions into foreign lands were carried out either in the “Blitzkrieg” fashion — a swift raid with limited, lightly equipped and very mobile forces — or else, through massive deployment of troops, equipped with siege machines, transports and other prerequisites of a prolonged invasion.
The aim of the “Blitzkrieg” raiders was the quick gathering of transportable booty. The massive invasion was motivated by political and strategical considerations, its principal aim being to capture and hold territory, preferably with natural richess, or to secure a regular income by reducing conquered rulers to tribute-paying vassals.
In this period of history, men, women and children were legitimate booty of war. Notorious for their utter lack of human sentiments, the Assyrians were first in history to practice mass deportation of conquered people, in preference to prolonged and often futile efforts to pacify them. Consequently, in times of hostile incursions, the inhabitants of the threatened regions tended to disperse, rather than concentrate, as it would be the case with the subterranean complexes had they been only shelters. The apparent lack of extensive sanitary installations speaks against prolonged occupation by thousands of people. And there is more. The region was famous for its wealth in domestic livestock. In the almost total absence of agriculture, horses, sheep and cattle constituted the wealth of the people, the loss of which would have resulted in total economic collapse. But none of the subterraneam complexes feature areas designated for masses of domestic animals, which the refugees would certainly wish to preserve together with themselves.
Having spent some years in the region studying the patterns of subterranean establishments, I became convinced that the complexes at Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, together with similar conglomerations farther north at Çardak and Özkonak, were principally military installations; perhaps the key positions of an extensive fortified line of defense, constructed probably by the Phyrygians against expanding Assyria.
If the core of the complexes had been excavated around the 7th and 8th centuries before Christ, this data would neatly correspond with the period of which archeology has no written records. It was the epoch of a massive Assyrian drive toward the north and the west.
The system of subterranean complexes lies exactly in the no man’s land between the Phrygian and Assyrian realms, and a hypothetical line drawn to connect them would cut all the routes an eastern invader may take.
The Phrygians should have had every reason to consider themselves threatened. Under King Shamuramet, the Assyrians penetrated into Cappadocia as far as Tyana (at Niğde). In open warfare, the Phrygians were no match for the Assyrian army. Striking from the subterranean complexes, they would be able to resist for years.
This Phrygian “Maginot Line” idea is my own hypothesis, but one fact is certain: Derinkuyu and Kaymakli have not been excavated in any historical period with written records, and they did not exist during the Hittite Empire. None of the vast quantity of clay tablets already translated carry any reference to these formidable underground installations in the heartland of the Hittite Empire, in the immediate vicinity of Tuwanuwa (Kemerhisar, near Nigde), one of the most important Hittite cities.
Surface ruins of mountain fortificiations near Derinkuyu, Doğala, Erdas Dağ and Örentepe with numerous burial tumuli also establish Phrygian presence in the Kirsehir-Kayseri-Nigde triangle.
Some locally printed “guides” based on the sole principle that “anything’s good enough for tourists as long as they buy it”, bravely announce the Hittite origin of the subterranean complexes, on account of certain Hittite relics allegedly found in one of the lower galleries of Derinkuyu. Such and similar “evidence” is not at all convincing, as the relics could well have been left there by a later inhabitant, who in turn had found the object elsewhere. After all, the Phrygians did participate in the sacking of Hattusas and other Hittite cities and surely carried off a large quantity of booty. If, for instance, a Phrygian warrior, for some reason, returned into Thrace hauling his loot of Hittite artifacts, some of which would be discovered centuries later under the ruins of his house, those artifacts could not be considered “proof of Hittite presence in Thrace!
Moreover, the Hittites used to bury their dead in large “pithoi” — burial urns of terracotta, but so far not a single such urn has been discovered in the neighborhood of any subterranean complex.
Were the Phrygians the original tunnellers? I cannot offer any conclusive evidence, only a circumstantial one. The Phrygians came from Thrace where the presence of many ancient mines tend to suggest that they were past masters of deep tunnelling techniques. Moreover, the author has come across a perfectly identical, Göreme-type underground system and rock-cut dwellings in Thrace, only forty kilometers from Istanbul at the village of Incegiz, near the township of Çatalca.
This important site is not mentioned in any literature, although its similarity to the Cappadocian complexes is striking.
The Christians of Cappadocia had no connection with the complex in Thrace and needless to say that the Hittites have never been there.
It was on Phrygian territory!
Here one should remember that the term “Phrygian” is not restricted to one particular race, because the Thracian invaders of Anatolia consisted of many races. The people of “Muski,” mentioned in the Assyrian annals, were probably the Moesians — a member tribe of the “People of the Sea” whose armies forayed as far as the frontiers of Egypt and Assyria, half-a-century before the reign of King Tiglath Pilaser I (1112-1078 B.C.), the ruthless conqueror.
Centered on Gordion (Yassihüyük), the Phrygian Kingdom was terminated by the Cimmerians in 625 B.C.
What was the Anatolian situation during the “missing” five hundred years, the period which archeologists consider a dark corner of Anatolian history? Professor Ekrem Akurgal, one of Turkey’s most prominent archeologists writes:
“The consequences of this merciless aggression were catastrophic. The invaders destroyed the civilizations of Asia Minor with such cruelty and violence that a dark age ensued, which lasted for two hundred years in Western Anatolia, and at least for four hundred years in the rest of the country. Some years ago, I pointed out that frome 1180 until about 775 B.C. Central Anatolia was very thinly populated, perhaps occupied only by some nomadic tribes who left no material traces in mound settlements. So great was the catastrophy that it wiped out even the Hittite traditions. One thing is certain: there were no urban settlements in the heart of Hittite lands until the birth of the Phrygian state».
As substitute for any definite conclusion I would like to assert the following:
- The cave colonies and subterranean cities could not have been excavated by the Christian refugees who lacked both the essential manpower and time, and who would have left behind at least a few incised crosses, or other religious symbols even in the most archaic sections, like they had done in the Valley of Göreme.
- The number of caves and subterranean habitations may never be computed. The relatively sharply defined Valley of Ihlara features circa 4000 formerly inhabited caves. Should we place only four people in each cave, the result would be a colony of 16.000 people. The four known subterranean complexes would add some 80.000 people to our statistic without counting the extensive colonies in the Valley of Göreme, Zelve, Gülsehir, Gümüskent and Avanos, to name a few.
- No subterranean city was constructed by the Hittites. None of their thousands of records carry any reference to such elaborate installations in the Hittite Empire. No Hittite burial urns were ever discovered in any of the subterranean cities and artifacts allegedly found at Derinkuyu could have been part of the booty of warriors who wrecked and burned the Hittite settle ments all the way to Hattusas.
- Archeology has nothing in hand either to prove or disprove the hypothesis of Phrygian tunnelling. Onetime Phrygian presence in the region is a proven historical fact.
- The existence of an identical system in Thrace, once Phrygian territory.
- The unique ancient record which mentions the existence of underground dwellings in Cappadocia comes frome the Greek general and historian Xenophon (ca 434 – 355 B.C.) who in his “Anabase” presents a brief account of his visit in an underground city in Eastern Anatolia. Xenophon writes about “narrow, inconspicuous entrances leading into spacious caverns deep underground.” He also mentions wine-presses and storage tanks, “filled with amphoras containing very strong wine.”
The author is convinced that no subterranean “cities” existed in Cappadoccia before 1200 B.C.
There are authors in Turkey who argue that subterranean cities already existed before the Hittite Kingdom period, citing the Acıgöl complex in which 3000 years old artifacts have been found; at long last one proven fact!
But Neolithic men lived in caves and its is quite possibile that some subsurface levels already existed three thousand years ago as natural cavities and were inhabited by them. It is hardly conceivable that men of the Stone Age could, or would excavate fifty-meter deep shafts and galleries with the tools they possessed. And for what purpose on earth should they have done it?