One Homeowner Found an Ancient City Under His Basement in 1963

published Aug 11, 2023
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old couch from the 70s, in a basement
Credit: MYP Studio

If viral videos are any indication, finding creepy hidden spaces in your home isn’t an occurrence relegated to horror movies. In the past few months alone, people’s accounts of finding everything from hidden trap doors to secret indoor pools have blown up online. But as a recent History Photographed Instagram post pointed out, this isn’t a new trend by any means. Case in point: Back in 1963, a man found an entire ancient city underneath his basement.

It all started when a Turkish man took a sledgehammer to one of his basement walls, only to end up with much more than some simple home renovation. Instead, he found a tunnel leading to a series of interconnected halls and chambers up to 18 levels and 280 feet deep.

Eventually, the area was identified as the underground city of Derinkuyu. As the BBC pointed out, archaeologists debate when exactly the city was first built. Creation of the city is often credited to the Hittites, an ancient group of Indo-Europeans who moved to what is now known as Turkey around 1600 BCE. However, Florida State University professor Andrea De Giorgi told the BBC, most of Derinkuyu was likely built by Iron-age architects called the Phrygians.

The city went on to serve as a haven from invaders, particularly during 7th-century Islamic raids on the largely Christian Byzantine Empire. Derinkuyu’s population peaked during this time, housing nearly 20,000 residents.

In the 40 years since Derinkuyu was rediscovered, it’s been excavated. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, eight of the city’s 18 levels are open for visitors to tour — the more you know!