There are around 200 separate underground settlements in
Cappadocia. Although evidences of Prehistoric life have been
found in the area, it is not known whether the underground
settlements had any connection with that age.
The earliest record of the underground
settlements is to be found in Xenophon's "Anabasis" According to
this book, Hellenic communities stayed in the underground settlements of
Kaymakli and Derinkuyu, which makes it possible to date the cities back
as early as the end of the 4th century BC. There is also evidence that
the development of the underground settlements owes much to the Hittites.
Rock imprints and inscribed monuments on the rocks from the Hittite Empire
and the Neo-Hittite period, the presence of underground passages, known
as "Potern", which were used in the defense systems of the Hittite
towns, and the superior building techniques are all evidence of Hittite
involvement. The secret tunnels found in Hittite cities were generally
used to ambush attackers, and for defense.
If the Hittites did carve
out these settlements for military purposes, it is quite normal that no
artifacts from that time have been found. Besides this, dwellers
coming after the Hittites would have removed any such traces.
Objects found in the settlements
belong to the Byzantine period, that is the 5th to 10th centuries AD. The
number of underground settlements used for defense and for religious purposes
increased during this period.
The Arab-Sassanid raids,
which began in the 7th century, forced Christian communities to use these
underground settlements as refuges.
As the Caravanserai in Cappadocia
are found within 5-10km of the underground settlements, it is also supposed
that the Seljuk used these settlements as dwellings or for military purposes.
For example, Dolayhan Caravanserai is near to Til Köy underground
settlement, and Saruhan is near to Ozkonak.
Important underground settlements
are, Kaymakli, Derinkuyu, Mazi, Ozluce, Ozkonak, Tatlarin, Kurugol and