«Underground Christian city has been discovered»
A vast underground Christian city of 70,000 inhabitants has been discovered in Turkey.
A team of archaeologists at the Mardin Museum has discovered a massive underground city, perhaps the largest in the world, according to the Jerusalem Post.
..."My estimate is that we are talking about a city of at least 60,000-70,000 inhabitants who lived hidden in catacombs," said the coordinator of the archeological site."
It is a city where Christian families have taken refuge to escape persecution in the 2-3rd century. It was carved in limestone rock, specific to the Cappadocia region, thus building an entire underground system of caves and tunnels, hidden from the Roman Empire.
Archaeologists who excavated in the city of Midyat first discovered a cave from where they later uncovered countless passages and corridors, hidden places of worship, food silos and water fountains. The objects found date mainly from the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, before the appearance of the Byzantine Empire and the acceptance of the Christian faith in the empire. Gani Tarkan is the director of the Mardin Museum and also the coordinator of these excavations. He said underground cities had been found in the region, but not because of its size. "My estimate is that we are talking about a city of at least 60,000-70,000 inhabitants who lived hidden in catacombs," said the coordinator of the archeological site. "Midyat was first built as a hiding place or escape tunnel. Christianity was not an accepted religion in the second century, "he said.
The history of the Christian region of Cappadocia goes back to the apostolic period. The apostle Paul had come to Philippi from Caesarea (Cappadocia), where he had preached the word of the Lord. Many have become Christians here since the first century, with the church here becoming more important. In Byzantine times, Cappadocia became an important Christian spiritual center. Saint Basil the Great was the bishop of Caesarea. Together with his brother, St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Gregory of Nazianzus, he founded the first monasteries that trained missionary Christians.
Fifteen churches have previously been discovered in the Goreme Valley in Cappadocia, ten of which are open to the public. Their architecture is special, the way they were designed, carved at the base of rock helmets. It is estimated that there are over 300 churches carved in stone in Goreme, Zelve, Ihlara and others. In them was celebrated the Christian cult for larger or smaller communities, but very strongly linked by faith, a model for today's parishes.
Unfortunately, this region was gradually abandoned by Christians in the 16th century due to pressure from the Ottoman Empire, which forced Christians to pay a tax / tribute or convert to Islam, forcing their children to janissaries in the Ottoman army.