Science

4,000-Year-Old Hidden Tunnel Discovered In Ancient Castle In Turkey

Excavations being carried out at Geval Castle in Central Anatolia, Turkey, have revealed a secret tunnel that had been built by the Hittites about 4,000 years ago.  Around 150 meters of the tunnel, which had been closed off with a vault, have been investigated so far.

Geval Castle sits on the peak of Takkel Mountain at an altitude of 1,700 meters, just 7 kilometers west of Konya, the seventh most populous city in Turkey, and once home to many civilizations during the Hittite, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, Karamanids and Ottoman eras. Its strategic position, with a 360-degree view of the surrounding area, reveals Geval Castle’s key role as a defensive structure in the region.

The ruins of Geval Castle sit atop Takkel Mountain in Konya’s Selçuklu district. Source: Hurriyet Daily News.

Archaeological excavations of Geval Castle started in 2012 under the direction of the Seljuk Municipality, Ministry of Culture, the General Directorate of Konya Museum and the University of Necmettin Erbakan. According to Arkeolo Jihaber, numerous artifacts were recovered from the site including glazed and unglazed ceramic pots, pans, some metal objects and a variety of small hand goods. Last year, the archaeological team also unearthed a temple, and numerous rock-hewn cisterns.

Now researchers have also discovered a secret tunnel built by the Hittites around four millennia ago, which was used all the way through to the Seljuk era (11th – 12th century AD), Hurriyet Daily News reports.

Rock-hewn cisterns unearthed at Geval Castle, Turkey.

Rock-hewn cisterns unearthed at Geval Castle, Turkey. Credit: Selcuklu

“We have discovered secret tunnels in the castle,” head of the excavations Professor Ahmet Çaycı told Hurriyet Daily. “We have cleaned there and revealed a 100-150-meter part of the tunnel. We believe that it is almost 300 meters [long]. This tunnel becomes integrated with the cistern. This structure was also found in the Urartian castles in Van. This tunnel is connected to the cistern through a secret way.”

Çaycı said that the tunnel establishes a connection with the outside of the castle and continued: “It is closed with a vault and looks like a part of the land. But when you go deeper, you understand that it is a tunnel. The first examples of secret tunnels go back to the Hittites. This tunnel is about 4,000 years old. Our findings show that it was used by the Seljuks but we are sure it was also used in earlier eras. This tunnel was built in the Hittites era.”

The Hittites were an ancient Anatolian people who established an empire in north-central Anatolia around 1600 BC. This empire reached its height during the mid-14th century BC when it encompassed an area that included most of Asia Minor as well as parts of the northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia. After 1180 BC, the empire came to an end during the Bronze Age collapse, splintering into several independent “Neo-Hittite” city-states, some of which survived until the 8th century BC.

Çaycı said the excavations at Geval Castle would take a break at the end of the month and will resume in May 2016.

Featured image: Ancient tunnel found inside Geval Castle. (Konya Life)

By April Holloway

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