The massive subterranean city recently discovered in Turkey was home to an agricultural community that lived 5,000 years ago, archaeologists have said.
More details have emerged about the underground city – which could be the world's biggest – following its discovery in the Central Anatolian province of Nevşehir.
Archaeologists unearthed the city during work on an urban transformation project. Turkey's Housing Development Administration's (TOKİ) immediately stopped work when construction workers came across the giant city while moving earth to make way for new homes.
However, very little was known about the site – including who built it and who lived there.
The Hurriyet Daily News said further details about the site have now emerged. The tunnels are located under a conical-shaped hill that acted as a fortress. They were wide enough for a car to pass through and stretch for at least 7km.
Özcan Çakır, associate professor at the Geophysics Engineering at the Canakkale (18 March) University, said the width of the tunnels suggest a farming community lived at the site.
"We believe that people, who were engaged in agriculture, were using the tunnels to carry agricultural products to the city. We also estimate that one of the tunnels passes under Nevşehir and reaches a faraway water source."
"There is a fortress on top of a conical-shaped hill; it is alleged to belong to the Seljuks. We made geophysical measurements in an area of 4km2 and the [underground] city was surrounding the fortress in circular forms."
Experts believe that about two-thirds of the city was carved by means of the tunnels.
The area where the city was discovered is one of an extensive network of subterranean dwellings.
The largest, Kaymakli, is still used today for storage. The deepest underground city ever discovered is underneath the town of Derinkuyu – it was home to an estimated 20,000 people and was located 11 stories deep.
Hasan Ünver, mayor of Nevşehir, is currently in talks with the head of TOKİ regarding the excavation and protection of the ancient city.