Mysteries from the ancient civilizations along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, thought to be the “cradle of civilization”


Derinkuyu is another one of my favorite sites. It is located in the central Cappadocia region of Turkey and is referred to as the underground city. It was constructed 90 feet below ground, consists of 18 stories and was thought to house over 20,000 people and livestock. Scientists are unable to definitively date the site since they believe it was expanded by later civilizations and rock cannot be carbon dated. There have been artifacts found that date to at least the 5th century A.D. They also have not been able to determine who built Derinkuyu or why they built it.

The 1,000+ pound doors found in the site suggest it was built to protect from invaders, but there is no evidence of that. Others believe it was built to survive against the last ice age over 12,000 years ago. Ventilation shafts are found throughout the city, as well as wine and oil presses, stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories and chapels.

Regardless of how or why our ancestors built the underground city, its construction defies our understanding of what our ancestors were able to construct.

Why this fascinates me:

1. There is a VERY specific reason these people built such an amazing structure underground.  What were they afraid of? Was this built during the last ice age?

2. We are not totally certain who built Derinkuyu or when it was built.  These could be another case of an ancient site much older than we think. Did another civilization in the 5th century A.D. find and settle Derinkuyu?

3. An ancient underground fortress?  Fantastic material for fiction writing!



20,000 people were thought to live underground

Wine and oil presses, stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, and chapels.

Wine and oil presses, stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, and chapels.

Göbekli Tepe

Göbekli Tepe is probably my favorite ancient site.  It is located in the Southeastern region in Turkey and excavations have been going on since 1996. Less than 5% of the site has been excavated and scientists have dated the site to at least 9,000 B.C.  You can find more details about the site here.

There are multiple reasons why I find this site so fascinating.  First, its dating makes it the oldest construction site this advanced. The building skills and carvings found on the site suggests we were more than just simple nomadic hunter/gathers during that period as previously thought.  We didn’t think we were able to build something this significant until we started harvesting crops, settled in one place and had the time and resources for such achievements. The Sumer civilization in Mesopotamia, often considered the “cradle of civilization”, was said to be established in 6,500 B.C., however Gobleki Tepe is older by thousands of years and this clearly shows “civilization”. Also, we must have known how to build such structures way before Göbekli Tepe was built. We had to have learned these skills much earlier, but where and when?


One of the many “T-pilars” found with strange animal carvings; animals that were not known to exist in the area at that time.

Second, we have no idea who built Göbekli Tepe or why they built it.  Since so little has been excavated, the site is huge and when (or if) it is entirely excavated we may find more evidence that continues to challenge what we think we know of “prehistoric” civilizations. Scientists think we gathered here to share food, ideas and maybe even started to think about “religion”.

And finally, it is thought that Göbekli Tepe was intentionally buried by the last inhabitants.  It’s one thing to abandon the site once agriculture took hold, but why take all the time and energy to bury it?

For me, this proves there is a lost history of man that we know very little about. We evolved very little for millions of years and then within 12,000 years we went from simple farmers to sending a man to the moon. Something had to gradually make us a more advanced

and Göbekli Tepe is just one clue as to what that was.

Only 5% of the size has been excavated

Only 5% of the site has been excavated

Here is a great video to learn more about the fascinating site of Gobekli Tepe.