Excavations

Derikuyu was first discovered in 1963 during a home renovation project.  A Turkish family removed a wall of their new home and accidently opened up a passage into one of the caves.  With this tunnel now open, archaeologists were now free to explore the underground city.  However, had this passage not opened when it did, there is another way into Derinkuyu.  A similar site discovered in 2014 was accessed via a water tunnel, which was one of thirty mentioned in ancient documents about the site.  Based on this knowledge, it is possible that Derinkuyu could also have tunnels of this nature that could be investigated.

Once inside of the tunnels, archaeologists will notice that the city is made entirely out of soft volcanic rock.  This type of stone is very delicate and susceptible to collapse if not treated correctly.  To prevent this, researchers will need to provide support beams and pillars to protect themselves as they excavate.  Specifically, the use of micropile umbrellas (long metal tubes running along the tunnel ceiling) could be administered.  However, the amount of supports and how far they can be placed from each other is up to the excavation party’s technician and the availability of monetary resources.

Micropile and tunnel

Workmen using a micropile umbrella in a tunnel.

With these supports in place, archaeologists can then carefully remove rubble from the tunnel wall in search of artifacts.  The ideal tool to use is a small shovel or pick axe.  They will need to have bright light in order to see their progress and not bump into any walls.

An interesting point to note is that when Derikuyu was designed, its inhabitants included various support beams into the structure.  This idea speaks volumes to the intelligence of this ancient people and shows just how ahead of their time they were.

Columns in tunnel.

A few of the ancient supports built into Derinkuyu’s design.