Archaeologists excavating a fortress in central Turkey have discovered a secret tunnel dating to perhaps 4000 years ago. So far, little is known about the hidden tunnel, which stretches at least 300 feet through the ruins of Gevale Kalesi (castle), located near Konya. Archaeologists believe another 1000 feet of tunnel may yet be found.
Hurriyet Daily News explains that the 30-person archaeological team, led by Ahmet Çaycı of Necmettin Erbakan University, was primarily focused on locating and excavating cisterns—water tanks used by the castle’s former inhabitants—in order to figure out how many people may have lived in Gevale Castle at different times. While the hilltop's earliest occupation appears to go back to the Bronze Age Hittites, the site was in use through the Ottoman era. In the Middle Ages, the Seljuks seem to have made use of the tunnel. "Our findings show that it was used by the Seljuks, but we are sure it was also used in earlier eras," Çaycı told the newspaper.
According to Çaycı, the cisterns provide researchers with valuable information about the castle’s history. “The number of cisterns in the castle gives us clues about how many people used them in which eras,” Çaycı told Hurriyet Daily News. “We will find answers to the questions like how many cubic meters of water had been collected in these cisterns and how many people were able to benefit from it.”
The recently discovered tunnel will provide clues about the site's original inhabitants. Çaycı explained that numerous ancient cultures made use of hidden tunnels for a range of purposes; figuring out where the tunnel in Gevale Castle leads, and what it was for, will help archaeologists better understand the Hittites, one of the most powerful cultures of the Bronze Age.
Unfortunately, archaeology enthusiasts will have to wait to find out more about the secret tunnel: the team has completed its field season for the year. Excavations will resume in May 2016.
[h/t: Hurriyet Daily News]