Recently a large underground city was found in Turkey thought to be 2,000 years old and a refuge for early Christians escaping Roman persecution.
According to CBN News, excavators found the ancient complex inside a limestone cave in the Midyat district of Turkey’s Mardin province. The underground city contains storage chambers for food and water, homes, and houses of worship, including a church and what appears to be the remains of an ancient synagogue with a Star of David, painted on the wall.
After archeologists found the city, they located Roman-era items like coins and even lamps. This led them to believe the city was built in roughly the second or third century A.D. The underground city is called 'Matiate.'
"Christianity was not an official religion in the second century [and] families and groups who accepted Christianity generally took shelter in underground cities to escape the persecution of Rome," says Gani Tarkan, director of Mardin Museum and head of excavations to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency. "Possibly, the underground city of Midyat was one of the living spaces built for this purpose."
Even with everything they have found, archeologists believe they've only uncovered roughtl five per cent of the hidden city.
"In the early period of Christianity, Rome was under the influence of pagans before later recognizing Christianity as an official religion," Lozan Bayar, an archaeologist with Mardin's Office for Protection and Supervision told Hürriyet Daily News. "Such underground cities provided security to people and they also performed their prayers there. They were also places of escape."
Preliminary findings show that the entire complex could be about 4 million square feet, which would be enough to house between 60,000 to 70,000 people.