Art&Seek Director Anne Bothwell is traveling in Turkey with a group of North Texas artists and writers. Read her previous post here.
Today we were in Cappadocia and Goreme, landscapes where lunar meets Doctor Seuss: fairy chimney after fairy chimney, dotted with cave windows.
The Hittites created underground cave communities here, when BC had more than a millenia left to go. They lived underground for up to 6 months at a time, when their above ground cities were under siege. Over the centuries the caves were expanded. The largest has 19 levels. The one we explored today, Kaymakli, had 6. There are 38 of them in the area, and one theory is that all are connected.
It’s mind-blowing to walk through this cave, lit fairly well, crouching through passages and imagining what it must have been like to feel one’s way through in the darkness, with only linseed candles and some holes in the wall that, braile-like, helped the cave dwellers find their way.
They lived without light, yet thought of everything – ingenious ways to store dried fruit, wine, water. To ventilate the caves, to create chimneys for weekly baking sessions. Handle human waste and the dead. To seal their doors and defend themselves.
Above ground, it was early Christians carving caves into the soft rock, to be used for hermitages, churches, monestaries, nunneries and living spaces. And then decorating them with stunning frescoes, now slowly eroding, that taught an illiterate population the story of Jesus. Wish I could show you pictures of them, but it’s forbidden to take them these days, to protect the frescoes.
Gotta run now; Checking out of our hotel (in a cave). The bus is here to take us to the airport. We’re off to Antalya.