Thursday, December 18, 2008

When Christianity Went Underground

posted by Aunty Cindy aka Loucinda McGary

Ten days ago, I wrapped up my two week tour of Turkey, a fascinating place brimming with history and culture. I can't recommend a visit there highly enough.

One of the places I looked forward to seeing most was the Cappadocia region. This area is a wide expanse between two now extinct volcanoes with highly unusual rock formations called "fairy chimneys." These were created by a hard layer of rock which did not erode at the same rate as the softer layer of rock (called tufa) underneath.

I knew that the inhabitants of this region carved caves out of the soft tufa stone and sometimes lived in them. What I didn't know until I got there, was that entire cities (the largest with an estimated population of 16,000) were carved underground! Some of the cities date back to prehistoric times, and some of them were inhabited up until the 1950s when the Turkish government decided they were historic treasures and great tourist attractions and moved everyone out.

The real heyday of these underground cities, and the part that fascinated me the most was from around the 2nd to the 5th centuries AD. Christians fleeing persecution from first the Romans, then the Arabs, moved into the region and expanded the underground cities into a network of over 100 different locations.

Cities went down 10 or more levels and were interconnected with an elaborate system of tunnels. Entrances were camouflaged into hillsides, and top levels were usually stables since the tunnels were too narrow to accommodate livestock. Though the inhabitants lived above ground most of the time, during times of attack or war, the cities could easily sustain themselves for months at a time and were pretty much impenetrable.

This big rock that looks like a millstone was rolled into place at the entrance to each level. The hole in the center was for shooting arrows at the enemy, who pretty much had to approach in single file due to the narrow tunnels. Since the cities were interconnected, runners would let a neighboring city know they were under attack and a counter attack could be launched. The early Christians were able to live and thrive here for several centuries.

We visited the underground city of Kaymakil, which had eight levels and an estimated population of 3,000. Four of the levels are now open for tourists, but yer olde Aunty (whose head almost scraped the ceilings in the largest rooms) only went down two. My DH (who could not stand straight except in the stable) went to all four, though he had to crawl on hands and knees through the connecting tunnels. Definitely no place for anyone with claustrophobia!

Today is day 7 of our Banditas' 12 Days of Christmas. In the traditional Christmas carol, this would be the day "my true love" sent 7 Swans a Swimming. Just like the underground cities of Cappadocia, this song was about more than meets the eye. It was written by Catholics during the time when they could not openly practice their religion in England, and the words had a double meaning. According to Aunty's sources, the 7 Swans a Swimming represent the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit -- prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, contribution, leadership, and mercy.

Have you ever been surprised by something that turned out to be more than it seemed? Do you think you could live 7 or 8 stories underground?

Did you know that the GR has a Turkish cousin living near the ruins of the city of Troy?


Virginia said...

Did I get him again!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

CONGRATS Virginia!
The GR is going back to your house today.


Virginia said...

Woo Hoo got the GR again!!

No I don't think I could live that far under ground. That would have been an amazing trip you took. I would love go there myself. There seem to be a lot of history there.

I have been back in tunnels that were created by removing the rock for use. There use to be a rock quary near where I grew up. These tunnels are large enough to drive and RV into. They went on for miles.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I can not recommend Turkey highly enough! It was a fantastic trip, plus we had a fabulous guide. There is so much history in the area... the Greeks, the Persians, the Romans and more ALL came to Turkey, and they all left their unique stamps behind. A lot of early Christian history happened there with St. Paul, St. John, and the Virgin all living in and around Ephesus, but I'll save that for a future post.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Have fun with the chook!

I will catch up with everyone later in the morning.

off to dreamland

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Virginia.

Hi Aunty Cindy,
I had no idea that the GR has a Turkish cousin. I not sure if I could live 8 stories underground. I guess if I were hiding I would have no choice. When I was little we went to Virgina and visited Luray Caverns. I thought we were just going to an ordinary cave. I was expecting a dark hole with dirt, but I had no idea it was such a magical place with its stalactites and stalagmites.

Donna MacMeans said...

Heck I get claustrophic in a closed bathroom stall *g*. If the city rooms were large enough and populated, I could do it - but getting there would be a problem.

Fascinating post, AC. Both for the information on Turkey and on the seven swans a'swimming. And here I thought the gift was to beautify a pond. You hang around the bandits enough, you're bound to learn something *g*

flchen1 said...

Wow, AC! What an amazing visit that must have been! I doubt I'd be OK with living underground, although it sounds like those early Christians didn't have much of a choice if they wanted to survive! How blessed we are to avoid similar persecution today, at least in the US. And no, I didn't know that the seven swans were gifts of the Spirit--as Donna said, you learn something new all the time here in the Lair! So glad it was such an amazing trip, AC!

Congrats on the GR, Virginia!

Helen said...

Congrats Virginia have fun with him maybe he will bring his Turkish cousin along for a visit.

Aunty Cindy the holiday sounds fantastic but I could never go down under ground like that I would be afraid I would get stuck and not be able to get back and really don't like heights very much either but I would love to see some of the sights that you have.

I have just come back from visiting Bec and Jake I gave him his first bath today how lucky am I.
I will be back later and check everyones posts this little black duck is still very tired.

Have Fun

limecello said...

Congrats on the GR, Virginia! Aunty Cindy - what a great post! I've often been surprised by things :P - and have recently been very interested in the [new?] series on the history channel "cities of the underworld" - it's fascinating.
As for living 7-8 stories underground. Eek. If somehow they could engineer it so I could have ... direct sunlight? Or an amazing imitation? And SPACE. Oh I don't know. I think I could only live there if I knew I could easily access the "surface world."

Minna said...

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

David Copperfield - Snow Dream

Gillian Layne said...

Congrats, Virginia!

Hurray for history--thanks so much for sharing your trip. That's as close as I would probably get to seeing it--I can't imagine going underground. Give me wide open spaces, please. :)

Anna Sugden said...

Wow - how fascinating, AC. Sounds like a wonderful trip. I've only been to Turkey a couple of times - but always enjoyed it. Of course, I benefit from looking Turkish so I don't get hassled in the bazaars or get my bum pinched! (unlike my blonde, blue-eyed best friend!)

I've always wanted to go to Cooper Peedy in Australia, where they mine opals (and not just to buy more opals!). It is so hot there they live underground.

Anna Sugden said...

Jane - love Luray - went there so many times as a child when we lived in Va. Always a wonder.

And to answer Auntie's question - the Arches National Park in Utah was spectacular. I was expecting a few natural stone arches - yawn. But, it is truly awe-inducing. Every corner you turn has more raw, natural beauty and wonder. Even, dare I say it, more spectacularly beautiful than the Grand Canyon - though that too is lovely. And one can't forget the fabulous slot canyons near Lake Powell in Arizona.

Laurie said...

I could never live under ground! I'm claustropobic with a blanket over my head! We traveled to the Tucson, AZ area one year and took acave tour. I was petrified with lights on! I ouldn't go through the whole thing. Just hated it! It felt like I was suffacating! I hate elevators too. Liked the history & Christianity ties. I'd never heard of that link before. INTERESTING!

Maureen said...

That was a great post because I knew nothing of those tunnels and they look so interesting. Thank you for the great pictures. I don't think I could live underground like that and I think it's amazing that thousands could.

Deb Marlowe said...

Hi AC!

Wow, what a fantastic trip! I'd love to follow in your footsteps. Someday!

Hmm, I think I would miss the sun too much if I lived underground. I'm addicted to light, air and windows. Breezes. But it's amazing the things you can adapt to, so who knows? I'd love to visit, anyway!

Congrats Virginia!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Wow Virginia, you go girl!!

I am afraid I am like Donna, can't go tight places. To protect me and mine I would probably try but don't know how long I could hold out.

I knew the GR had a large family scattered about but didn't realize it scatter as far as Turkey.

Sue A. said...

Fascination post! A side of Turkey I didn't know about. I never knew such cities existed. It makes me think of the Beauty & Beast TV show, with their underground habitat.

I'm a night owl so living underground would not phase me as much and I'm not claustrophobic so I could probably handle it better than most.

Monica McCabe said...

Hi Loucinda!

I'm envious of your trip to Turkey! I'm always fascinated by underground cities. Didn't know about Turkey, but I can say that I used to live and work in Missoula, Montana and the downtown has a matching city underground. Back in the 1800's when they were building the railroad, the Chinese did a lot of the labor. They either didn't like to mingle with the natives or they weren't accepted, either way they created a whole maze of streets under the city. I worked in one of the buildings downtown and the basement had a door that opened to the tunnels. It was amazing. They had torches placed for lighting, decorative store fronts and the building I worked in was an old gambling den.

Of course, the city closed off as much access as they could due to insurance reasons, but I always thought it would be a neat tourist attraction.

Louisa Cornell said...

Yes, Virginia, you DID nab the chook! And perhaps his Turkish cousin as well? Maybe he will bring some Turkish Delight, another of my favorite sweets!

Aunty, I am SO jealous of your trip! My Dad traveled in the Middle East quite a bit and brought back so many great photos (Polaroids back then!) and some gorgeous stuff!

I would love to have toured the underground cities! SO much history. I think I could live underground as I tend to be something of a hermit these days. I was fortunate (or some say unfortunate) enough that my DH's best friend was a big spelunker. We went on several cave explorations in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. We went into one that at the end we had to crawl on our hands and knees down this long passage. It opened up into this pitch black cave. We stood along the edge of it and turned on our lamps and it was alive with bats! Sounds gross, but it was truly amazing!

Hey, there are some books that are like the seven swans thing. You buy them based on a blurb or a recommendation with one set of expectations and then you read them and they just blow you away. I LOVE those kind of books!

Nancy said...

Virginia, congratulations!

AC, what an interesting post! The fantasy reader in me loves this concept of underground cities in volcanic rock. I don't know that I'd want to live there, though. I'm really accustomed to windows. And think how dark it would be without candles. Which would consume the oxygen.

Hmm. I wouldn't have said I was claustrophobic, but this is beginning to sound like it's not for me.

BTW, this week's Top Chef featured foods inspired (very loosely) by the "days" in that song.

Christie Kelley said...

Great post, AC. Turkey sounds like a fantastic place. Maybe some day I'll get there.

As far living underground, I just don't think so. I don't even like my basement and it's finished. I need light.

p226 said...

More than meets the eye... Nothing's coming to mind other than myself, as generally, in a work or social setting I tend to be a bit stoic and reserved. Those that take the time to get to know me better always express surprise. It never fails.

Though... you mentioned the 12 days of Christmas song, and that's really "more than meets the ear." It was just yesterday that I was educating a coworker along similar lines, though, not with a Christmas theme.

A lot of songs are a lot more than initially meets the ear. One of the most "in your face" examples of this is what's now a classic rock tune -- "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osborne. I consider it a masterpiece for much more than a catchy rhythm and good guitar work.

Ozzy's guitar player at the time was the late Randy Rhoads. Randy's stated goal was to fuse blues, rock, and classical music. Crazy Train is one of the best examples of that fusion I've ever heard. But you have to know what you're hearing. And you have to see it as well as hear it.

The origins of Blues started with the slaves. There were essentially two main rhythmic devices. The first of these was the call and refrain rhythm. A voice or an instrument would call, and another voice or instrument would refrain. This was often used as a "code" for runaway slaves sung under the guise of spirituals. If the slaves in the field were calling and refraining "go down by the water," it was a message to passing runaway slaves to use the river to pass this plantation.

The second, later rhythmic device was to mimic the sound of the old steam locomotive. I once heard a fellow say "you can't be no blues man if you can't make the train go." Well, in Crazy Train, Rhoads most certainly made the train go. If you listen to it, you can hear the initial chuck-chuck sounds (made by his guitar) as the train begins to move. He uses a pick-slide to mimic the sound of the old steam whistle. Then the train picks up speed a little with the catchy intro guitar part that's so unmistakably "Crazy Train." Then while Ozzy sings, the guitar mimics the sound of the steam locomotive running full throttle.

All of the sounds of the steam locomotive are reproduced by Randy's guitar. The sound of the steam pulses, the clack and squeaking of the rails, and of course, the old steam whistle. And all through this, he mixes classical scales and chord progressions.

Give that tune a listen sometime in the future. And when you do, listen with the volume turned up. Imagine the old steam locomotive leaving the station, picking up speed, and then finally running full throttle through the country-side.

So much in music is more than meets the ear. And sometimes, brilliance is right in our faces and we're so accustomed to it that we don't bother to crack the code.

Nancy said...

Jane and Fedora, you have a point about necessity. I've never been to Luray Caverns, though I hear they're amazing. I did visit a cave in the NC mountains once, and it was beautiful inside. Despite the close quarters, it didn't feel claustrophobic.

Helen, I'm glad everything's going so well with the new babies.

Limecello, we watch that program about what's under cities. We used to love Digging for the Truth with Josh Bernstein, but we didn't warm to the replacement hosts and have seen Josh only once since his move to Discovery.

Nancy said...

Minna, thanks for the video links you send through. They're hard to watch here on Planet Dial-Up, but I take a peek at them when I'm at school and have high-speed. They're always fun.

Anna, you make me want to go out west and see these beautiful places.

Sue A., a friend of mine LOVED Beauty and the Beast and still follows Ron Perlman's career. Linda Hamilton seems to have dropped off the radar lately.

Monica, that underground city sounds amazing, and I agree that it would bring in tourists. If they fixed it up, they could make money off it, I think.

Louisa wrote: Hey, there are some books that are like the seven swans thing. You buy them based on a blurb or a recommendation with one set of expectations and then you read them and they just blow you away. I LOVE those kind of books!

Me, too. I never thought of it that way, but I think you've hit on something.

Nancy said...

p226, that's a fascinating discourse on music and history. Good to have you back.

Kate Carlisle said...

Aunty, it's so good to have you back! What a fascinating trip you took. Those caves are amazing, and no, I can't imagine living so far underground. Although I might be motivated to change my mind if I were being chased by angry guards carrying spears and/or guns. :-)

And what a handsome Turkish cousin the GR has! I wonder if the cousin has his same bon vivant tendencies. ;-)

Congrats, Virginia!!

Thanks for the cool background info on "Crazy Train," p226. I'm itching to listen to it now.

jo robertson said...

Very interesting post, Cindy! The ingenuity of those early inhabitants is remarkable.

I showed Boyd those piccies and he reminded me that we went down into some of the similar catacombs when we were in the middle east. Yikes, I'd forgotten. Must've been claustrophobic!

Congrats on the rooster, Virginia.

jo robertson said...

I've visited those caverns in Virginia too, Jane. Aren't they amazing and beautiful!

We also visited some in Germany when I was a girl (can't remember their names), and I remember being very, very afraid LOL.

jo robertson said...

Helen, how lucky you are to give Jake his first bath. I'm tending Emma tomorrow and I'm so excited!

terrio said...

What a great blog. I hope to take a Mediterranean cruise in the next five years or so and stops in Turkey are a must. I can't imagine experiencing that kind of history. Though I realize one day layovers wouldn't be nearly enough time to get it all or even some of it in.

I couldn't live underground like that. I need sunlight too much. But I suppose if coming above ground meant being killed, I could make an exception.

I didn't know that about the 12 Days of Christmas though being Catholic I guess I should have. I love learning about the origins of things. If I'm going to do something, I like to know why I'm doing it. And there's nothing more aggravating than having the answer to "why?" come back as "Because we've always done it that way?" Grrrr... I hate that. LOL!

Buffie said...

Wow, AC, what a fabulous post! Sounds like you all had a wonderful time. It seems like a place I would love to visit. But not really sure if I could live like that.

Gannon Carr said...

I would love to go to Turkey someday, AC. It's a fascinating country. Although I don't consider myself claustrophobic, I don't think I could live so far underground.

Congrats on nabbing the GR, Virginia.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Morning everyone!

BRRRRRR it is COLD here on the Left Coast! My friend Tina Ferraro (who will be guesting with us next month) told me it snowed at her place in SoCal. Seen any flakes there at the beach, Kate?!?! SNOW flakes I meant. :-P

Jane and others who mentioned Luray, it sounds beautiful! I've been in a few of those limestone caverns -- Oregon caves, and Moaning Cave aren't too far from here. Been in Wind Cave in South Dakota(?) and in the cave on Gibraltar (St. Michaels?). I've even been in a cave in Ireland whose name escapes at the moment. But I have NOT been to Mammoth Caves in Kentucky, nor Carlsbad in NM. Anyone seen those?

In my experience, they are not overall so tight and claustrophobic as the underground city. Maybe that's because they don't let you go into the small, cramped quarters.

Everyone seems to mention the lack of light, and I was surprised to learn that the underground cities were constructed with multiple shafts for light and ventilation! They also burned linseed oil lamps, not candles or torches. Apparently linseed was easy to find in that area.


Crianlarich said...

Fascinating, Cindy! I love this kind of stuff and really, really enjoyed your post. Thank you!

I have only been to Istanbul. I wish I'd seen more like you did. Wow. What struck me most was how friendly the people were. Also loved, loved, loved the food. Especially the famed 'Raki Table' with a gazillion different starters and raki to wash it all down.

Another memory was being offered hot tea by the shopkeeper of every little shop we entered. I was afraid of offending them if I refused, but after having to drink a cup of hot tea in every single shop, well, you can imagine how uncomfortable I became. Yikes!

And no, I do not think I could live in such a place. I love big skies and wild, wide open hills and rugged cliffs and moorland kind of places.

Thanks again for a wonderful, wonderful post.

Pat Cochran said...

Hello to all, especially p226,it's so good to "see" you again!

I had read about the hidden style
of communications during the days
of slavery some time back. I also knew about the hidden religious
connection with "Twelve Days." But
I didn't know about Rhoads/Osbourne
and "Crazy Train." Will have to
look for a copy of that. Thanks for
the information, love to learn
new things even at my "advanced"

Pat Cochran

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Helen,
How's little Jake? You are indeed lucky to give him his first bath!

Jo-Mama took me to lunch for my bday yesterday, and I helped her pick out a little suit for Emma that said Beary Merry Christmas. Pink, of course! SO CUTE!

LOL Donna on getting claustrophobic in the bathroom stall. I've got a GREAT picture for you of the public potty in Ephesus, circa 200 AD with a lovely view of the Celcius Library.

Ah yes, the THINGS you learn in the Lair!

Happy to be just one font of useless information,

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey VA,
I'd LURVE to visit Cooper Peedy too! I saw a wonderful film (Thank you Netflix!) set there called "Opal Dreams" I think. The father was a miner and the little girl had two imaginary friends. Darling story!

Sadly, I didn't get my bum pinched this time. But I only went into the Spice Market in Istanbul and left the Grand Bazaar to the DH. In addition to tight spaces, I also don't like CROWDS!

P.S. For any single women in the Lair, most Turkish men are QUITE GOOD-LOOKING. Yet another reason to visit!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Sue A and Nancy,
The underground cities stirred all kinds of creative ideas for me too! I'd forgotten about the underground world of Beauty & Beast, but I immediately thought of Tolkien's dwarves and their subterranean halls and dwellings. Being tall was definitely a disadvantage!

And it is truly amazing how people can adapt when necessity steps in! One nice thing about living underground is a constant temperature. People in the area often use old tunnels to store foodstuffs to keep it from freezing.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Monica!

I've visited Missoula and had no idea about its underground history. Seattle has something similar and offers tours. So does Sac, and they did offer some tours last year around Halloween. Alas, I didn't get to go on one.

Sacramento's underground history isn't nearly so interesting as Missoula. Since the city is built at the confluence of two rivers, it used to flood here with great regularity. Eventually, all the houses and buildings close to the waterfront just moved everything up to the second floor, put the sidewalk up on stilts and VOILA! Your first floor was now your basement and your second floor was now your main living and/or shop space.

AC the history buff

Virginia said...

Great vidio Minni really cool!

Congrats Helen for getting to give Jake his first bath. Those little one can wear a person out real quick. I have a 1 year old great niece, she is so sweet but is into everything.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

To all who did not know the "secret code" aspect of 12 Days of Christmas, NEITHER DID I! I'm not Catholic, but I am a BIG fan of English history and was surprised I'd never heard this before.

I was actually going to do a post on the carol, but then received my pictures back from Turkey and decided to go with this post instead. Thanx a BUNCH for letting me know you enjoyed it!

Ya NEVER KNOW WHAT you'll learn in the Lair!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

And speaking of YOU NEVER KNOW...

BIG THANX p226 for the interesting info on Blues! I knew it started with the slaves but had no idea about the "coded" aspect of the refrains. GREAT STUFF!

Also, my son is a HUGE Randy Rhoads fan, so I'll be sure he plays "Crazy Train" for me the next time I visit. Music when done by someone with amazing talent like RR truly is magical!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I KNOW what you mean about the hot apple tea. EVERY shop keeper wants to serve it to you, and after a couple of glasses... Fortunately, I managed to find "Western" WCs throughout this trip! Sometimes it was a challenge, but I managed it. ;-)

And Raki is DEADLY! For those who don't know, it is an alcoholic beverage similar to Ouzo. VERY STRONG with a licorice flavor. The Raki is served with a second glass of either water or ice. It is clear until you mix in the ice/water, then it turns cloudy, but STILL DEADLY! I think it must be about 90 proof! ACK!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I must run out and do some errands now, so play nicely amongst yourselves until I get back.

Virginia, I hope the chook is behaving himself. I nearly fell off my seat in the tour bus when we approached the ruins of Troy and here was this golden cockerel lording it over a half-dozen hens in a house's front yard!

Don't forget that one lucky commenter today will win our seventh prize in the Banditas' 12 Days of Christmas!

Be back soon,

Helen said...

I love the fact that the lair is a fountain of information.

Anna S I have seen lots of documentries on the underground houses in Cooper Pedy and some of them are awesome they have every mod con you can think of and they are apparently really cool seeing as it is so hot outside.

I have visited The Jenolan Caves here in NSW and these are really lovely although I don't think they are deep but a beautiful place to visit.

Aunty Cindy Corey or Jake didn't wait till your birthday but very close to it I hope you have a wonderful day filled with happiness and fun.

Have Fun

Helen said...


I know exactly what you mean I have a 2 year old grandson and a 1 year old granddaughter and butter wouldn't melt in their mouths but they certainly know how to get into mischief I wouldn't have them any other way LOL.

The chook is usually good value playing with them !

Have Fun

Nancy said...

Speaking of Trojan ruins, AC, I hope you took lots of pictures! Thanks for the info on ventilation shafts. They make the underground living concept far more appealing.

How could I have forgotten Moria? Thanks for the reminder. That's one of my favorite sequences in the Fellowship of the Ring movie.

You wrote: here was this golden cockerel lording it over a half-dozen hens in a house's front yard!

Oh, lordy Pete! They ARE related!

Kate, seeing your cover reminds me--won't the actual book be available very early in the coming year?

Kate Carlisle said...

LOL Aunty! We've got plenty of flakes here in Venice -- but no snow! It's cold, though. 30's and 40's, can you believe it? Brrrrr!!

Hey Nancy, thanks! HOMICIDE IN HARDCOVER's official launch is February 3 but I expect there might be a few early sightings. I'll need pictures if anybody spies a copy!

traveler said...

Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip. I could never be underground. I need wide, open spaces and a huge horizon. I need sunshine, warmth and limitless skies.

Cassondra said...

Wow, Aunty Cindy, what a cool post! I actually think I could do it. I could live down there for short periods. I would need to be able to come out into the sunlight semi-regularly in order to thrive, but I would be okay down there. It begs lots of questions about how they handled things like water and sanitation and such, and I bet the solutions were actually workable. To support that many people they'd have to be.

I also didn't know about the 12 days of Christmas. First time I've ever heard that.

I've NEVER wanted to go to Turkey. It would have been near the bottom of my list of places to visit, but now I want to see these underground cities.

I live just a few miles from Mammoth Cave, one ofthe largest, if not THE largest karst cave system in the world (at least, of ones that have been discovered). It includes old salt mines, hospitals, and some of the most gorgeous cave formations ever. I've been in there when they've turned all the lights out. True darkness. No light anywhere. And I've taken "lantern tours" back into the parts of the cave that have no development--no artificial lighting. Of course, the ceilings are 30 feet high and the rooms are huge, so most of it would work for anyone. There are a few tours with tight spaces. Can't recommend those to Donna! ;0)

Keira Soleore said...

Virginia, you've mastered the art of chook-nabbing. Congrats.

Aha! AC, I've been waiting for your Turkey posts and all the cool stuff we get to experience through your eyes. So, thank you, and keep 'em coming. :)

The early Christians and minorities in other cultures have always survived through holing up underground. Hence the name "underground movement" that came up during revolutions.

My ideal is the ocean, beach, and sun. I would die underground.

anne said...

What a great experience you had. I know that living underground would be impossible for me. The dark, dampness would be impossible. I need sunlight and soothing warmth as well as open areas. I did manage the Carlsbad Caverns.

Susan Sey said...

Oh, AC, I do envy your travels!

But living several stories underground? Oh my. I get claustrophobic in crowded elevators. I don't know if I could handle knowing I was walking around under several tons of rock & dirt. I have this thing about the sun--I like to see it. Every day. I like to wake up when it's up & go to sleep when it's down & I might go nutty (nuttier) if I didn't have those kinds of cues.

It's amazing how adaptable people are, though. They can live nearly anywhere.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Wow Cindy!! What a fantastic trip!! You always have such great stories to tell us when you get home. And I had no idea this area or caves even existed. And since it involves Romans, I'll bet our Joanie is taking notes....hmmm do we see a cave dwelling hero or heroine in a future book??

As for me, I'd only make it to the first level. Claustrophobia would probably keep me from going further! Sigh...

Those are fantastic pictures! And it goes to show how adaptive humans can be when the survival instict is involved, doesn't it?

Beth said...

Wow, what a fascinating post, AC!

There's no way I could live underground. There's a TV show (I have no idea what it's called) where a man explores all of these different underground tunnels. I can't breathe just watching it *g*

Nathalie said...

It was an interesting story.

I once went to visit a national park nearby, and thought it will be a bore as I am not a fan of long walks, but the beauty of nature the little bits of history surprised me.

So I guess we should always keep an open mind when we discover something new!

Lily said...

Living underground would scare me, I would clearly be afraid of landslides and suffocation!

I think I would prefer the fresh air of the mounatins.

Anna Campbell said...

Virginia, he likes you!

AC, what a fascinating post! Thank you so much for sharing a small part of your trip with us (hint, hint, we want MORE!). I'd love to go to Turkey. It's definitely on my list! It's been such a crossroads for different cultures and civilizations in its time, hasn't it? I must say I find the whole grand sergaglio thing utterly fascinating so I think I could spend days in Istanbul checking it out. Did a bit of Byzantine history when I did medieval at uni and the fascination has endured.

No, I don't think I could live underground! Well, I suppose I could if I had to, but not by choice. I've only ever been to one cave - a big one in the Jenolan Cave system in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney. Was seriously creeped out by it! I know, I'm a wimp.

Anna Campbell said...

P226, I love it when you write about music! That was fascinating!

Actually I find a lot of stuff I see in real life isn't what I expect. With paintings, for example, there's the scale and the texture and the true colours that you don't get in reproductions.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Everyone,
I'm BAACK! ACK! I mailed 3 holiday parcels and the postage was almost as much as the gifts! Next year I'm doing GIFT CARDS for sure! :-P


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

You received two of the BEST holiday gifts EVER! Yes, I'm a wee bit disappointed that neither of your grandsons held out until my bday, but Jake ALMOST made it! He was born on the birthday of my favorite composer, Beethoven, so perhaps he will be musical when he is older. :-)

I'll be sure to check out the Jenolen Caves next time I'm DownUnder (I hope in the not too distant future). I did forget to mention that I went into a salt mine in Hallstat Austria that had been used since prehistoric times. That one was a blast because we rode in on a little train and got to slide down this wooden bannister. Oh, and we all got to dress up in miner's coveralls. Lots of fun!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

LOL Kate on the flakes but no snow! We have plenty of those kinds of flakes around here too! Can't wait for Feb. 3rd!

Nancy, I LURVED the Moria sequence in the Fellowship film also! That's exactly the way I'd pictured it... vast, vaulted caverns, NOT the cramped spaces like the underground cities.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

You are not the only person who gave me a funny look when I said I was going to Turkey. A lot of folks don't realize the history and culture all over that country, and wonderfully people too! As Fo says, so many civilizations had root there, and I know you and any of our other history buffs here in the Lair would LURVE many of the sights.

As for the underground cities, I'm not sure about the sanitation (can't believe I didn't ask), but the fresh water came from a series of cisterns. Some of these early Christians were fantastic engineers who thought of so many things in creating these cities. I'll bet they were a lot more comfortable to live in that most of us imagine.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I'm with you about getting nervous being under all those tons of rock and dirt, esp. since Turkey is very earthquake prone! YIKES!

At the various sites, our guide would mention the 3 things that destroyed these fabulous cities (and Ephesus had a population of 250,000 in its heyday): fire, earthquake, and enemies.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

You need to elaborate about Carlsbad! I understand it is a haven for bats, much like the cavern Louisa described.

Keira, THANX for the explanation of "underground movement." Another interesting factoid we learned today in the Lair!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Yes Suz,
Our Joanie T. would be in Roman Ruin Heaven in Turkey! They were at Istanbul, Troy, Ephesus, Pergamon, Pamukkale, and Cappadocia. I even saw a Roman column in Ankara. I think the only place I didn't see anything Roman on this trip was in Konya, and we were only there overnight and stayed in the modern part of the city, directly across the street from a new three story mall. :-)

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Nathalie said: "So I guess we should always keep an open mind when we discover something new!"

That definitely sums up my attitude about travel. Every place has something interesting if you just look for it.

Thanx a bunch everyone for taking my little excursion underground! I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed posting about it. I had such a fantastic time on this trip that it won't take much for me to post about more of my adventures.

Right now, I must run since my CP Cathy and BFF Shirl are taking me out to dinner and the theater for my bday.

THANX AGAIN and be sure to check back for our day 7 winner!


Joan said...

Bday!!!! Happy Birthday AC!!!!

Funny how that 29th birthday sneaks up on you, isn't it ;-)

I could not live underground. Like Susan, I enjoy the blue skies and the sunshine.

As to surprises? When RWA was in Reno, my CP and I rented a car and drove up into the Sierra Nevada toward Tahoe.

The trip up was kind of bleh....stark, sand colored rocks, scrub. But when we got to the lake...Oh. My.

It rivaled some of Ireland's lakes and that's saying a LOT coming from me. I felt as if I truly could touch heaven from there.

All that idyllic reverie was broken by a rare snarling Tahoe squirrel..but that's another story.

Joan said...

So much in music is more than meets the ear.

EXACTLY, p226!!! That's what I tell Suz when I sing

"Spiderpig, Spiderpig, does whatever a Spiderpig does..."

She likes when I sing :-)

Joan said...

Our Joanie T. would be in Roman Ruin Heaven in Turkey!

Well, they DID conquer a world.....

so hopefully they will add the publishing world too!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Thanx Joanie!

*AHEM* Actually yer olde Aunty is 39... AGAIN! I figure find an age you like and STICK WITH IT!

Yes, Lake Tahoe is truly one of the natural wonders of the world! I'll never forget the first time I saw it, on my honeymoon mumblemumble years ago. I couldn't believe that color was real!

Gotta watch out for those terrorist squirrels though! Luckily my Pug-Wawa is ever vigilant to protect me, and her food dish!

Thanx again for all the bday wishes everyone!