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Archaeologists discover secret tunnel in ancient Hittite castle

The Week logo The Week 26-10-2015 Jeva Lange

The excavation of a mountain castle in central Turkey has revealed a secret tunnel, built by the Hittites around 4,000 years ago. Geval Castle, on Takkel Mountain in Central Anatolia, sits over 5,500 feet above sea level and once offered a strategic 360-degree vantage point for a population that regularly faced assaults from the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Thracians throughout their history. As a result, Hittites were master underground builders, although the exciting discoveries at Takkel Mountain appear to be the first of their kind.

Takkel Mountain in Central Anatolia, Turkey © Twitter/Hurriyet Daily News Takkel Mountain in Central Anatolia, Turkey

"We have discovered secret tunnels in the castle. We have cleaned there and revealed a [328-foot to 492-foot] part of the tunnel. We believe that it is almost [984 feet long]. This tunnel becomes integrated with the cistern […] This tunnel is connected to the cistern through a secret way," Necmettin Erbakan University History of Arts Prof. Ahmet Çaycı told Hurriyet Daily News.

Gevale Castle has many such cisterns, which were used to supply water to the fortress. Researchers can make assumptions about the population of the area by measuring the sizes of the cisterns and calculating how many people lived at the castle based on the available water supply. However, the tunnel notably established a connection with the outside world. "It is closed with a vault that looks like part of the land," Çaycı said. "But when you go deeper, you understand that it is a tunnel."

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