The achievements of ancient cultures tend to be woefully unappreciated -- we think of the people as loincloth-wearing savages, and when we're proven wrong by some impressive feat of engineering, we just make a bunch of documentaries about aliens. But the engineers of times past were nothing to sneer at, and some of their accomplishments make ours seem slightly embarrassing.
5 Derinkuyu's Massive, Ancient Underground City
Derinkuyu's underground city was discovered in the 1960s in Turkey, when a modern house above ground was being renovated. Much to the relief of everyone present, the 18-story underground city was abandoned and not swarming with mole people.
"Do you want to flood it again, just to be sure?"
Hidden for centuries right under everyone's noses, Derinkuyu is just the largest of hundreds of underground complexes built by we're-not-sure-who-exactly around the eighth century B.C. To understand just what's so phenomenal about this feat of engineering, imagine someone handing you a hammer and chisel and telling you to go dig out a system of underground chambers capable of sustaining 20,000 people. And not one of those fancy modern chisels, either -- we're talking about something dug with whatever excavating tools they had 2,800 years ago.
Dutch Art Institute
"Get the Jim-digger. He still has some fingernails."
The city was probably used as a giant bunker to protect its inhabitants from either war or natural disaster, but its architects were clearly determined to make it the most comfortable doomsday bunker ever. It had access to fresh flowing water -- the wells were not connected with the surface to prevent poisoning by crafty land dwellers. It also has individual quarters, shops, communal rooms, tombs, arsenals, livestock, and escape routes. There's even a school, complete with a study room.
The Straits Times
And doodles of boobs on the desks of the study room.
Even now, the site hasn't been fully excavated, so we haven't found the golf course or the football stadium yet.