The Cappadocian region has been inhabited since prehistoric times, with the best examples of it having been unearthed at Köşk Höyük in Niğde, Aşıklı Höyük in Aksaray as well as the Civelek Cave in Nevşehir. During the Middle Bronze Age Cappadocia came under the influence of Assyrian civilization due to extensive trade. During this period writing was introduced, too. Researchers have found hoards of “Cappadocian tablets” – clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform writing – whose texts speak of tax regulation, interest rates, marriage contracts, trade disputes and much else besides. The Hattis, Hittites, Phrygians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and Ottomans were all enchanted by the allure of Cappadocia and left the imprints of their presence here.
Due to its location Cappadocia has been a critical and strategic region throughout the years. Important trade routes, including the illustrious Silk Road, traversed it both east and west and north and south. As a result of this heavy traffic, the region has been a complex web of historical and cultural influences, a region where different faiths and philosophies have met and influenced one another. Cappadocia’s trade and resources were tempting and so the region was frequently invaded, raided and looted.
To protect themselves from such incursions, the locals took to living in the region’s caves and grottos whose entrances could be concealed so as not to be noticed by trouble-making outsiders. Since it might be necessary to lie low for extended periods of time, these troglodytic dwellings eventually became subterranean cities that included sources of water, places to store food and had wineries and even temples. Some of these subterranean cities date back to pre-Christian era.