We are pupils of the animals in the most important things: the spider for spinning and mending, the swallow for building, and the songsters, swan and nightingale, for singing, by way of imitation. —Democritus, Fragment 154
I decided to go to Cappadocia after seeing an old illustration of one of the underground cities. The drawing, just a rough sketch, showed tiny people moving through a honeycomb of underground caverns, passageways, and winding staircases. The honeycombed cities, I read, had been hollowed from the region’s soft volcanic soil during the early Bronze Age. Cappadocia had been cobwebbed by trade routes in those days and was constantly under attack; the underground cities served as fortification from invaders. There were hundreds of them, one beneath nearly every modern settlement in the region, and some were as deep as ten levels, with space for thousands of people. What made me curious was that the ancient inhabitants were believed to have lived underground for months at a time.