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10 AMAZING Ancient Ceremonial Caves & Settlements

10 amazing caves created for human settlement and religious sites for worship

1 – Mesa Verde Cliff Palace – USA

Image Credit : WikiPedia

Image Credit : WikiPedia

Mesa Verde is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Montezuma County, Colorado, United States and is the largest archaeological preserve in the United States. The Anasazi (Ancient Pueblo peoples) inhabited Mesa Verde between 600 to 1300 AD, though there is evidence they left before the start of the 15th century. In the late 1190s they began to build the cliff dwellings for which Mesa Verde is famous, in particular the Cliff Palace.

Tree ring dating indicates that construction and refurbishing of Cliff Palace was continuous from c. 1190 AD through c. 1260 AD, although the major portion of the building was done within a twenty-year time span. The Ancestral Pueblo that constructed this cliff dwelling and the others like it at Mesa Verde were driven to these defensible positions by “increasing competition amidst changing climatic conditions.” Cliff Palace was abandoned by 1300.


2 – Ellora Caves – India

Image Credit : WikiPedia

Image Credit : WikiPedia

Ellora, is an archaeological site, 29 km (18 mi) North-West of the city of Aurangabad in the Indian state of Maharashtra built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty. Well known for its monumental caves, Ellora is a World Heritage Site and represents the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture.

The 34 “caves” are actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills. Buddhist, Hindu and Jain rock-cut temples and viharas and mathas were built between the 5th century and 10th century.


3 – Guyaju – China

Image Credit : WikiPedia

Image Credit : WikiPedia

Guyaju is a cave complex located 92 kilometers from Beijing in the Yanqing County, overlooking the town of Zhangshanying. The complex comprises of 147 hollowed stone rooms along a 10 meter wide cliff, covering an area of of 100,000 square metres.

There is no uniform between each of the rooms, the largest of which is two stories with side rooms. All the chamber residences are equiped with doors, stone beds, stone shelves, windows and cooking areas. The origin of Guyaju is still a mystery even to this day. No one knows who, how and when it was built.


4 – Maijishan Grottoes – China

Image Credit : WikiPedia

Image Credit : WikiPedia

The Maijishan Grottoes are a series of 194 caves cut in the side of the hill of Majishan in Tianshui, Gansu Province, northwest China. This example of rock cut architecture contains over 7,200 Buddhist sculptures and over 1,000 square meters of murals. Construction began in the Later Qin era (384-417 AD).

They were first properly explored in 1952-53 by a team of Chinese archaeologists from Beijing,


5 – Derinkuyu – Turkey

Image Credit :  Başak Ekinci

Image Credit : Başak Ekinci

The Derinkuyu underground city is an ancient multi-level underground city in the Derinkuyu district in Nevşehir Province, Turkey. Extending to a depth of approximately 60 m, it was large enough to shelter approximately 20,000 people together with their livestock and food stores.

It is the largest excavated underground city in Turkey and is one of several underground complexes found across Cappadocia. The city at Derinkuyu was fully formed in the Byzantine era, when it was heavily used as protection from Muslim Arabs during the Arab–Byzantine wars (780-1180 AD).


6 – Bandiagara Escarpment – Mali

Image Credit : WikiPedia

Image Credit : WikiPedia

The Bandiagara Escarpment is an escarpment in the Dogon country of Mali containing hundreds of stuctures and caverns built into the cliff face. The sandstone cliff rises about 500 meters above the lower sandy flats to the south. The area of the escarpment is inhabited today by the Dogon people who arrived in the 14th century.

Before the Dogon, the escarpment was inhabited by the Tellem and Toloy peoples, an ethnic group later pushed out. The Tellem legacy is evident in the caves they carved into the cliffs so that they could bury their dead high up, far from the frequent flash floods of the area.


7 – Göreme – Turkey

Image Credit : WikiPedia

Image Credit : WikiPedia

Göreme, located among the “fairy chimney” rock formations, is a town in Cappadocia, a historical region of Turkey. It is in the Nevşehir Province in Central Anatolia and has a population of around 2,500 people.

The location of Göreme was first settled back in the Roman period. Christianity was then the prevailing religion in the region, which is evident from many rock churches that can still be seen today.


8 – Ajanta Caves – India

Image Credit : WikiPedia

Image Credit : WikiPedia

The Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India are about 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BC to about 480 or 650 AD.

The caves include paintings and sculptures described by the government Archaeological Survey of India as “the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly painting”, which are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, with figures of the Buddha and depictions of the Jataka tales.


9 – Badami cave temples – India

Image Credit : WikiPedia

Image Credit : WikiPedia

The Badami cave temples are a complex of temples located at Badami, a town in the Bagalkot District in the north part of Karnataka, India. The Badami cave temples are composed of four caves, all carved out of the soft Badami sandstone on a hill cliff in the late 6th to 7th centuries.

The temple caves represent different religious sects. Among them, two (cave 2 and 3) are dedicated to god Vishnu, one to god Shiva (cave 1) and the fourth (cave 4) is a Jain temple.


10 – Otuzco Caves – Peru

Image Credit : WikiPedia

Image Credit : WikiPedia

Otuzco “The windows of Otuzco” is a Peruvian archaeological site located in the district of Baños del Inca , 8 km northwest of the city of Cajamarca comprising of a necropolis of burial chambers.

The site was carved out of volcanic rock with 337 chambers 8-10 meters deep, 50-60 cm high and rectangular or quadrangular shaped. The date of its construction is uncertain, with only some datable ceramic pottery dating from 1400 B.C, but this is suggestive that the ancient site pre-dates the Cajamarca culture (500-1450 AD).

Contributing Source : WikiPedia

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