By J. Eric Cooper, Michael J. Decker (auth.)
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Additional resources for Life and Society in Byzantine Cappadocia
Yet the reality was that most so-called cities were anything but that, and the lists in this regard were effectively an accounting manoeuvre. Here one example will suffice: the dusty little ‘one-horse’ way station of Sasima (today Hasanköy). It was a minor stop on the route from Ankyra to Isauria, yet was a bishopric in the fourth century when it was feuded over by St Basil and Anthimos, the bishop of Tyana who claimed the ‘city’ lay within the jurisdiction of the newly established province of Cappadocia Secunda.
3 illustrates, in situ millstone doors secure nearly every tunnel, and escape ways are associated with each unity. However, special indentations designed for the millstone doors are found at every tunnel entryway, indicating that several doors have disappeared over the centuries (a common phenomenon in the region). The arrangement of millstone doors not only protected against the outside, but also effected compartmentalisation: each unity could be sealed off from its partner in the event of an enemy breaching one portion of the system.
The largest such rock-cut settlements were subterranean towns, defined here as likely containing at least 1000 people. ‘Town’ is a more appropriate term for these large subterranean urban centres than city because the latter, the ancient and medieval Greek polis, referred to settlements that maintained official government administrative functions or, from Late Antiquity at least, hosted a bishop. To date there is no evidence that any of the 16 underground towns known from archaeology had either: none appear in the order of bishops in Cappadocia and Armenia, nor do they appear in the fifth-century city list of Hesychios of Alexandria, nor that of the seventh-century George of Cyprus (see below).