Uniting hundreds or even thousands of persons into this kind of “beehive” must have required much more rigorous attention to daily affairs than in any other form of settlement. Life was based on decisive organization and attentive discipline. If it had been otherwise, surviving underground would not have been possible. Here, too, we have in these settlements everything that is required for daily life, such as wells and cisterns for water supply, drains and waste removal systems, public and private spaces, places of worship and work, and shelter for the animals. Most important are ventilation systems, generally air shafts.He cites the ancient Greek historian Xenophon's account of the return march of the Ten Thousand after the battle of Cunaxa (401 BC), Xenophon says that near a zone where there were fountains there was an underground village:
The houses were underground structures with an aperture like the mouth of a well by which to enter, but they were broad and spacious below. The entrance for the beasts of burden was dug out, but the human occupants descended by a ladder. In these dwellings were to be found goats and sheep and cattle, and cocks and hens, with their various progeny. The flocks and herds were all reared under cover upon green food (...) when Cheirisophus and Xenophon had greeted one another like bosom friends, they interrogated the headman in common by means of the Persian-speaking interpreter. 'What was the country?' they asked: he replied, 'Armenia'." (Xenophon, Anabasis, Book IV, 5, 25-26 and 34, translation by H. G. Dakyns)
...where Cimmerian people have their homes—their realm and city/ shrouded in mist and cloud. The eye of the sun can never/ flash his rays through the dark and bring them light/... (trans. Robert Fagles)They lived in an underground city in the Flegrean Fields and sought sooth from an oracle, a Sibyl, a sorority sister of the Cumaean Sibyl just a short hike up the road. There were many Sibyls in the ancient world, but the Cimmerian Sibyl was said to be venerated by the pre-Hellenic native populations. (The image, right, is The Cimmerian Sibyl by 'il Guercino' (alias G. F. Barbieri, 1591-1666). After Homer, Greek historians repeated the story. Strabo [64 BC-24 AD], in describing for Agrippa the geography and customs of the Campania, writes in Book 5 of his Geography (Loeb Classical Library edition, 1923):
Again, Ephorus, [reference to earlier historian, Ephorus of Cyme, 400-330 BC] in the passage where he claims the locality in question for the Cimmerians, says: They live in underground houses, which they call "argillae," and it is through tunnels that they visit one another, back and forth, and also admit strangers to the oracle, which is situated far beneath the earth; and they live on what they get from mining, and from those who consult the oracle, and from the king of the country, who has appointed them fixed allowances; and those who live about the oracle have an ancestral custom, that no one should see the sun, but should go outside the caverns only during the night; and it is for this reason that the poet speaks of them as follows: "And never does the shining sun look upon them"; but later on the Cimmerians were destroyed by a certain king, because the response of the oracle did not turn out in his favour; the seat of the oracle, however, still endures...So we see that Strabo was citing Ephorus who was probably citing Homer (or whoever the many Homers were) who was/were peddling oral history from the distant past. The Cimmerians were destroyed, they say, but the myth has endured. (There is another entry on the Cimmerians, here.) Even the great archaeologist, Amedeo Maiuri (who uncovered the grotto of the Cumaean Sybl) makes constant reference to them, wandering around the Flegrean Fields, essentially muttering to himself, "C'mon, it's gotta be here somewhere." Maybe not. The problem is that there really was an historic people called the "Cimmerians"; however, they were equestrian nomads from the region north of the Caucasus in the 7th century BC. (There is no unanimity of opinion on that, but they weren't from Italy!) That is reasonably close to the area where all those underground settlements of Anatolia are, so maybe...I don't know...someone mushed up his mythology in the first millennium BC? Is the similarity between Cimmerian and Sumerian just a coincidence? Sumer was an ancient culture of Mesapotamia (modern Iraq, roughly) possibly settled as early as 5000 BC. Even for Homer, that's ancient history. Did Sumerians build underground settlements? No. They used clay masonry to create complex forms of stacked mud brick to build, for example, those stepped pyramids on the surface, called ziggurats, but as far as I know, there was no underground stuff. That's too bad because I thought I had a lead there, something that entailed Greek oral history confusing Mesapotamia with Naples. No particular point here, sorry, just that there cannot reasonably have been two ancient peoples with the same name, one group riding horses around the Black Sea and the other digging underground settlements in Naples (before there was a Naples, of course). I'm open for suggestions.