Photo courtesy of Robert G. Ousterhout

The distorted, volcanic landscape of Cappadocia, in central Turkey, was home to Byzantine settlers, mainly from the ninth to eleventh centuries, who cut elaborate dwellings and churches into the region’s soft tufa. Among Cappadocia’s strangely beautiful geologic formations are “fairy chimneys” (see this issue’s cover); these capped pillars were formed as soft volcanic ash was carried away by wind and water erosion, leaving harder sections of nonvolcanic rock resting on top.