Ancient Turkish Town to Vanish Under Floodwaters

Within the next few years, the center of Hasankeyf is set to vanish forever.Within the next few years, the center of Hasankeyf is set to vanish forever.

The construction of the controversial Ilisu Dam poses a serious threat to Hasankeyf whose residents will have to soon move to an upper part of the region.

At first glance, all is normal in the Turkish town of Hasankeyf that has seen the Romans, Byzantines, Turkic tribes and Ottomans leave their mark here in over 10,000 years of human settlement, reported.

Tigris River languidly flows through the historic center of the town in southeast Turkey’s Batman Province, souvenir sellers offer their wares to a handful of tourists and the famous vista of minarets, citadel and ruins of a bridge take your breath away.

But within the next few years, this scene is likely to be no more, with the center of Hasankeyf set to vanish forever under the floodwaters from the Ilisu Dam project.

Turkish officials argue that the dam’s hydroelectric power station will provide electricity and irrigation essential to the development of the Kurdish-dominated southeast. The historic edifices will be moved in a hugely ambitious program that parallels with the shifting of key archeological sites from the Pharaonic era in Upper Egypt, when the Aswan Dam was built in the 1960s.

But some local residents fear the inundation of Hasankeyf will wreak untold damage on the region that will not be avoided purely by shifting the monuments to new areas.

“There is no going back,” Arif Ayhan, a member of the Association for Trade and Tourism in Hasankeyf, said.

“The people could have been listened to, at least, and not ignored,” he added. Bazaar trader Mehmet Emin Aydin said, “We will try to fight as long as we can, so that the beauty and history of this city will not be destroyed.”

With the construction of the dam and hydroelectric plant almost complete, the flooding process will begin on Dec. 31 to create the lake that will eventually submerge Hasankeyf.


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