Legacy of Erased
The ancient city of Hasankeyf sits along the banks of the Tigris River in southeastern Turkey. Continuously inhabited for over 12,000 years, it is one of the oldest settlements in the world and well-known for its wealth of ancient ruins and artifacts. However, the city and its archaeological sites have been submerged and erased forever due to the completion of the Ilısu Dam.
The dam, approved by the Turkish government in 1997 to reduce the country’s dependency on energy imports and provide jobs in its impoverished southeast region, and also, the dam forms a key part of Turkey’s Southeastern Anatolia Project, will uproot nearly 80,000 people from 199 villages and the government has built the dam as a vital development project — part of a larger network of dams.
And the inhabitants of this legacy of erased were relocated and placed in new, modern-looking housing suburbs, dubbed “New Hasankeyf”. Locals say the dam will destroy the tourism sector, erase childhood memories, cover grazing lands, and destroy ancestral graveyards.
The dam is also a source of regional tension, too. Turkey’s construction of dams and irrigation projects have reduced the flow of water in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to Iraq and Syria, its downstream neighbors, causing hardship and sparking fears of greater conflict.
“Now, we’re watching the erased.”