The 12,000-year-old ancient town of Hasankeyf in Batman Province of Turkey is one of the oldest towns in the world. Sadly, the town that used to sit on the banks of River Tigris, is now a thing of the past, as water from the controversial dam project engulfed it all. By Kumar Shree
Hasankeyf, which was home to thousands of caves, churches and tombs, was one of the oldest inhabited settlements on Earth. Thanks to the controversial Ilisu dam project, the town now rests under the water released from it.
The Turkish government approved the Ilisu Dam project way back in 1997. The idea was to generate electricity by harnessing the water energy. Little did anyone know that the enormous amount of ecological and environmental cost they were inviting. The dam has displaced 80,000 people from 199 villages.
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The dam, which is an imperative part of Turkey’s Southeastern Anatolia Project, started storing water from July 2019. This led to rising water levels around the town at an alarming rate. The water first rose to 15m and then kept rising above at a frightening rate of 15cm per day.
The residents of the town have moved, with heavy hearts, to the new town called Yeni Hasankeyf, which is set on a nearby hill. While the entire town now rests under the water, one can still see part of the stone pillars from an ancient bridge in Hasankeyf.