Moving an Ancient Town to Higher Ground

The town of Hasankeyf, Turkey, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world, with evidence of people living there as far back as 12,000 years ago. In a matter of months, most of the ancient town will be abandoned—flooded by a reservoir rising behind the Ilisu Dam, one of Turkey’s newest and largest hydroelectric projects. The controversial project will affect 199 upstream settlements along the Tigris River, as the water level rises up to 60 meters. Despite objections from international and local groups over the displacement of thousands, the loss of archaeological sites, interference with nomadic groups, environmental impact, and water-sharing issues with downstream Iraq, Turkish authorities quietly began filling the reservoir this summer. Residents of Hasankeyf were provided with a “new” town to move to—700 new houses and supporting buildings built three kilometers up the hill from the old town. Some of the centuries-old monuments and mosques from the old town were relocated to the new town as well. The Turkish government has given residents until today to evacuate.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Ezra Acayan / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Giant Boar, Ice Music, Patagonian Glacier

    A bull-taming festival in India, icy purification in Tokyo, locusts in Ethiopia, illuminated hats in Switzerland, a coming-of-age ceremony in Tokyo, bushfires in Australia, and much more.

  • Franck Fife / AFP / Getty

    Photos From the 2020 Dakar Rally

    Images of some of the 560 competitors taking part in a 12-day, 4,660-mile (7,500-kilometer) off-roading adventure held entirely in Saudi Arabia this year.

  • © Greg Lecoeur / Ocean Art

    Winners of the 2019 Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest

    Some of the top images from the 16 categories of underwater photography in this year’s competition.

  • Ezra Acayan / Getty

    Photos of the Eruption of Taal Volcano

    Hundreds of thousands of residents within a 10-mile radius of the volcano are now being evacuated.