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

  • Don Emmert / AFP / Getty

    New Jersey: Images of the Garden State

    A few glimpses of the landscape of New Jersey, and some of the animals and people calling it home

  • John Thys / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Stari Most, Flaming Jet, Hug Kit

    An open-air school in Kashmir, a Comic-Con blood drive in California, a successful Mars-rover launch, a sparsely attended Hajj in Saudi Arabia, a farewell to the late U.S. Representative John Lewis, and much more.

  • Callaghan O'Hare / Reuters

    Inside a Houston Hospital During a Coronavirus Surge

    Images from Houston’s United Memorial Medical Center, documenting the work being done by medical workers under stressful and challenging circumstances

  • NASA / JPL-Caltech

    NASA Prepares to Launch the Mars Rover Perseverance

    A look at some of the assembly and testing work involved in the Mars 2020 mission over the past few years