The Hasankef Dam on the Tigris River halted

The Biblical Archaeology Review Daily News for June 26, 2009, reports a halt in the building of the dam on the Tigris River in southeastern Turkey. BAR calls attention to an report by the BBC about the halting of the project. Note this portion of the report:

Insurers have suspended their support for a controversial dam project in southeastern Turkey amid concern about its environmental and cultural impact.Export credit insurers in Austria, Germany and Switzerland said on Tuesday they had told suppliers to suspend work on the Ilisu dam on the Tigris river.

They are giving Ankara 180 days to meet standards set by the World Bank. The ancient Hasankeyf fortress is in the area that would be flooded and more than 50,000 people would have to move.

The hydroelectric project near Turkey’s borders with Syria and Iraq is part of a scheme to develop the mainly Kurdish region, which has suffered for decades from poverty, neglect and conflict.

Environmentalists say the dam would destroy archaeological treasures, including Roman remains. The dam consortium plans to create a culture park on the edge of the reservoir and transfer key monuments from Hasankeyf there.

The full (brief) report may be read here. See information about the history of the site here.

I had the opportunity to visit this area in June, 2007. This is one of the most fascinating places I have visited. The site of ancient Nineveh is less than 125 miles south of Hasankef on the Tigris.

Tigris River at Hasankief. Ruins of Roman bridge. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tigris River at Hasankef. Note ruins of Roman bridge. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Tigris River formed the eastern border of Mesopotamia, the land between the rivers (Tigris and Euphrates). It is mentioned by name only twice in the Bible.

  • The Tigris was the third of the rivers flowing from the Garden of Eden. It is said to be east of Assyria (Genesis 2:14). Was this in the north near the source of the river in the mountains of Ararat? Or was it in the south near the Persian Gulf? I don’t know.
  • The prophet Daniel was by the bank of the great river, the Tigris (Daniel 10:4). This would have been further south in present Iraq.

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