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ARCHAEOLOGY >‘New Hasankeyf’s’ museum ready to open

BATMAN – Anadolu Agency

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The construction of a museum and an amphitheater has been finished at a new settlement established for Hasankeyf, which is to be flooded by the Ilısu Dam, a project that NGOs fear will displace thousands and obscure Hasankeyf’s unique ancient history.

The new settlement, which has been set up to save a few of Hasankeyf’s historical sites from flooding, is located on the outskirts of the Batı Raman Mountains, north of Hasankeyf’s current location where projects undertaken by the General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works (DSI) and Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation Board are finally coming to fruition. 

In the projects’ scope, a three-floor Hasankeyf Museum with 2,500 square-meters of closed area and 5,000 square-meters of open area and an amphitheater have been built in the field named Cultural Park. The artifacts that shed light on Hasankeyf’s history will be displayed at the museum. 

Meanwhile, the construction of a pedestrian bridge connecting moved historical sites is in its final phase. West of this bridge will be the İmam Abdullah Tomb, a historic bath and Zeynel Bey Tomb, while east of the bridge will be the El Rizk, Koç, Sultan Süleyman and Kızlar mosques and the castle’s gate. 

Hasankeyf district governor Bülent Baygüven said their goal was to “fill the gaps at Hasankeyf” and turn the new settlement into a modern tourism center without damaging Hasankeyf’s historical foundation. 

While the settlement’s government building and district police department were currently up and running, Baygüven said, “some public housing is still under construction.” Though students are still attending Hasankeyf’s middle school, a new high school has been set up at the new settlement, according to Baygüven.

He continued: “The hospital will be finished very soon. The Cultural Park, District Gendarmerie Command, District Food, Agriculture and Livestock buildings are under construction, too. When the citizens arrive here, houses will be built and this [new settlement] will be a complete district.”

Hasankeyf and the Ilısu Dam

The ancient, 12,000-year-old town of Hasankeyf is located on the banks of the Tigris River in southeastern Turkey, featuring Neolithic caves, Roman ruins and medieval monuments. 

Eighty percent of Hasankeyf will be flooded due to the controversial Ilısu Dam, which has been the subject of controversy since 2006 when its first foundational stone was placed. Due to the highly impactful nature of the dam, European creditors pulled their investment support for the dam in 2008, postponing its construction for 2 years.

Set to become Turkey’s fourth hydroelectric power plant if completed, the dam is part of the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), which aims to create sustainable development for people living in Turkey’s southeast through the construction of dams and hydroelectric plants. 

Europa Nostra, a European heritage organization, and the European Investment Bank Institute announced on Dec. 10 that Hasankeyf and its surroundings were among the heritage sites shortlisted on its “The Seven Most Endangered” program for 2016.

December/31/2015

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