Hasankeyf (Kurmanji Kurdish: Heskîf, Arabic:حصن كيفا, Armenian: Հարսնքվ, Greek: Κιφας, Latin: Cepha, Syriac: ܟܐܦܐ) is a 12,000 year old city which is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world. Much of the city and its archeological sites are at risk of being flooded with the completion of the Ilisu Dam.
Hasankeyf is rich in history throughout the ages and aside from the sites below, thousands of caves exist in the cliffs that surround the city. Many of the caves are multi-storied and have their own water supply. Churches and mosques were also carved into the cliffs and numerous ancient cemeteries exist throughout the area.
The current population of Hasankeyf is predominantly Kurdish. Until the 1980s, Assyrians/Syriacs and Arab Christian families lived in the cave houses by the river.
The nation has been accused of breaking its agreement to ensure a flow of 500 cubic metres per second of the Euphrates flows through to Syria.
Hasankeyf, an ancient town in Turkey’s south-eastern province of Batman (Êlih) – with a history of 12,000 years of human settlement – was engulfed in 2019 by the reservoir of a controversial hydroelectric dam project.
In past years, the ancient city of Hasankeyf attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, offering them the chance to explore the traces of more than 20 civilizations that contributed to the city’s cultural heritage. Hasankeyf – with a history spanning 12,000 years – held a special appeal to visitors from the region as well as to those from western Turkey and every corner of the globe, and this enabled local residents not only to provide for their families but also to share their specialized knowledge of this historic landscape.
“We are the people of Mesopotamia, one of the most remarkable areas of the world, known as the cradle of civilization. We are the people of Hasankeyf in Turkey and of the Marshes in Iraq. We are connected and combined by the Tigris River. The Tigris is our common root, our common lifeline and our common future.”
Access to the 12,000-year-old settlement of Hasankeyf is now only possible with a special permit. The cultural site in Northern Kurdistan is flooded by the Ilisu dam on the Tigris. With it a unique history is lost.