Turkish officials will flood a 12,000 year old town next month to make way for a dam project to power the region.
Hasankeyf, possibly one of the oldest sites of human settlement houses the remnants of a 12th Century bridge, a 15th Century pillar tomb, two dilapidated mosques and hundreds of natural mountain caves.
It is also home to thousands of residents.
The caves in the ancient city have survived as homes since the Neolithic era with some locals still using them as dwellings today.
Marks have been left on the town by all civillisations that ruled the region, including the Mesopotamians, Romans and Ottomans.
The decision, confirmed by the regional governor, Hulusi Sahin, at a meeting on Saturday, ignores decades’ long resistance from campaigners and residents.
People can be seen cooling off in a cafe on the shores of the Tigris river which runs through the city of Hassankeyf (pictured). The settlement was a former trading post along the Silk Road and has seen Romans, Byzantines, Turkic tribes and Ottomans leave their mark
The shrine of Imam Abdullah Zawiya (pictured left in the distance) can be seen during the transportation process to ensure it isn’t damaged when Turkish officials flood the town of Hasankeyf in Batman, Turkey. The cylindrical Zeynel Bey Tomb (pictured front right) was also relocated to a new site to prevent any flood damage
The Ulu mosque and cemetery sit over the cliffs in Hasankeyf, Turkey. The flooding from the dam project will displace around 50,000 people, mostly Kurds, from the region in south east Turkey
The historical caves overlooking the Hasankeyf valley (pictured above) are still used as dwellings today and a man can be seen above peering over his fence. The caves were originally used as homes in the Neolithic era
The World Monuments Fund listed the town as an endangered site in 2008 though it hasn’t stopped the Southeastern Anatolian Project, the Turkish energy plan, from going ahead. Above is the remnant of a bridge that will be submerged once the dam plan goes ahead
He said the site will be cordoned off on 8 October, leaving residents just over a month to relocate before the flooding starts.
‘Entry and exit will not be allowed,’ Sahin said.
‘Time is running out, we all have our duties.’
The town will be submerged as part of the Ilisu Dam project which, according to Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, will provide power to the region and have several economic and environmental benefits.
The dam was first dreamt up as a solution to the area’s need for power and to irrigate the surrounding agricultural land in the 1950s but failed to gain traction until 2006.
The dam and accompanying power plant will be capable of producing the same amount of electricity as a small nuclear plant.
The dam and accompanying power plant will be able to generate 4,200 gigawatts of electricity each year which is similar to a small power plant
An aerial view of the Hasankeyf city and the tall citadel in the centre of the photograph. Once the water has inundated the land, the only visible sight of the ancient city will be the tall citadel
People can be seen here sitting on chairs in the Tigris which runs through the historical city of Hasankeyf. The inauguration of Turkey’s controversial Ilisu dam on the Tigris River will also compound water shortages in neighbouring Iraq
Though the government has built a new town with 710 houses for those displaced, residents aren’t happy about the forced relocation.
Local resident, Firat Argun, told CBSNews that his family has lived in the area for 300 years.
‘We were living with hope but we lost that now. They gave us three to five months,’ he said.
‘I need to start all over again. I feel like I have just arrived in this world. I don’t know if it is going to be good or bad.’
The new town will house the old artifacts at a museum and hopes to draw archaeology enthusiasts there.
The dam plans have brought together 86 local and national organisations under the banner of the Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive but with the governor’s recent comments, it appears their solidarity may have been in vein.
Many countries removed their support for the Ilisu Dam, including the UK back in 2001 and in 2008, numerous European firms withdrew their funding from the controversial project.