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Turkish dam project would wipe out ancient town

A Turkish government dam project is threatening to flood a 12,000-year-old ancient settlement, bringing Turkey to the verge of losing traces of at least 10 civilizations.
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The images recently coming out of the ancient town of Hasankeyf have simply been shocking. In scenes and sounds suggestive of the Islamic State’s destruction of Palmyra and the Taliban blowing up the Bamiyan Buddhas, rocks rained down in some areas following the sound of explosions, shaking the 12,000-year-old settlement on the banks of the Tigris in Turkey, in some cases destroying history. In other instances, historical structures were photographed being carted away. 

All this is part of the current controversy in the latest episode of a decades-old saga that has brought Turkey to the verge of losing traces of at least 10 civilizations. This unique cultural heritage could have been preserved — it stood to attract millions of tourists if properly excavated — but instead, Ankara has maintained a chilly resolve to submerge an area of 313 square kilometers under the waters of a hydroelectric dam with a maximum lifespan of 60 years. Proposed in the 1950s, construction of the Ilisu Dam began in 2006 and proceeded with domestic funding after three European governments pulled out of the project. The dam is finally close to completion.

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