We had a server outage, and we're rebuilding the site. Some of the site features won't work. Thank you for your patience.
imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Tigris dam damns AssurTigris dam damns AssurTigris dam dams Assur

by Martin BAILEY Friday, Jul. 08, 2005 at 11:11 AM

The Iraqi government is building a dam which will obliterate the capital of the ancient Assyrian empire

Tigris dam damns Ass...
pic.jpgiu8y5t.jpg, image/jpeg, 200x420

LONDON, July, 2005 - The Iraqi government is building a dam which will destroy the ancient city of Assur, the former capital which gave its name to Assyria. Although it has received no publicity outside Iraq, the dam across the Tigris is likely to result in one of the greatest archaeological losses of modern times. John Curtis, the British Museum’s keeper of Ancient Near East, returned from a visit to Baghdad last month, and he told The Art Newspaper that the project “will destroy most of the remains of Assur”. He points out that the city, occupied by the Assyrians for some 2,000 years, is “arguably the most important archaeological site in the Near East.”

Dr Curtis warns that the archaeological losses are likely to be even greater than those caused by the Aswan High Dam in 1970, when temples along the Nile were flooded. On that occasion, Unesco launched a huge international rescue operation, but in the current political situation that would be impossible in Iraq. The rapid timetable for the Iraqi dam and the unexcavated nature of the remains at Assur would also make rescue work a major challenge.

Iraq is embarking on the dam because its hostile neighbour Turkey is taking more water from the source of the Tigris. At times there is so little water in the river downstream that it is apparently possible to walk across it at Mosul, the main city of northern Iraq. The new dam will store water, providing supplies for agriculture and the towns during the dry season.

The Makhul dam is being built 80 miles south of Mosul, spanning the Tigris valley between the Jebel Makhul and Jebel Hamrin mountains. This will create a lake which will run back for more than 20 miles and flood most of Assur.

The ancient city lies on a promontory, with its eastern edge on the flood plain of the Tigris and its northern edge in the valley of the river’s old course. The new lake would rise well above the lower levels of the ancient city and the water table would cause severe damage higher up. In addition to Assur, at least 100 other Assyrian sites would be lost or damaged by the new lake. These include Kar Tukulti-Ninurta, the important city built in the 13th century BC just to the north of Assur.

Assyrian capital

Assur (or Ashur) became the capital of Assyria by 2000 BC and it remained the religious centre of the empire until its capture by the Babylonians in 614 BC. It represented the centre of an empire which at its height stretched from present-day Egypt to Iran.

German archaeologists began to excavate Assur in 1903 and many of the most important finds are in Berlin’s Vorderasiatisches Museum. But despite a century of extensive excavations, large areas of the city remain virtually uninvestigated. Only a third of the 34 temples which were recorded shortly before the Babylonian invasion have been found. Still buried must be the greatest works of art from the royal workshops of the 13th century BC, residences of merchants from the 18th century BC and temples built before the 21st century BC.

The commercial and residential areas of Assur were on the lower levels, and these will be completely flooded by the Makhul Dam. Although the upper level of the city is 100 feet above the present river, the new lake will mean a substantial rise in the water table, and this will destroy most of the archaeological remains. Cuneiform tablets, for instance, will simply turn to mud.

In order to minimise damage to Assur, two solutions have been proposed by Iraqi archaeologists. The first would be the construction of a coffer-dam or dyke around the entire site of Assur. This would have to be several miles long and would be very expensive, possibly several times more than the main Makhul Dam. With the present shortage of government funds because of the economic problems resulting from international sanctions it is difficult to see Saddam Hussein being willing to divert resources for a coffer-dam.

The second proposal is that the Makhul Dam should not be as high as originally planned, resulting in a smaller storage lake. However, this would negate many of the benefits of the water storage project, probably making it uneconomic. It would also still flood low-lying remains at Assur, and the rise in the water table would cause further damage.


Last month senior Iraqi government antiquities official Muayad Damerji told The Art Newspaper that he personally believes that the solution is to “build a concrete wall around Assur.” He admits it would be “very expensive”, but points out that “we need water and we need Assur.”

Dr Damerji says that although the Ministry of Irrigation is considering a coffer-dam, detailed information on the levels of the archaeological strata has not yet been requested from the antiquities department. There is clearly great concern over whether funds will be available for this protective scheme.

It is difficult to discover what is happening on the ground, but work has apparently begun on the foundations of the main dam. Completion is expected to take around five years, and the project is being undertaken entirely by Iraqi contractors. Although some archaeological excavations are currently under way by German and Iraqi specialists, this is normal work and not a rescue dig. Within the time available, it would be very difficult to mount any large-scale excavation programme.

However, archaeologists have now decided to do what they can to mobilise international support to save Assur. At an academic conference on Nimrud, held at the British Museum in March, a resolution was approved which warned of the damaging consequences of the Makhul Dam: “The conference urges all concerned parties, both within Iraq and internationally, to explore every possible means of preserving the site of Assur which is of unique importance in the history of Iraq in particular and world civilisation in general.”

Friday, 1 July 2005
Forwarded by Joëlle Pénochet
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments

© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy