[ EPF 2018 SHORTLIST ]
The history of the Mesopotamian rivers and their presence in our own cultural history may be one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world, spanning some, 10,000 years of world heritage. In the 4th millennium BCE, the first literate societies emerged in Southern Mesopotamia, often referred to as the Cradle of Civilization. What was once considered to be the Garden of Eden is now in danger of disappearing.
The Euphrates and Tigris rivers occupy a central place in the daily life, ecology, and history of millions of people living around them. The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of the Middle East flowing over 1,700 miles from eastern Turkey through Syria and Iraq.
Commuters on a ferry boat traveling across the Keban dam on the Euphrates river located in eastern Anatolia. Keban, Turkey
The Göksu is a tributary of the Euphrates, joining it from the north some 20 km downstream of the Atatürk Dam, east of the village of Kızılin. Turkey
Local girls from the village of Hasankeyf are meeting over a tea together. By 2018, the Ilisu dam project will start flooding 80% of the ancient monuments of Hasankeyf along with 52 other villages and 15 small towns. It will destroy 400 kilometers of the Tigris’s ecosystem and force the relocation of about 60,000 persons among the people of Hasankeyf. Turkey
Local tourists visiting the former village of Savaçan flooded by the reservoir lake of the Birecik Dam in 1999 located on the Euphrates river. Turkey
A woman working in a local cafe is looking at a tourist boat arriving in the former Savaçan Village flooded the Birecik Dam on the Euphrates river in the late 90’s. The town was among those settlements, ancient and contemporary, that would remain under the rising water levels of the local dams and rivers following the execution of the GAP project. Until the area was flooded in 1999, the people lived from fishing in the Euphrates and farming on the riverbank. Savaçan, Turkey
Local tourists visiting the village of Halfeti partly flooded by the reservoir lake of the Birecik Dam on the Euphrates river.The dam was built on top of the ruins of the ancient city of Zeugma. The inhabitants of Halfeti and Savaçan were displaced to the city of Karaotlak built by the Housing Development Administration of Turkey in 2000. Halfeti,Turkey
A beekeeper is standing by his beehives in a field near the town of Halfeti. The town of Halfeti partly flooded by the reservoir lake of the Birecik Dam on the Euphrates river.The dam was built on top of the ruins of the ancient city of Zeugma. The inhabitants of Halfeti and Savaçan were displaced to the city of Karaotlak (also called New Halfeti) built by the Housing Development Administration of Turkey. Halfeti,Turkey Halfeti, Turkey
A herd of cattle are walking back towards the village by the banks of the Tigris river. Hasankeyf, Turkey
Young farmers are standing on top of a hill dominating the banks of the Tigris river. The Ilisu dam project due in 2018 will flood 80% of the ancient monuments of Hasankeyf along with 52 other villages and 15 small towns by 2018. Kesmeköprü, Turkey
Sait and Turan are teachers in a local High School near the dam of Ataturk. They are overlooking at the artificial lake of the biggest dam in Turkey, located on the Euphrates River on the border of Adıyaman Province and Şanlıurfa Province in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey. Built both to generate electricity and to irrigate the plains in the region, it was renamed in honour of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881–1938), the founder of the Turkish Republic. The construction began in 1983 and was completed in 1990. Turkey
The town of Hasankeyf in southeast Turkey is the only place in the world that has met nine out of ten criteria for Unesco’s world heritage sites. However, the Turkish government has made no effort to bid for its inclusion in the coveted world heritage list, or to promote tourism in the ancient town located along the Tigris River. Any effort to do so would harm the development of the Ilisu dam — a state project that is supposed to entirely flood Hasankeyf, along with 52 other villages and 15 nearby towns, by 2019.
Already, a number of towns and villages located on the Euphrates River have been flooded as part of Turkey’s controversial Guneydogu Anadolu Projesi — or Southeastern Anatolia Project. GAP, as it is known, is currently Ankara’s most significant territory planning project, involving eight provinces, and will irrigate 1.7 million dry hectares of earth from 22 different dams all fed by water from the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers.
A villager from Hasankeyf is sitting at a café. The Ilisu Dam project due in 2018 will flood 80% of the ancient monuments of Hasankeyf along with 52 other villages and 15 small towns destroying a unique historical site where a mix of Assyrians, Roman and Ottoman monuments belong. Hasankeyf, Turkey
View from the dam construction site of Ilisu. Planned in 2018, the dam of Ilisu on the edges of the Tigris, will become the second biggest reservoir of water and the fourth hydro electrical power station of Turkey, with an annual production of 3,8 billions of kW / h. His expense is estimated at 1,2 billion euro. Ilisu, Turkey
A shepherd is walking with his sheep on the banks of the Tigris river near Hasankeyf. The river is predominant in the life of the inhabitants of the village of Hasankeyf. The Ilisu Dam project due towards the end of 2018 will flood 80% of the ancient monuments of Hasankeyf along with 52 other villages and 15 small towns destroying a unique historical site where a mix of Assyrians, Roman and Ottoman monuments belong. Hasankeyf, Turkey
View on the new settlement of Karaotlak. Halfeti is a small farming district on the east bank of the river Euphrates partly submerged in 1999 under the waters behind the dam on the Euphrates at Birecik. The town was therefore removed to the village of Karaotlak (also called New Halfeti) where the residency of the new town is now complete. Karaotlak, Turkey
Men are refilling water from a small spring on the side of the road between Siverek and the city of Sanliurfa.Turkey
A fisherman is fishing long the stream of a tributary river to the Euphrates across a cement factory.Turkey
Leyla is picking up grape leaves for her traditional dolma recipe in the fields of Harran. The Atatürk Dam and the Şanlıurfa Tunnel system are two major components of the GAP project. Irrigation started in the Harran Plain in the spring of 1995. The impact of the irrigation on the economy of the region is significant. In ninety percent of the irrigated area, cotton is planted. Irrigation expansion within the Harran plains also increased Southeastern Anatolia’s cotton production from 164,000 to 400,000 metric tons in 2001, or nearly sixty percent. With almost 50% share of the country’s cotton production, the region developed to the leader in Turkey. Harran, Turkey
A man is paddling in a boat across the Keban Lake in eastern Anatolia. The Keban Dam was the first and uppermost of several large scale hydroelectric dam to be built on the Euphrates by Turkey. Although the Dam was not originally constructed as a part of the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), it is now a fully integrated component of the project, which aims to stimulate economic development in Southeastern Turkey. Keban Dam Lake, reservoir created by the Keban Dam is reputedly the fourth-largest lake in Turkey after Lake Van, Lake Tuz and the reservoir created by the Atatürk Dam. Keban, Turkey
A restaurant terrace on the Tigris river during a summer day. The river is predominant in the life of the inhabitants of the region of Hasankeyf. The Ilisu Dam project due in 2018 will flood 80% of the ancient monuments of Hasankeyf along with 52 other villages and 15 small towns by 2018 destroying a unique historical site where a mix of Assyrians, Roman and Ottoman monuments belong. Hasankeyf, Turkey
A man sits by the road facing a 12th century bridge leading to Hasankeyf over the Tigris River which will soon be flooded along with the town itself by the Ilisu Dam. Hasankeyf, Turkey.
View on a terrace of a restaurant above the Tigris. The Old Bridge is a ruined four-arch bridge spanning the Tigris River in the town of Hasankeyf. It was built by the Artuqid Turkmens in the mid-12th century, between about 1147 and 1167, and at the time its central arch was one of the largest in the world, if not the largest. The town along with the bridge will be flooded by the Ilisu dam within the year 2018. Hasankeyf, Turkey
Both residents of southeastern Turkey and international observers continue to question the Ilisu dam, which will destroy a unique historical site, where Assyrians, Roman, and Ottoman monuments exist in close proximity. Yet the Turkish government maintains that the project will aid the impoverished region, allowing the creation of 10,000 jobs and the development of local farming and agriculture.
Along with environmental and social risks, the geopolitical impact of the dam cannot be ignored either. The development of Ilisu has been severely criticized by neighboring Iraq and Syria, who accuse Turkey of appropriating waters of two rivers that connect to their territories, which are already hit by arid conditions and drought.
b. 1980 France. Mathias Depardon was raised between France, Belgium and the USA. After studying communication and journalism in Brussels, Mathias briefly joined the Belgian national newspaper Le Soir before devoting himself to reportage and feature work. His immersive process and slower approach to journalism allow for comprehensive bodies of work that reveal and frame important social, economic and political issues in territories under tension such as Turkey and Iraq where he question the idea of border and territory. Through series of portraits and landscapes, Mathias Depardon probe a Turkey torn between modernization and the reminiscence of the ottoman values evoking the notion of Pan-Turkism in the neighboring countries. In 2018 he is the finalist of the Grand Prix de la Photographie Documentaire in Sète and laureate of the Grant for Contemporary Documentary Photography (Centre National des Arts Plastiques). Exhibitions have included the Musée des Archives nationales and Arles.
The Emerging Photographer Fund is supported by generous donors to the Magnum Foundation