, Volume 81, Issue 1, pp 55–75 | Cite as

The ancient water system at the Upper city of Hasankeyf, Turkey



In this paper, the water distribution system at the Upper city of a well-preserved medieval town of Hasankeyf near the Tigris is questioned and its relation to the urban settlement pattern is assessed. The discussions are based on the cistern-intensive and available canal data collected within the residential borders of the Upper city in 2005. Being the third level features of the water system, the cisterns the majority of which are now attributable to the “conical, small and individual” typology, have shown that they were actively operated through the open rock-cut canals which were fed by the backbone of the distribution network—namely the siphon system, until recent times. Although a considerable number of converted cisterns hallmark shifts in the function of the water system and the changing conjectures over time, the blue prints of such a big “hydro-design” reveal the competence of semi-arid occupational environments in Upper Mesopotamia in showing how to cope with the topographical constraints and climatic disadvantages and turn these into an opportunity through the efficient use of terrain along with a carefully designed settlement area. That the Upper city now offers numerous water features makes this piece of land quite a representative of the regional works and shows the apex of the perception of ancient technology achieved with the siphon that could have been launched in the Roman era, and the state of art of planning ancient natural and man-made habitats.


Hasankeyf Upper city Water Distribution Cistern 



The field study was conducted for the fulfilment of the thesis titled “The Water System at the Upper City of Hasankeyf and Its Impact on Urban Settlement”. I would like to express my gratitude and sincere thanks to Prof. Dr. G.M. Vedat TOPRAK for his invaluable guidance and continuous support during the field work, as well as indoor studies in the Department of Geological Engineering, METU. This study owes much to his precious suggestions on such an exciting research topic. I offer special thanks to the local dweller and friend, Yakup AYHAN, for his invaluable contributions at the Upper city. It is so much worth offering him thanks for accelerating the study with an incredible number of cisterns and limited supply of water under such a time constraint and the burning sun.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Middle East Technical University (Independent Researcher)AnkaraTurkey

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