Historic Hasankeyf cave flooded with concrete

A 10.000 year old cave in the ancient city of Hasankeyf was buried in concrete. Guide Sehmus Turgay said the thousands of years of story the cave had was destroyed for a dam that has a lifecycle of 50 years.

Demolitions continue in Hasankeyf, an ancient city with 12 thousand years of history that the Ilisu Dam that is currently under construction will flood. So-called restoration efforts also continue in the form of the Hasankeyf Citadel being covered in concrete. Dozens of caves leading up to the citadel were covered in concrete. The most famous cave in Hasankeyf, standing by the road to the historic Hasankeyf Bazaar from the citadel and is assumed to be around 10.000 years old, was torn down with excavators and flooded with concrete.


Since the day the demolitions began, some of the most important artifacts in the district, the Zeynelbey Tomb, Imam Abdullah Tomb and Hermitage, El Rizk Mosque Minaret, Selahattin Eyyubi Mosque and Minaret, Artuklu Bath House and the Roman Gates leading to the citadel were removed. The artifacts were taken to the Archeopark area in the new Hasankeyf set up by the skirts of the Raman Mountain, but it is not clear how much damage they suffered during transport. On top of the relocation, the historic Hasankeyf Citadel is being clad in concrete under the guise of “restoration” and “protection from water”.


Over a hundred caves have been flooded with concrete by construction equipment without any studies or inspections, under the guise of “restoration”. Some have been demolished with giant excavators, and many more were buried under concrete. The most famous cave in the area was demolished by excavators, and buried in concrete afterwards.

The cave where some scenes of Atif Yilmaz’s 1974 film “Kuma” (“Second Wife”) were recorded was dubbed “the Empty Crib Cave” by locals and tourist guides as one of the prop cribs used in the film was placed in the preserved cave in the 2000s. Every tour would stop by the cave, which was estimated to be around 10 thousand years old.


Despite the demolitions and the transportation of artifacts, tourist guides from Hasankeyf continue to inform the visitors of the town as they pass out booklets depicting Hasankeyf before the destruction. Hasankeyf guide Sehmus Turgay said they were saddened by the historic cave being flooded under concrete and added that the thousands of years of the cave’s story was sacrificed for a dam with a lifecycle of 50 years. Turgay said: “We don’t know what to do anymore. We are being pushed out of these lands we were born on and nobody is happy about this.”

Turgay said he has been telling visitors about the cave and the town since he was little and added that he will continue to do so as long as he lives, despite the destruction in Hasankeyf.