Mustafa Bilge Satkin
M.Bilge Satkn is an award-winning documentary photographer based in Istanbul, Turkey. He teaches as an Associate Professor in Marmara University Photography Department. He has participated in solo and many group exhibitions in diverse countries. In addition, his works have been awarded Pictures of the Year and Lucie Foundation Award. He is a member of Diversify Photo. He works for the United Nations Development Program (Turkey) as a volunteer photographer. His works mostly focus on social injustice, climate change, and migration.
This project tells the story of people forced to abandon their ancestral city Hasankeyf. It is located in upper Mesopotamia to Anatolia, along the Tigris River in Batman, Turkey. Here, aligned with the state's water policies, the Ilisu Dam was constructed even though, inevitably, historical and cultural heritage would be buried, its precious riverine habitat would be flooded, and people would be de-territorialized. The city, also known as Rock Fortress, is one of the oldest, continuously inhabited settlements globally, spanning an estimated 12,000 years. This urban establishment was like an open-air museum, containing thousands of human-made caves, hundreds of medieval monuments, and a unique canyon ecosystem in the Tigris Valley. With the Dam being built, the region's people had to leave their homes, lands, memories, and cultural history altogether behind. The most agonizing part of this process is that they also have to undug their lost loved ones' graves and carry their remains with them.
A view of 12000 years old Hasankeyf, before it is flooded. Evidence of numerous civilizations will vanish under the reservoir of the Dam.
A newlywed man moving to his new house before the ancient city is submerged. Forced to leave his inherited house, the young man has to pay rent for the new settlement.
The exhumation of a man who died 50 years ago. His granddaughters and great-grandsons who know him from their mothers are getting ready to move his remains.
Houses that were once filled with children, now flooded with water. The owner of the houses will not be able to see them anymore in a week, since that water rises 1.5 meters a day.
Last time on the bridge, from ancient Hasankeyf to the new town. The entrance of the ancient town will soon be flooded. A family is going across the bridge to reach the new settlement.
Locals are looking at the Cradle of Civilization for the very last time.
A praying woman is watching the exhumation. She is deeply sorry to hassle the dead with this process of removal.
Coffin Waiting to be Removed. For the people who were forced to leave memories behind, exhumation must have been the most agonizing part of all.
Two boys are watching the evacuated Hasankeyf from the higher points.
Houses built by the state in higher regions are provided to residents at a certain fee.
After a long and exhausting day, despite a loud and shaky (four-hour) trip, villagers are still taking a nap on the way back home on the boat.
Many of the roads to villages are submerged by the rising water. Boats are the only available transportation.
The villagers were maintaining with agriculture and stock raising. Losing their land, they had to find another way to make a living, touristic boat trips in the Dam. This young man is sunbathing while waiting for a customer.
Drought decreased the water level in the Dam, in some areas even to forty meters. Tens of thousands of fish were stuck in these areas were perished.
Koctepe, four kilometres away from the main Dam (body of the Dam), is the first inundated village Remains of ceramics from the archaeological excavations indicate a history going back to 3000-2700 BC.