Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ancient Hittite dam inaugurated after 32 centuries

Source: Turkish Daily News

ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

A Hittite-era dam located in the central Anatolian province of ?orum and believed to be one of the oldest in the world to have survived to date has been restored and is once again serving as a source of irrigation for local residents.

The dam, located at the Alacah?y?k archaeological site, was built by the Hittites in 1240 B.C. The dam's inauguration was marked with a ceremony over the weekend attended by Professor Aykut ??naro?lu, who heads the team excavating Alacah?y?k, Ankara University Rector Professor Nusret Aras, Emin Sazak, director of the construction firm sponsoring the excavations and archaeologists working in the area.

??naro?lu said excavations in the area, launched in 1936 at the order of Mustafa Kemal Atat?rk, had revealed the dam in a swampy area.The dam was found to be functional, prompting further excavation in its vicinity.

The dam was ordered by Hittite King Tudhaliya IV in the name of goddess Hepat, according to ancient Hittite tablets, he said. After a drought Anatolia suffered in 1200 B.C., Tudhaliya IV imported wheat from Egypt so that his subjects would not suffer a famine. Following this, the king ordered numerous dams to be built in central Anatolia, in 1240 B.C. All but one of them became dysfunctional over time. The one in Alacah?y?k has survived because the water source is located inside the dam's reservoir, he explained.

??naro?lu said the construction technique used in building the dam was similar to those of today but that the stone blocks forming the dam were joined with clay instead of cement.

The Hittites used the dam to provide both irrigation and tap water, said ??naro?lu, adding: In ancient times, tap water from this dam was collected in a separate pool, and after filtering, the water was carried to the city center two kilometers away. Canals built based on the water's flow astonished us.

Capable of holding approximately 15,000 cubic meters of water, the dam is now being used by locals for irrigation. An ancient dam is re-inaugurated 3,240 years after it was built. It is now serving the 2,300 residents of Alacah?y?k village as an irrigation source," ??naro?lu said. He noted that the width of the reservoir would become clear after excavation was complete.

The base of a statue of Hepat as well as a golden necklace decorated with rubies were also unearthed during the excavations.

Following the ceremony guitarist Ahmet Kanneci and clarinetist Ekrem ?ztan performed a recital in front of the Hittite temple in Alacah?y?k, where the oldest known guitar relief is found.


Alexandra P said...

That is so incredibly cool! I am impressed both that the moderns went to the effort, and that the clay cement holding it all together has lasted so well. Thanks for sharing this!

Ioannis Georganas said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ioannis Georganas said...

You're most welcome Alexandra!
This is indeed fascinating!