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TriciVenola – Fall 2007 on the Hasankeyf Train—–
Project inception: Fall 2007: The ancient city of Hasankeyf on the Tigris, in Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, was doomed by the Turkish government to be drowned by the Ilisu Dam.  Atlas Magazine and Turkish ecologists organized a train to protest this, The Hasankeyf Train. My old friend Celal Ögmen, proprietor Kalamar Restaurant in Kumkapi, had wanted to send me to draw his mother’s village in Lake Van. Instead he bought me the last ticket on the train to a place I’d never suspected: Hasankeyf.


What it’s all about: Hasankeyf drawn from a photo taken in 2007. There’s Gone With the Wind, this is Gone With the Water. Years after this, the people of Hasankeyf, after several court verdicts in their favor were overturned by the government, buried their own beloved town with tons of dirt, in the hope that a more enlightened people will someday uncover it. Dirt is a better preservative than water. All that now remains visible of the oldest part of Hasankeyf are the very top rows of cave houses, and the tip of the castle. Some artifacts were removed across the Tigris, and damaged in the process. Court battles rage on. The citizens refused to live in the multistory cement housing blocks built by the government. They want their caves back, with access to neighbors. –2021


-Phyllis / Filiz -R Crumb would faint if he could see this German-Turkish Amazon valkyrie -Amazing old chandelier leftover from the glory days -Istanbul, Fall 2007: Invited by my friend Celal at Kalmar to go on a train to “Hasankeyf” on the Tigris, the oldest continuously-occupied town in the world. 12,000 years of visible history, and the Turkish government is going to destroy it with a dam that will last 40 years. This is a protest train from Istanbul to Sumeria- Mesopotamia (Modern Turkey) sponsored by Atlas Magazine. I am the only foreigner on the Hasankeyf Train.

-The fifth wrong seat was this guy. Luck! – One of the organizers -“(NCRPL)Natural & cultural rescue & protection for life. It’s a long name but it’s true.” – Ahmet Tuncay, architect, planner, archeologist, President of the protest group – Two guys putting posters on the conference car – Drawing “out the window” for the first time in YEARS – And we’re off! A very long train bound for an ancient village soon to be drowned by greed and idiocy -“It is 12,000 years old Sumerian, like that, they kill it.” – “We will have a city under water- we will dive.” – It’s like I know these people—-I did know them. They’re the ecology-loving, women’s rights-promoting, heritage-preserving, leftist celebrators of peace and freedom I’d been looking for since I moved to Turkey. My brethren! 


-Curled up on the seat with Mother’s old red shawl, on a night train to forever ago. Full moon. – Everyone is sleeping. – Later out in the murk I saw an immense pale hill – I feel like the world is a secret I’m listening in on. -SAPAK – Ahmet Tuncay -The loneliest train station in the world. Out on the whitened plain – Under the high chill moon.


30 August 2007 – Guven Eken – Oscan – Trici Venola’s participation in this trip sponsored by KALAMAR RESTAURANT in KUMKAPI-—-I learned more about how dams dry out the country than I ever wanted to know, all of it borne out by Turkey’s worsening rural conditions and subsequent horrific overcrowding of its cities, primarily Istanbul, by families who can no longer be supported by the land.

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