The Upper Euphrates Region

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As one of the great rivers of the world, the Euphrates holds a unique place in the history of human occupation. 

Like the relationship between the civilization of ancient Egypt and the River Nile, the civilizations of Mesopotamia were fundamentally linked to the Euphrates and its partner further east, the Tigris.

Through irrigation agriculture, the Euphrates provides the water to make the desert land it around it immensely fertile. The Euphrates was the conduit of trade, people and ideas through the centuries. 

View over the Euphrates at Lake Assad (F. Cobbing,1997) 

The damming of a major river like the Euphrates creates large reservoir lakes, which flood the alluvial plain of the original river valley. The effect is to create a landscape of stark beauty, with just the barren hill-tops appearing above the new water line. Such projects are always controversial, but they answer the demands for water in a semi-arid country.

In recent years, the Upper Euphrates Region of Syria has seen a flurry of international archaeological activity, as numerous rescue excavations have been conducted in response to the two large scale dam projects in the region - the first project in the 1980s creating Lake Assad, and the second, the Tishrine Dam, which has only recently been completed. 

Although much has been lost under the rising waters, the extensive archaeological excavations have revealed crucial information concerning this area of Syria, which seems to have been an interface between the civilizations of inland central Syria, and that of Mesopotamia to the south. Many of these archaeological projects are represented by displays in the Damascus Museum.

Last modified 08/09/2002