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The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of
Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion of the larger geographical region of Asia, as defined by some academics, UN bodies and other institutions. It is almost entirely a part of the Middle East, and includes Anat ...

Western Asia
. Together with the
Tigris The Tigris () is the easternmost of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of the Armenian Highlands through the Syrian Desert, Syrian and Arabian Deserts, and empti ...

Tigris
, it is one of the two defining rivers of
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
(the "Land Between the Rivers"). Originating in
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
, the Euphrates flows through
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
and
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
to join the Tigris in the
Shatt al-Arab , name_other = Arvand Rud , image = Shat al-arab-22.JPG , image_caption = Shatt al-Arab pictured near Basra Basra ( ar, ٱلْبَصْرَة, al-Baṣrah) is an Iraqi city located on the Shatt al-Arab. It had an estima ...
, which empties into the
Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fârs, lit=Gulf of , ) is a in . The body of water is an extension of the () through the and lies between to the northeast and the to the southwest.United Nations Group of Exper ...
.


Etymology

The
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
form ''Euphrátēs'' ( grc, Εὐφράτης, as if from Greek εὖ "good" and φράζω "I announce or declare") was adapted from
Old Persian Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languagesIndo-Iranian may refer to: * Indo-Iranian languages * Indo-Iranians, the various peoples speaking ...
𐎢𐎳𐎼𐎠𐎬𐎢 ''Ufrātu'', itself from
Elamite Elamite, also known as Hatamtite, is an extinct language that was spoken by the ancient Elamites. It was used in present-day southwestern Iran from 2600 BC to 330 BC. Elamite works disappear from the archeological record after Alexander the Great ...
𒌑𒅁𒊏𒌅𒅖 ''ú-ip-ra-tu-iš''. The Elamite name is ultimately derived from a name spelt in
cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is nam ...

cuneiform
as 𒌓𒄒𒉣 , which read as
Sumerian
Sumerian
is "Buranuna" and read as
AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages' ...

Akkadian
is "Purattu"; many cuneiform signs have a Sumerian pronunciation and an Akkadian pronunciation, taken from a Sumerian word and an Akkadian word that mean the same. In Akkadian the river was called ''Purattu'', which has been perpetuated in
Semitic languages The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family A language is a structured system of communication u ...

Semitic languages
(cf. ar, الفرات, translit=al-Furāt; syr, ̇ܦܪܬ ''Pǝrāt'') and in other nearby languages of the time (cf.
Hurrian The Hurrians (; Cuneiform script, cuneiform: ; transliteration: ''Ḫu-ur-ri''; also called Hari, Khurrites, Hourri, Churri, Hurri or Hurriter) were a people of the Bronze Age Ancient Near East, Near East. They spoke a Hurro-Urartian language cal ...
''Puranti'', Sabarian ''Uruttu''). The Elamite, Akkadian, and possibly Sumerian forms are suggested to be from an unrecorded
substrate language In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
. Tamaz V. Gamkrelidze and Vyacheslav Ivanov suggest the Proto-Sumerian *burudu "copper" (Sumerian ''urudu'') as an origin, with an explanation that Euphrates was the river by which copper ore was transported in rafts, since Mesopotamia was the center of copper metallurgy during the period. The name is ''Yeprat'' in
Armenian Armenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Armenia, a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia * Armenians, the national people of Armenia, or people of Armenian descent ** Armenian language, the Indo-European language spoken ...
(), ''Perat'' in
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
(), in
Turkish Turkish may refer to: * of or about Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), offi ...

Turkish
and in
Kurdish
Kurdish
. The earliest references to the Euphrates come from
cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is nam ...

cuneiform
texts found in
Shuruppak Shuruppak ( sux, , "the healing place"), modern Tell Fara, was an ancient Sumerian city situated about 55 kilometres (35 mi) south of Nippur on the banks of the Euphrates in Iraq's Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate. Shuruppak was dedicated to Ninlil, ...
and pre-
Sargonic
Sargonic
Nippur Nippur (Sumerian: ''Nibru'', often logographically recorded as , EN.LÍLKI, "Enlil City;"The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010. AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian l ...
in southern
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
and date to the mid-3rd millennium BCE. In these texts, written in Sumerian, the Euphrates is called ''Buranuna'' (
logographic In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lan ...
: UD.KIB.NUN). The name could also be written KIB.NUN.(NA) or dKIB.NUN, with the prefix " d" indicating that the river was a
divinity Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://ww ...

divinity
. In Sumerian, the name of the city of
Sippar Sippar (: , Zimbir) was an ian and later n city on the east bank of the river. Its ' is located at the site of modern Tell Abu Habbah near in 's , some north of and southwest of . The city's ancient name, Sippar, could also refer to its sis ...
in modern-day Iraq was also written UD.KIB.NUN, indicating a historically strong relationship between the city and the river.


Course

The Euphrates is the longest river of
Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion of the larger geographical region of Asia, as defined by some academics, UN bodies and other institutions. It is almost entirely a part of the Middle East, and includes Anat ...

Western Asia
. It emerges from the confluence of the Kara Su or Western Euphrates () and the Murat Su or Eastern Euphrates () upstream from the town of
Keban Keban is a town and district of Elazığ Province Elâzığ Province ( tr, , Zazaki Zaza () is an Indo-European language The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the la ...
in southeastern Turkey. Daoudy and Frenken put the length of the Euphrates from the source of the Murat River to the confluence with the
Tigris The Tigris () is the easternmost of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of the Armenian Highlands through the Syrian Desert, Syrian and Arabian Deserts, and empti ...

Tigris
at , of which is in
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
, in
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
and in Iraq. The same figures are given by Isaev and Mikhailova. The length of the
Shatt al-Arab , name_other = Arvand Rud , image = Shat al-arab-22.JPG , image_caption = Shatt al-Arab pictured near Basra Basra ( ar, ٱلْبَصْرَة, al-Baṣrah) is an Iraqi city located on the Shatt al-Arab. It had an estima ...
, which connects the Euphrates and the Tigris with the
Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fârs, lit=Gulf of , ) is a in . The body of water is an extension of the () through the and lies between to the northeast and the to the southwest.United Nations Group of Exper ...
, is given by various sources as . Both the Kara Su and the Murat Su rise northwest from
Lake Van Lake Van ( tr, Van Gölü; hy, Վանա լիճ, translit=Vana lič̣; ku, Gola Wanê), is the largest lake in Turkey and the Armenian Highlands. It lies in the Eastern Anatolia Region, far east of Turkey, in the provinces of Van Province, Van ...

Lake Van
at elevations of and
amsl Height above mean sea level is a measure of the vertical distanceVertical position or vertical location is a position along a vertical direction above or below a given vertical datum A vertical datum, altimetric datum, or height datum is a re ...
, respectively. At the location of the
Keban Dam The Keban Dam ( tr, Keban Barajı) is a hydroelectric Hydroelectricity, or hydroelectric power, is electricity produced from hydropower Hydropower (from el, ὕδωρ, "water"), also known as water power, is the use of falling or fast ...
, the two rivers, now combined into the Euphrates, have dropped to an elevation of amsl. From Keban to the Syrian–Turkish border, the river drops another over a distance of less than . Once the Euphrates enters the Upper Mesopotamian plains, its
grade Grade or grading may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Grade (band) Grade is a melodic hardcore band from Canada, often credited as pioneers in blending metallic hardcore with the hon and melody of emo, and - most notably - the alternating scr ...
drops significantly; within Syria the river falls while over the last stretch between
Hīt Hīt, also spelled ''Heet'' ( ar, هيت), ancient name ''Is'', is an Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِر ...
and the Shatt al-Arab the river drops only .


Discharge

The Euphrates receives most of its water in the form of rainfall and melting snow, resulting in peak volumes during the months April through May. Discharge in these two months accounts for 36 percent of the total annual discharge of the Euphrates, or even 60–70 percent according to one source, while low runoff occurs in summer and autumn. The average natural annual flow of the Euphrates has been determined from early- and mid-twentieth century records as at Keban, at
Hīt Hīt, also spelled ''Heet'' ( ar, هيت), ancient name ''Is'', is an Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِر ...
and at Hindiya. However, these averages mask the high inter-annual variability in discharge; at
Birecik Birecik (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 1 ...

Birecik
, just north of the Syro–Turkish border, annual discharges have been measured that ranged from a low volume of in 1961 to a high of in 1963. The discharge regime of the Euphrates has changed dramatically since the construction of the first dams in the 1970s. Data on Euphrates discharge collected after 1990 show the impact of the construction of the numerous dams in the Euphrates and of the increased withdrawal of water for irrigation. Average discharge at Hīt after 1990 has dropped to per second ( per year). The seasonal variability has equally changed. The pre-1990 peak volume recorded at Hīt was per second, while after 1990 it is only per second. The minimum volume at Hīt remained relatively unchanged, rising from per second before 1990 to per second afterward.


Tributaries

In Syria, three rivers add their water to the Euphrates; the
Sajur Sajur (; ) is a Druze citizens of Israel, Druze town (local council (Israel), local council) in the Galilee region of northern Israel, with an area of 3,000 dunams (3 km²). It achieved recognition as an independent local council in 1992. In ...
, the
Balikh The Balikh River ( ar, نهر البليخ) is a perennial river that originates in the spring of Ain al-Arous near Tell Abyad in the Eastern Mediterranean conifer-sclerophyllous-broadleaf forests ecoregion. It flows due south and joins the Euphrate ...
and the Khabur. These rivers rise in the foothills of the
Taurus Mountains The Taurus Mountains (Turkish Turkish may refer to: * of or about Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece Gr ...
along the Syro–Turkish border and add comparatively little water to the Euphrates. The Sajur is the smallest of these tributaries; emerging from two streams near
Gaziantep Gaziantep (), previously and still informally called Aintab or Antep (), is the capital of the Gaziantep Province Gaziantep Province ( tr, ) is a province in south-central Turkey. Its capital is the city of Gaziantep, which had a population o ...

Gaziantep
and draining the plain around
Manbij Manbij ( ar, مَنْبِج, Manbiǧ, ku, Minbic ,مەنبج) is a city in the northeast of Aleppo Governorate Aleppo Governorate ( ar, محافظة حلب / ALA-LC ALA-LC (American Library Association - Library of Congress) is a set of standar ...
before emptying into the
reservoir A reservoir (; from French ''réservoir'' ) is most commonly an enlarged natural or artificial lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a basin, surrounded by land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not per ...

reservoir
of the
Tishrin Dam The Tishrin Dam ( ar, سد تشرين, Sadd Tišrīn, lit=October Dam, ku, Bendava Tişrîn, syc, ܣܟܪܐ ܕܬܫܪܝܢ, Sekro d'Teshrin) is a dam on the Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important ri ...
. The Balikh receives most of its water from a
karstic Karst is a topography Topography is the study of the forms and features of land surfaces. The topography of an area could refer to the surface forms and features themselves, or a description (especially their depiction in maps). Topograph ...
spring near 'Ayn al-'Arus and flows due south until it reaches the Euphrates at the city of
Raqqa Raqqa ( ar, ٱلرَّقَّة, ar-Raqqah, also , and ) is a city in Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَ ...
. In terms of length, drainage basin and discharge, the Khabur is the largest of these three. Its main karstic springs are located around Ra's al-'Ayn, from where the Khabur flows southeast past
Al-Hasakah Al-Hasakah ( ar, ٱلْحَسَكَة, al-Ḥasaka, ku, حەسیچە Hesekê, syr, ܚܣܝܟܐ), is the capital city of the Al-Hasakah Governorate Al-Hasakah Governorate ( ar, محافظة الحسكة, Muḥāfaẓat al-Ḥasakah, syc, ܗܘܦܪ ...
, where the river turns south and drains into the Euphrates near
Busayrah Al-Busayrah ( ar, الْبُصَيْرَة, al-Buṣayrah) is a town in eastern Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱل ...
. Once the Euphrates enters Iraq, there are no more natural tributaries to the Euphrates, although canals connecting the Euphrates basin with the Tigris basin exist.


Drainage basin

The
drainage basin A drainage basin is any area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet, such as into a river, bay, or other body of water. The drainage basin includes all the surface water from surface runoff, rain runoff, snowm ...

drainage basin
s of the Kara Su and the Murat River cover an area of and , respectively. Estimates of the area of the Euphrates drainage basin vary widely; from a low to a high . Recent estimates put the basin area at , and . The greater part of the Euphrates basin is located in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. According to both Daoudy and Frenken, Turkey's share is 28 percent, Syria's is 17 percent and that of Iraq is 40 percent. Isaev and Mikhailova estimate the percentages of the drainage basin lying within Turkey, Syria and Iraq at 33, 20 and 47 percent respectively. Some sources estimate that approximately 15 percent of the drainage basin is located within
Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...

Saudi Arabia
, while a small part falls inside the borders of
Kuwait Kuwait (; ar, الكويت ', or ), officially the State of Kuwait ( ar, دولة الكويت '), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regi ...

Kuwait
. Finally, some sources also include
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; tr. ') is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In ge ...

Jordan
in the drainage basin of the Euphrates; a small part of the eastern desert () drains toward the east rather than to the west.


Natural history

The Euphrates flows through a number of distinct
vegetation Vegetation is an assemblage of plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular re ...

vegetation
zones. Although millennia-long human occupation in most parts of the Euphrates basin has significantly degraded the landscape, patches of original vegetation remain. The steady drop in annual rainfall from the sources of the Euphrates toward the Persian Gulf is a strong determinant for the vegetation that can be supported. In its upper reaches the Euphrates flows through the mountains of Southeast Turkey and their southern foothills which support a
xeric Deserts and xeric shrublands are a biome A biome is a collection of flora, plants and fauna, animals that have common characteristics for the natural environment, environment they exist in. They can be found over a range of continents. Biome ...
woodland A woodland () is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the ''plurale tantum A ''plurale tantum'' (Latin for "plural only"; ) is a noun that appears only in the plural The plu ...

woodland
. Plant species in the moister parts of this zone include various
oak An oak is a tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including on ...

oak
s, pistachio trees, and ''
Rosaceae Rosaceae , the rose family, is a medium-sized family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birth) or (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain the well-being ...
'' (rose/plum family). The drier parts of the xeric woodland zone supports less dense oak forest and ''Rosaceae''. Here can also be found the wild variants of many cereals, including
einkorn wheat Einkorn wheat (from German ''Einkorn'', literally "single grain") can refer either to the wild species of wheat Wheat is a grass widely cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain which is a worldwide staple food. The many species of wheat tog ...
,
emmer wheat Emmer wheat or hulled wheat is a type of awned wheat Wheat is a grass widely cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain which is a worldwide staple food. The many species of wheat together make up the genus ''Triticum''; the most widely grown ...
,
oat The oat (''Avena sativa''), sometimes called the common oat, is a of grown for its seed, which is known by the same name (usually in the plural, unlike other cereals and ). While oats are suitable for human consumption as and , one of the m ...
and
rye Rye (''Secale cereale'') is a grass Poaceae () or Gramineae () is a large and nearly ubiquitous family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birth) or (by marriage or other relationshi ...

rye
. South of this zone lies a zone of mixed woodland-
steppe In physical geography, a steppe () is an ecoregion characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes. Steppe biomes may include: * the montane grasslands and shrublands biome * the temperate grassland ...

steppe
vegetation. Between Raqqa and the Syro–Iraqi border the Euphrates flows through a steppe landscape. This steppe is characterised by (''Artemisia herba-alba'') and ''
Chenopodiaceae Amaranthaceae is a family of flowering plants commonly known as the amaranth family, in reference to its type genus '' Amaranthus''. It includes the former goosefoot family Chenopodiaceae and contains about 165 genera and 2,040 species, making i ...
''. Throughout history, this zone has been heavily overgrazed due to the practicing of
sheep Sheep (''Ovis aries'') are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order (biology), order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name ''sheep'' applies to many species ...

sheep
and
goat The domestic goat or simply goat (''Capra hircus'') is a domesticated species of typically kept as . It was from the (''C. aegagrus'') of and . The goat is a member of the animal family and the subfamily , meaning it is closely related ...

goat
pastoralism Pastoralism is a form of animal husbandry where domesticated animals known as livestock are released onto large vegetated outdoor lands (pastures) for grazing, historically by nomadic people who moved around with their herds. The species invol ...
by its inhabitants. Southeast of the border between Syria and Iraq starts true
desert A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of ...

desert
. This zone supports either no vegetation at all or small pockets of ''Chenopodiaceae'' or ''''. Although today nothing of it survives due to human interference, research suggests that the Euphrates Valley would have supported a
riverine forest A riparian forest or riparian woodland is a forested or wooded area of land adjacent to a body of water such as a river, stream, pond, lake, marshland, estuary, canal, Sink (geography), sink or reservoir. Etymology The term riparian comes from ...
. Species characteristic of this type of forest include the Oriental plane, the , the
tamarisk The genus ''Tamarix'' (tamarisk, salt cedar) is composed of about 50–60 species of flowering plant The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae (), or Magnoliophyta (), are the most diverse group of Embryophyte, land plants, with 64 Ord ...

tamarisk
, the
ash Ash or ashes are the solid remnants of fire BBQ. Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction Product (chemistry), products. Fire is hot because th ...
and various wetland plants. Among the fish species in the Tigris–Euphrates basin, the family of the
Cyprinidae Cyprinidae is a family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically ...
are the most common, with 34 species out of 52 in total. Among the Cyprinids, the mangar has good
sport fishing Recreational fishing, also called sport fishing, is fishing Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with Digit (anatomy), digits. ...
qualities, leading the British to nickname it "Tigris salmon." The '' Rafetus euphraticus'' is an endangered
soft-shelled turtle The Trionychidae are a taxonomic family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is t ...
that is limited to the Tigris–Euphrates river system. The
Neo-Assyrian The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform: ''mat Aš-šur KI'', "Country of the Assur, city of Ashur (god), god Aššur"; also phonetically ''mat Aš-šur'') was an Iron Age Mesopotamian empire, in existence between 911 and 609 BC, and becam ...

Neo-Assyrian
palace reliefs from the 1st millennium BCE depict
lion The lion (''Panthera leo'') is a large cat The cat (''Felis catus'') is a domestic Domestic may refer to: In the home * Anything relating to the human home A home, or domicile, is a space used as a permanent or semi-perma ...

lion
and bull hunts in fertile landscapes. Sixteenth to nineteenth century European travellers in the Syrian Euphrates basin reported on an abundance of animals living in the area, many of which have become rare or even extinct. Species like
gazelle A gazelle is any of many antelope The term antelope is used to refer to many species of even-toed ruminant Ruminants (suborder In biological classification, the order ( la, wikt:ordo#Latin, ordo) is # a taxonomic rank used in the classi ...

gazelle
,
onager The onager (; ''Equus hemionus''), also known as hemione or Asiatic wild ass, is a species of the family Equidae (horse family) native to Asia. A member of the subgenus ''Asinus'', the onager was Scientific description, described and given its b ...

onager
and the now-extinct
Arabian ostrich The Arabian ostrich (''Struthio camelus syriacus''), Syrian ostrich, or Middle Eastern ostrich is an extinct subspecies of the Common ostrich, ostrich that lived on the Arabian Peninsula and in the Near East until the mid-20th century. Distributi ...
lived in the steppe bordering the Euphrates valley, while the valley itself was home to the
wild boar The wild boar (''Sus scrofa''), also known as the wild swine, common wild pig, Eurasian wild pig, or simply wild pig, is a suid native to much of Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and ...

wild boar
. Carnivorous species include the
gray wolf The wolf (''Canis lupus''), also known as the gray wolf or grey wolf, is a large canine Canine may refer to: Zoology * dog-like mammals (i.e. members of the canid subfamily Caninae) ** ''Canis'', a genus including dogs, wolves, coyotes, a ...

gray wolf
, the
golden jackal The golden jackal (''Canis aureus'') is a wolf-like canid that is native to Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography, regions are areas ...

golden jackal
, the
red fox The red fox (''Vulpes vulpes'') is the largest of the true foxes and one of the most widely distributed members of the order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanli ...

red fox
, the
leopard The leopard (''Panthera pardus'') is one of the five extant species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is ...

leopard
and the lion. The
Syrian brown bear The Syrian brown bear (''Ursus arctos syriacus'' or ''Ursus arctos arctos'') is a relatively small subspecies In Taxonomy (biology), biological classification, the term subspecies refers to one of two or more populations of a species living ...

Syrian brown bear
can be found in the mountains of Southeast Turkey. The presence of
European beaver The Eurasian beaver (''Castor fiber'') or European beaver is a beaver species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A spe ...
has been attested in the bone assemblage of the prehistoric site of Abu Hureyra in Syria, but the beaver has never been sighted in historical times.


River

The
Hindiya Barrage The Hindiya Barrage is a barrage on the Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining riv ...
on the Iraqi Euphrates, based on plans by British civil engineer
William Willcocks Sir William Willcocks (27 September 1852 in India – 28 July 1932 in Cairo, Cairo, Egypt) was a British civil engineer during the British Empire#Britain's imperial century (1815–1914), high point of the British Empire. He was an irrigation ...
and finished in 1913, was the first modern water diversion structure built in the Tigris–Euphrates river system. The Hindiya Barrage was followed in the 1950s by the Ramadi Barrage and the nearby Abu Dibbis Regulator, which serve to regulate the flow regime of the Euphrates and to discharge excess flood water into the
depression Depression may refer to: Mental health * Depression (mood), a state of low mood and aversion to activity * Mood disorders characterized by depression are commonly referred to as simply ''depression'', including: ** Dysthymia ** Major depressive ...
that is now
Lake Habbaniyah Lake Habbaniyah ( ''Baḥīra al-Ḥabbāniya'') is a lake located halfway between Ramadi and Fallujah near Al-Taqaddum (TQ) Air Base in Al Habbaniyah in Al Anbar Governorate, Anbar Province, Iraq. In the late 1930s and 1940s Lake Habbaniyah was ...
. Iraq's largest dam on the Euphrates is the
Haditha Dam The Haditha Dam ( ar, سد حديثة, Sadd Ḥadītha) or Qadisiya Dam is an earth-fill dam in Pakistan. It is the largest earth-filled dam in the world., 230x230px in Canada. Image:Tataragi Dam01n4272.jpg, Tataragi Dam in Asago, Hyōgo, Asago ...
; a
earth-fill dam An embankment dam is a large . It is typically created by the placement and of a complex semi- mound of various compositions of soil or rock. It has a semi-pervious waterproof natural covering for its surface and a dense, impervious core. This ...

earth-fill dam
creating
Lake Qadisiyah A man-made reservoir A reservoir (; from French language, French ''réservoir'' ) is most commonly an enlarged natural or artificial lake created using a dam to water storage, store water. Reservoirs can be created in a number of ways, inclu ...
. Syria and Turkey built their first dams in the Euphrates in the 1970s. The
Tabqa Dam The Tabqa Dam ( ar, سَدُّ الطَّبْقَةِ, Sadd aṭ-Ṭabqah, ku, Bendava Tebqa; syc, ܣܟܪܐ ܕܛܒܩܗ, Sekro d'Tabqa), or al-Thawra Dam as it is also named ( ar, سَدُّ الثَّوْرَةِ, Sadd aṯ-Ṯawrah, ku, Bendav ...

Tabqa Dam
in Syria was completed in 1973 while Turkey finished the Keban Dam, a prelude to the immense
Southeastern Anatolia Project The Southeastern Anatolia Project ( tr, Güneydoğu Anadolu Projesi, GAP) is a multi-sector integrated regional development project based on the concept of sustainable development Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting ...
, in 1974. Since then, Syria has built two more dams in the Euphrates, the
Baath Dam The Baath Dam ( ar, سد البعث, lit=Dam of the Renaissance, ku, Bendava Baas, syc, ܣܟܪܐ ܕܒܥܬ, Sekro d'Ba'ath) is a dam on the Euphrates, located upstream from the city of Raqqa in Raqqa Governorate, Syria Syria ( ar, سُ ...
and the Tishrin Dam, and plans to build a fourth dam – the
Halabiye Dam The Halabiye Dam (or Zalabiye Dam) is a proposed dam on the Euphrates in Deir ez-Zor Governorate, Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَ ...
– between Raqqa and
Deir ez-Zor Deir ez-Zor ( ar, دَيْرُ ٱلزَّوْرِ \ دَيْرُ ٱلزُّورِ, Dayru z-Zawr / Dayru z-Zūr; SyriacSyriac may refer to: *Syriac language, a dialect of Middle Aramaic * Syriac alphabet ** Syriac (Unicode block) ** Syriac Suppleme ...
. The Tabqa Dam is Syria's largest dam and its reservoir (
Lake Assad Lake Assad ( ar, بحيرة الأسد, ''Buhayrat al-Assad'') is a reservoir on the Euphrates in Raqqa Governorate, Syria. It was created in 1974 when construction of the Tabqa Dam was completed. Lake Assad is Syria's largest lake, with a maximu ...

Lake Assad
) is an important source of irrigation and drinking water. It was planned that should be irrigated from Lake Assad, but in 2000 only had been realized. Syria also built three smaller dams on the Khabur and its tributaries. With the implementation of the Southeastern Anatolia Project ('' tr, Güneydoğu Anadolu Projesi'', or ''GAP'') in the 1970s, Turkey launched an ambitious plan to harness the waters of the Tigris and the Euphrates for irrigation and hydroelectricity production and provide an economic stimulus to its southeastern provinces. GAP affects a total area of and approximately 7 million people; representing about 10 percent of Turkey's total surface area and population, respectively. When completed, GAP will consist of 22 dams – including the Keban Dam – and 19 power plants and provide irrigation water to of agricultural land, which is about 20 percent of the irrigable land in Turkey. C. of this irrigated land is located in the Euphrates basin. By far the largest dam in GAP is the
Atatürk Dam The Atatürk Dam ( tr, Atatürk Barajı), originally the Karababa Dam, is a zoned rock-fill dam with a central core on the Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–E ...

Atatürk Dam
, located c. northwest of
Şanlıurfa Urfa, officially known as Şanlıurfa (; ku, Riha, script=Latn; syr, ܐܘܪܗܝ, Ūrhāi; hy, Ուռհայ, Urrha; known in ancient times as Edessa and surrounding regions during the Early Christian period, with Edessa in the upper left ...

Şanlıurfa
. This and dam was completed in 1992; thereby creating a reservoir that is the third-largest lake in Turkey. With a maximum capacity of , the Atatürk Dam reservoir is large enough to hold the entire annual discharge of the Euphrates. Completion of GAP was scheduled for 2010 but has been delayed because the
World Bank The World Bank is an international financial institution An international financial institution (IFI) is a financial institution that has been established (or chartered) by more than one country, and hence is subject to international law. Its o ...
has withheld funding due to the lack of an official agreement on water sharing between Turkey and the downstream states on the Euphrates and the Tigris. Apart from barrages and dams, Iraq has also created an intricate network of canals connecting the Euphrates with Lake Habbaniyah,
Lake Tharthar Lake Tharthar (also Therthar), and known in Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆمار ...
, and Abu Dibbis reservoir; all of which can be used to store excess floodwater. Via the Shatt al-Hayy, the Euphrates is connected with the Tigris. The largest canal in this network is the Main Outfall Drain or so-called "Third River;" constructed between 1953 and 1992. This canal is intended to drain the area between the Euphrates and the Tigris south of
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, ...

Baghdad
to prevent soil salinization from irrigation. It also allows large freight barges to navigate up to Baghdad.


Environmental and social effects

The construction of the dams and irrigation schemes on the Euphrates has had a significant impact on the environment and society of each riparian country. The dams constructed as part of GAP – in both the Euphrates and the Tigris basins – have affected 382 villages and almost 200,000 people have been resettled elsewhere. The largest number of people was displaced by the building of the Atatürk Dam, which alone affected 55,300 people. A survey among those who were displaced showed that the majority were unhappy with their new situation and that the compensation they had received was considered insufficient. The flooding of Lake Assad led to the forced displacement of c. 4,000 families, who were resettled in other parts of northern Syria as part of a now abandoned plan to create an " Arab belt" along the borders with Turkey and Iraq. Apart from the changes in the discharge regime of the river, the numerous dams and irrigation projects have also had other effects on the environment. The creation of reservoirs with large surfaces in countries with high average temperatures has led to increased
evaporation Evaporation is a type of vaporization Vaporization (or vaporisation) of an element or compound is a phase transition from the liquid phase to vapor. There are two types of vaporization: evaporation and boiling. Evaporation is a surface phe ...

evaporation
; thereby reducing the total amount of water that is available for human use. Annual evaporation from reservoirs has been estimated at in Turkey, in Syria and in Iraq. Water quality in the Iraqi Euphrates is low because irrigation water tapped in Turkey and Syria flows back into the river, together with dissolved fertilizer chemicals used on the fields. The salinity of Euphrates water in Iraq has increased as a result of upstream dam construction, leading to lower suitability as drinking water. The many dams and irrigation schemes, and the associated large-scale water abstraction, have also had a detrimental effect on the ecologically already fragile
Mesopotamian Marshes The Mesopotamian Marshes, also known as the Iraqi Marshes, are a wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem An ecosystem is a community (ecology), community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environ ...
and on freshwater fish
habitat In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers at the ...

habitat
s in Iraq. The inundation of large parts of the Euphrates valley, especially in Turkey and Syria, has led to the flooding of many
archaeological site An archaeological site is a place (or group of physical sites) in which evidence of past activity is preserved (either prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also kn ...

archaeological site
s and other places of cultural significance. Although concerted efforts have been made to record or save as much of the endangered
cultural heritage Cultural heritage is the legacy of tangible and intangible heritage assetA heritage asset is an item that has value because of its contribution to a nation’s society, knowledge and/or culture. They are usually physical assets, but some countries ...
as possible, many sites are probably lost forever. The combined GAP projects on the Turkish Euphrates have led to major international efforts to document the archaeological and cultural heritage of the endangered parts of the valley. Especially the flooding of
Zeugma Zeugma may refer to: *Zeugma and syllepsis, figures of speech * Zeugma (Commagene), an ancient settlement in Commagene (eastern Anatolia) * Zeugma (Dacia), an ancient settlement in Dacia, mentioned by Ptolemy * Zeugma (literary journal), ''Zeugma'' ...
with its unique
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Laz ...
mosaic A mosaic is a pattern or image made of small regular or irregular pieces of colored stone, glass or ceramic, held in place by plaster/mortar, and covering a surface. Mosaics are often used as floor and wall decoration, and were particularly pop ...

mosaic
s by the reservoir of the
Birecik Dam The Birecik Dam, one of the 21 dams of the Southeastern Anatolia Project of Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece ...
has generated much controversy in both the Turkish and international press. The construction of the Tabqa Dam in Syria led to a large international campaign coordinated by
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
to document the heritage that would disappear under the waters of Lake Assad. Archaeologists from numerous countries excavated sites ranging in date from the
Natufian The Natufian culture () is a Late Epipaleolithic (Levant), Epipaleolithic archaeological culture of the Levant, dating to around 15,000 to 11,500 years ago. The culture was unusual in that it supported a Sedentism, sedentary or semi-sedentary pop ...
to the
Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلْعَبَّاسِيَّةُ, ') was the third caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islam Islam (;There ar ...

Abbasid
period, and two minarets were dismantled and rebuilt outside the flood zone. Important sites that have been flooded or affected by the rising waters of Lake Assad include
Mureybet Mureybet ( ar, مريبط, muribit, lit=covered) is a tell, or ancient settlement mound, located on the west bank of the Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Eu ...
,
Emar ) , image = View_from_the_Byzantine_Tower_at_Meskene,_ancient_Barbalissos.jpg , alt = , caption = View from the Byzantine Tower at Meskene, ancient Barbalissos , map_type = Syria , map_alt = , map_size = 200 ...
and Abu Hureyra. A similar international effort was made when the Tishrin Dam was constructed, which led, among others, to the flooding of the important
Pre-Pottery Neolithic B Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) is part of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic The Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) represents the early Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that ...
site of Jerf el-Ahmar. An
archaeological survey In archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complexity, complex topic or Substance theory, substance into smaller parts in order to gai ...
and rescue excavations were also carried out in the area flooded by Lake Qadisiya in Iraq. Parts of the flooded area have recently become accessible again due to the drying up of the lake, resulting not only in new possibilities for archaeologists to do more research, but also providing opportunities for
looting Looting is the act of stealing, or the taking of goods by force, typically in the midst of a military, political, or other social crisis, such as war War is an intense armed conflict between states, government A government i ...
, which has been rampant elsewhere in Iraq in the wake of the 2003 invasion.


History


Palaeolithic to Chalcolithic periods

The early occupation of the Euphrates basin was limited to its upper reaches; that is, the area that is popularly known as the
Fertile Crescent The Fertile Crescent is a crescent-shaped region in the Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an establishe ...

Fertile Crescent
.
Acheulean Acheulean (; also Acheulian and Mode II), from the French ''acheuléen'' after the type site of Saint-Acheul, is an archaeological industry:''Not to be confused with industrial archaeology , and a common topic of study for industrial archa ...

Acheulean
stone artifacts have been found in the Sajur basin and in the El Kowm oasis in the central
Syrian steppe The Syrian Desert ( ar, بادية الشام, ''Bādiyat Ash-Shām''), also known as the Syrian steppe, the Jordanian steppe, or the Badia, is a region of desert A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs ...
; the latter together with remains of ''
Homo erectus ''Homo erectus'' (meaning "upright Body relative directions (also known as egocentric coordinates) are geometrical orientations relative to a body such as a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread s ...

Homo erectus
'' that were dated to 450,000 years old. In the Taurus Mountains and the upper part of the Syrian Euphrates valley, early permanent villages such as Abu Hureyra – at first occupied by
hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, language and tools. T ...
s but later by some of the earliest
farmer A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exe ...

farmer
s, Jerf el-Ahmar, Mureybet and
Nevalı Çori Nevalı Çori ( tr, Nevali Çori) was an early Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history ...
became established from the eleventh millennium BCE onward. In the absence of irrigation, these early farming communities were limited to areas where
rainfed agricultureRainfed agriculture is a type of farming Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated spec ...
was possible, that is, the upper parts of the Syrian Euphrates as well as Turkey. Late Neolithic villages, characterized by the introduction of
pottery Pottery is the process and the products of forming vessels and other objects with clay Clay is a type of fine-grained natural soil Surface-water- gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland.">Northern_Ireland.html" ;"title="g ...

pottery
in the early 7th millennium BCE, are known throughout this area. Occupation of lower Mesopotamia started in the 6th millennium and is generally associated with the introduction of irrigation, as rainfall in this area is insufficient for dry agriculture. Evidence for irrigation has been found at several sites dating to this period, including Tell es-Sawwan. During the 5th millennium BCE, or late
Ubaid period The Ubaid period (c. 6500–3800 BC) is a prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by a ...
, northeastern Syria was dotted by small villages, although some of them grew to a size of over . In Iraq, sites like
Eridu Eridu (Sumerian: , NUN.KI/eridugki; AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambrid ...
and were already occupied during the Ubaid period. Clay boat models found at Tell Mashnaqa along the Khabur indicate that riverine transport was already practiced during this period. The
Uruk period The Uruk period (ca. 4000 to 3100 BC; also known as Protoliterate period) existed from the protohistoric Protohistory is a period between prehistory and history during which a culture or civilization has not yet developed writing, but other cult ...
, roughly coinciding with the 4th millennium BCE, saw the emergence of truly
urban Urban means "related to a city". In that sense, the term may refer to: * Urban area, geographical area distinct from rural areas * Urban culture, the culture of towns and cities. Urban may also refer to: General * Urban (name), a list of people ...
settlements across Mesopotamia. Cities like
Tell Brak Tell Brak (Nagar, Nawar) was an ancient city in Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱل ...
and
Uruk Uruk, also known as Warka, was an ancient city of (and later of ) situated east of the present bed of the River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern , , .Harmansah, 2007 Uruk is the for the . Uruk played a leading ...
grew to over in size and displayed monumental architecture. The spread of southern Mesopotamian pottery, architecture and sealings far into Turkey and
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
has generally been interpreted as the material reflection of a widespread trade system aimed at providing the Mesopotamian cities with raw materials.
Habuba Kabira Habuba Kabira (Tell Qanas) is the site of an Uruk Uruk, also known as Warka, was an ancient city of (and later of ) situated east of the present bed of the River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern , , .Harmansah ...
on the Syrian Euphrates is a prominent example of a settlement that is interpreted as an Uruk colony.


Ancient history

During the
Jemdet Nasr Jemdet Nasr ( ar, جمدة نصر) is a tell or settlement mound in Babil Governorate (Iraq Iraq ( ar, ٱلْعِرَاق, '; ku, عێراق '), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, ...
(3600–3100 BCE) and Early Dynastic periods (3100–2350 BCE), southern Mesopotamia experienced a growth in the number and size of settlements, suggesting strong population growth. These settlements, including
Sumero-Akkadian Babylonia () was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in central-southern Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοποταμία; Syriac language, Classical Syriac: ...
sites like
Sippar Sippar (: , Zimbir) was an ian and later n city on the east bank of the river. Its ' is located at the site of modern Tell Abu Habbah near in 's , some north of and southwest of . The city's ancient name, Sippar, could also refer to its sis ...
, Uruk, Adab and Kish, were organized in competing
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance la ...
s. Many of these cities were located along canals of the Euphrates and the Tigris that have since dried up, but that can still be identified from
remote sensing Remote sensing is the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon without making physical contact with the object, in contrast to in situ ''In situ'' (; often not italicized in English) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a class ...

remote sensing
imagery. A similar development took place in
Upper Mesopotamia Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the Upland and lowland, uplands and great outwash plain of northwestern Iraq, northeastern Syria and southeastern Turkey, in the northern Middle East. Since the early Muslim conquests of the mid-7th century, ...
,
Subartu The land of Subartu (Akkadian ''Šubartum/Subartum/ina Šú-ba-ri'', Assyrian ''mât Šubarri'') or Subar (Sumerian Su-bir4/Subar/Šubur) is mentioned in Bronze Age literature Before the spread of writing, oral literature did not always survive ...
and
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of We ...

Assyria
, although only from the mid 3rd millennium and on a smaller scale than in Lower Mesopotamia. Sites like
Ebla Ebla (Sumer Sumer ()The name is from '; ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the civilized kings" or "native land". means "native, local", ifrom ''The Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary''). Literally, "land of the native ...

Ebla
,
Mari Mari may refer to: Places *Mari, Paraíba, Brazil, a city *Mari, Cyprus, a village *Mari, Greece, a village, site of ancient town of Marius (Laconia), Marius *Mari, Iran (disambiguation), places in Iran *Mari, Punjab, a village and a union counci ...
and
Tell Leilan Tell Leilan is an archaeological site An archaeological site is a place (or group of physical sites) in which evidence of past activity is preserved (either prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of hum ...

Tell Leilan
grew to prominence for the first time during this period. Large parts of the Euphrates basin were for the first time united under a single ruler during the
Akkadian Empire The Akkadian Empire () was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of ...
(2335–2154 BC) and
Ur III The Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire, refers to a 22nd to 21st century BC (middle chronology The middle chronology is one chronology of the Near Eastern Bronze and Early Iron Age, which fixes the reign of Hammurabi to 179 ...
empires, which controlled – either directly or indirectly through vassals – large parts of modern-day Iraq and northeastern Syria. Following their collapse, the
Old Assyrian Empire The Old Assyrian Empire was the second stage of Assyrian history, covering the history of the city of Assur Aššur (; Sumerian language, Sumerian: AN.ŠAR2KI, Assyrian cuneiform: ''Aš-šurKI'', "City of God Ashur (god), Aššur"; syr, ܐܫ ...
(1975–1750 BCE) and Mari asserted their power over northeast Syria and northern Mesopotamia, while southern Mesopotamia was controlled by city-states like
Isin Isin (, modern Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countrie ...
, Kish and
Larsa Larsa (Sumerian logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures ...
before their territories were absorbed by the newly emerged state of
Babylonia Babylonia () was an and based in central-southern which was part of Ancient Persia (present-day and ). A small -ruled state emerged in 1894 BCE, which contained the minor administrative town of . It was merely a small provincial town dur ...
under
Hammurabi Hammurabi () was the sixth king of the First Babylonian dynasty The First Babylonian Empire, or Old Babylonian Empire, is dated to BC – BC, and comes after the end of Sumerian power with the destruction of the Third Dynasty of Ur The ...

Hammurabi
in the early to mid 18th century BCE. In the second half of the 2nd millennium BCE, the Euphrates basin was divided between
Kassite The Kassites () were people of the ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratificatio ...
Babylon in the south and
Mitanni Mitanni (; Hittite cuneiform Hittite cuneiform is the implementation of cuneiform script Cuneiform is a logo- syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the ear ...

Mitanni
, Assyria and the
Hittite Empire The Hittites () were an Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing first a kingdom in Kussara before 1750 BC, then the Kanesh or Nesha kingdom (c. 1750–1650 BC), and next an empire centered on Hattusa Hattusa (also ...

Hittite Empire
in the north, with the
Middle Assyrian Empire The Middle Assyrian Empire is the period in the history of Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَ ...
(1365–1020 BC) eventually eclipsing the Hittites, Mitanni and Kassite Babylonians. Following the end of the Middle Assyrian Empire in the late 11th century BCE, struggles broke out between Babylonia and Assyria over the control of the Iraqi Euphrates basin. The
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disam ...

Neo-Assyrian Empire
(935–605 BC) eventually emerged victorious out of this conflict and also succeeded in gaining control of the northern Euphrates basin in the first half of the 1st millennium BCE. In the centuries to come, control of the wider Euphrates basin shifted from the Neo-Assyrian Empire (which collapsed between 612 and 599 BC) to the short lived
Median Empire bas-relief Relief is a sculptural technique in which the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The term ''wikt:relief, relief'' is from the Latin verb ''relevo'', to raise. To create a sculpture in ...

Median Empire
(612–546 BC) and equally brief
Neo-Babylonian Empire The Neo-Babylonian Empire, also known as the Second Babylonian Empire and historically known as the Chaldean Empire, was the last of the Mesopotamian empires to be ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. Beginning with Nabopolassar's coronation as ...

Neo-Babylonian Empire
(612–539 BC) in the last years of the 7th century BC, and eventually to the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and offi ...

Achaemenid Empire
(539–333 BC). The Achaemenid Empire was in turn overrun by
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
, who defeated the last king
Darius III Darius III ( peo, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁, translit=Dārayavaʰuš; grc, Δαρεῖος, translit=Dareîos; New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the final stage of the Persian l ...

Darius III
and died in Babylon in 323 BCE. Subsequent to this, the region came under the control of the
Seleucid Empire The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), off ...
(312–150 BC),
Parthian Empire The Parthian Empire (), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major political and cultural power in from 247 BC to 224 AD. Its latter name comes from its founder, , who led the tribe in conquering the region of in 's northeast, ...

Parthian Empire
(150–226 AD) (during which several
Neo-Assyrian The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform: ''mat Aš-šur KI'', "Country of the Assur, city of Ashur (god), god Aššur"; also phonetically ''mat Aš-šur'') was an Iron Age Mesopotamian empire, in existence between 911 and 609 BC, and becam ...
states such as
Adiabene Adiabene (from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ...
came to rule certain regions of the Euphrates), and was fought over by the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
, its succeeding
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
and the Sassanid Empire (226–638 AD), until the Islamic conquest of the mid 7th century AD. The Battle of Karbala took place near the banks of this river in 680 AD. In the north, the river served as a border between Kingdom of Armenia (antiquity), Greater Armenia (331 BC–428 AD) and Lesser Armenia (the latter became a Roman province in the 1st century BC).


Modern era

After World War I, the borders in Southwest Asia were redrawn in the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), when the Ottoman Empire was partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, partitioned. Clause 109 of the treaty stipulated that the three riparian states of the Euphrates (at that time Turkey, France for its French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon, Syrian mandate and the United Kingdom for its British Mandate of Mesopotamia, mandate of Iraq) had to reach a mutual agreement on the use of its water and on the construction of any hydraulic installation. An agreement between Turkey and Iraq signed in 1946 required Turkey to report to Iraq on any hydraulic changes it made on the Tigris–Euphrates river system, and allowed Iraq to construct dams on Turkish territory to manage the flow of the Euphrates. The river featured on the coat of arms of Iraq from 1932 to 1959. Turkey and Syria completed their first dams on the Euphrates – the Keban Dam and the Tabqa Dam, respectively – within one year of each other and filling of the reservoirs commenced in 1975. At the same time, the area was hit by severe drought and river flow toward Iraq was reduced from in 1973 to in 1975. This led to an international crisis during which Iraq threatened to bomb the Tabqa Dam. An agreement was eventually reached between Syria and Iraq after intervention by Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union. A similar crisis, although not escalating to the point of military threats, occurred in 1981 when the Keban Dam reservoir had to be refilled after it had been almost emptied to temporarily increase Turkey's hydroelectricity production. In 1984, Turkey unilaterally declared that it would ensure a flow of at least per second, or per year, into Syria, and in 1987 a bilateral treaty to that effect was signed between the two countries. Another bilateral agreement from 1989 between Syria and Iraq settles the amount of water flowing into Iraq at 60 percent of the amount that Syria receives from Turkey. In 2008, Turkey, Syria and Iraq instigated the Joint Trilateral Committee (JTC) on the management of the water in the Tigris–Euphrates basin and on 3 September 2009 a further agreement was signed to this effect. On 15 April 2014, Turkey began to reduce the flow of the Euphrates into Syria and Iraq. The flow was cut off completely on 16 May 2014 resulting in the Euphrates terminating at the Turkish–Syrian border. This was in violation of an agreement reached in 1987 in which Turkey committed to releasing a minimum of of water per second at the Turkish–Syrian border. During the Syrian civil war and the Iraqi Civil War (2014–2017), Iraqi Civil War, much of the Euphrates was controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Islamic State from 2014 until 2017, when the terrorist group began losing land and was eventually defeated territorially in
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
at the Battle of Baghuz Fawqani, Battle of Baghouz and in Iraq in the 2017 Western Iraq campaign, Western Iraq offensive respectively.


Economy

Throughout history, the Euphrates has been of vital importance to those living along its course. With the construction of large hydropower stations, irrigation schemes, and pipelines capable of transporting water over large distances, many more people now depend on the river for basic amenities such as electricity and drinking water than in the past. Syria's Lake Assad is the most important source of drinking water for the city of Aleppo, to the west of the river valley. The lake also supports a modest state-operated fishing industry. Through a newly restored power line, the Haditha Dam in Iraq provides electricity to Baghdad.


Notes


References

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External links

*
Old maps of the Euphrates
from the Eran Laor Cartographic Collection, The National Library of Israel {{Authority control Euphrates, International rivers of Asia Mesopotamia Rivers of Iraq Rivers of Kurdistan Rivers of Syria Rivers of Turkey Sites along the Silk Road Torah places Tur Abdin Levant Geography of Iraqi Kurdistan Landforms of Şanlıurfa Province Upper Mesopotamia Hebrew Bible rivers