|A Walker's Guide to Hasankeyf|
The idea for a new walking guide started with archeologist and Hasankeyf native Necdet Talayhan as a way to spotlight the treasures that lie beyond the Citadel (closed to visitors in 2012). Necdet’s detailed map of Hasankeyf’s archeological sites not only piqued the interest of the Batman Museum (which went on to publish a new map focusing on the Lower City), but it also inspired Istanbul-based Canadian artist Melanie Mehrer.
The result is version 1.0 of the Walker’s Guide to Hasankeyf. “Everything that’s on the map,” notes Melanie, “can be found in Hasankeyf – the stork, the hoopoe, the mountain goats, sheep, fish, poppies, thistle . . . ”
“It’s a kind of miniature,” says Melanie, referring to the Islamic tradition of textual illumination, “and like a miniature, it tells a story.” The story of Hasankeyf, situated between the Tigris River and the sheer cliffs at the northern edge of the Tur Abdin Plateau, is a very long one – stretching back 12,000 years.
Necdet describes a walk through Hasankeyf as “a kind of time travel – in a single day you look across history – past, present and future side by side.”
Many are struck by the “magic” of Hasankeyf. Marta Marszal, the Polish designer responsible for the graphic design and layout of the guide, recalls camping on the edge of Hasankeyf, “with an amazing starry sky above and surrounded by rocks, cows and goats . . . And in the morning,” Marta adds, “we woke to discover caves all around us.”
Despite this magic, too many visitors miss 80 percent of what Hasankeyf has to offer due to the lack of tourist information. “The lower city contains more than 100 archeological monuments and sites,” observes Necdet. “Mosques, madrasahs, khans, baths, churches, cave dwellings, mansions and palaces, public kitchens, ceramics kilns, old graveyards and zaviyes [tombs of spiritual leaders], as well as a Neolithic mound dating to the time when people first began living in organized settlements.”
The guide published here is schematic. It’s designed to provoke the imagination, to prompt questions and conversation. Anyone interested in learning more the town’s archeological monuments and nature trails should also consult Hasankeyf Matters’ photos and annotations (prepared by John Crofoot) on GoogleMaps My Places.
These maps are just the beginning of what we hope will be a long and fruitful effort to mark and chart walking trails in and around Hasankeyf. In the meantime, we encourage anyone who really wants to see Hasankeyf and understand its culture to explore the town and its surroundings with a local guide who has grown up exploring the town, its canyons and who knows the currents of the river.
And please note Necdet’s final advice to visitors: “Don’t cut your visit short.” Hasankeyf rewards those who take their time. May time, in turn, reward Hasankeyf.
Special thanks to Melanie Mehrer, Marta Marszal, Necdet Talayhan, Jonathan Lewis, Zeki Yemez, Helen Southcott, Jennifer Hattam, Egemen Demircioğlu, Dan Tucker and John Crofoot.