The construction of dams and their impact on cultural heritage are an ever-expanding problem, the more so in times of climate change and narrowly focused development policies. We analyze here a case study represented by three major reservoirs in the Middle Euphrates valley in southeastern Turkey (Atatürk, Birecik and Karkamış). We applied Post-Flooding Damage Assessment (SSHD/PFDA) to evaluate the impact of dams on archaeological sites. Our PFDA consists of the analysis of cross-correlation of multi-temporal Landsat imagery, geographical spatial datasets and archaeological data from surveys and excavations: it provides an unprecedented, detailed overview of the loss of especially significant cultural landscapes, and also highlights the limited accuracy of pre-flooding archaeological surveys and excavations. Finally, we suggest an efficient methodology, a critical tool and recommendations for improving future designs of rescue archaeological projects targeting endangered cultural landscapes, with an immediately achievable target of a better-documented cultural heritage threatened by dams. In particular, we see a need to strengthen the existing legislation with specific working protocols providing guidelines on the identification, documentation and safeguard of the cultural heritage. These protocols must be supported by the state, which in turn must require their implementation by the bodies involved in the construction of the dams, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank or the Inter-American Development Bank. In order to monitor the quality of whole work, the Turkish government should create a commission of international experts in the field of heritage with the purpose of monitoring the various projects from the proposal phase to completion of the last protocol.
Dams, Turkey, Archaeological Sites, Cultural Heritage, Landsat Imagery, Policies