Tishrin Dam

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Tishrin Dam
View of Qal'at Najm from the south.jpg
Qal'at Najm, once perched on a hilltop overlooking the Euphrates Valley but now on the shore of the Tishrin Dam reservoir
Tishrin Dam is located in Syria
Tishrin Dam
Location of Tishrin Dam
Official name سد تشرين
Location Aleppo Governorate, Syria
Coordinates 36°22′53″N 38°11′00″E / 36.38139°N 38.18333°E / 36.38139; 38.18333Coordinates: 36°22′53″N 38°11′00″E / 36.38139°N 38.18333°E / 36.38139; 38.18333
Construction began 1991
Opening date 1999
Dam and spillways
Impounds Euphrates
Height 40 m (131 ft)
Reservoir
Creates Tishrin Dam Reservoir
Total capacity 1.3 km3 (0.3 cu mi)
Power station
Turbines 6
Installed capacity 630 MW

The Tishrin Dam (Arabic: سد تشرين‎, literally October Dam) is a dam on the Euphrates, located 90 kilometres (56 mi) east of Aleppo in Aleppo Governorate, Syria. The dam is 40 metres (130 ft) high and has 6 water turbines capable of producing 630 MW. Construction lasted between 1991 and 1999. Rescue excavations in the area that would be flooded by the dam's reservoir have provided important information on ancient settlement in the area from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) period upward.

In November 2012, rebel fighters captured the dam from government forces of President Bashar al-Assad in a battle of the Syrian civil war.[1]

Characteristics of the dam and the reservoir[edit]

The Tishrin Dam is a hydroelectric rock-fill dam on the Euphrates, located upstream from the much larger Tabqa Dam.[2] The dam is 40 metres (130 ft) high and has 6 turbines capable of producing 630 MW. Annual power production of the Tishrin Dam is expected to be 1.6 billion kilowatt hour.[3] The capacity of the 60 kilometres (37 mi) long reservoir is 1.3 cubic kilometres (0.31 cu mi), which is small compared to the capacity of Lake Assad of 11.7 cubic kilometres (2.8 cu mi) directly downstream from the Tishrin Dam.[4] Apart from the Euphrates, the Tishrin Dam reservoir is also fed by the Sajur River.

Construction started in 1991 and was completed in 1999. One reason for the construction of the Tishrin Dam was the lower than expected power output of the hydroelectrical power station at the Tabqa Dam.[5] This disappointing performance can be attributed to the lower than expected water flow in the Euphrates as it enters Syria from Turkey. Lack of maintenance may also have been a cause.[6] The Tishrin Dam is the last of three dams that Syria has built on the Euphrates. The other two dams are the Tabqa Dam, finished in 1973, and the Baath Dam, finished in 1986. Syria currently plans to build a fourth dam on the Euphrates between Ar-Raqqah and Deir ez-Zor – the Halabiye Dam.[7]

Rescue excavations in the Tishrin Dam Reservoir region[edit]

The Tishrin Dam Reservoir has flooded an area in which numerous archaeological sites were located. To preserve or document as much information from these sites as possible, archaeological excavations were carried out at 15 of them during construction of the dam.[8][9] Among the oldest excavated and now flooded sites is Jerf el-Ahmar, where a French mission worked between 1995 and 1999. Their work revealed that the site had been occupied between 9200 and 8700 BC at the end of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A period and the beginning of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B. In its multiple occupation phases, the site contained a sequence of round and rectangular buildings. In the later occupation levels of the site, a number of buildings have been excavated that were partly dug into the soil and had stone walls. Their size, internal division, decoration and the finds of human skulls as foundation deposits led the excavators to suggest that these buildings had a communal function.[10] These finds were deemed so important that in 1999, flooding of the Tishrin Dam Reservoir was postponed for two weeks so that three houses could be dismantled and rebuilt in a museum near the site.[11][12]

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