ISTANBUL — An enormous 15th-century tomb in Turkey’s southeast has been moved to make way for a hydroelectric dam on the Tigris river.

Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency said the domed Zeynel Bey Tomb, weighing 1,100 tons, was moved in one piece Friday in four hours, traveling two kilometers (more than a mile) on a large wheeled platform.

The tomb commemorates a fallen warrior, the son of a Turkic ruler, who fought against the Ottomans six centuries ago. The burial chamber itself has long disappeared but the structure built of cut stones is architecturally unique in Turkey, an example of Central Asian influences.

The monument, around 550 years old, was located in the ancient settlement of Hasankeyf, where the majority of villages and historic sites are at risk of being submerged in water when the Ilisu Dam is completed.

Critics say the dam is endangering archaeological and cultural heritage, changing the ecosystem and displacing people.

Construction of the dam and the relocation of the tomb have continued amid an ongoing case at the European Court of Human Rights.

Activists at the Hasankeyf Matters initiative have pointed to the dangers in moving the tomb and called it “an unforgivable and wanton act of cultural heritage destruction.”

The tomb will now be installed in its new location and eight other historic buildings are projected to be moved to the new archaeological site.


This corrects approximate age of tomb to 550 years instead of 600 years in an earlier version.