The Centre for River Nations
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LEVANT

(Listed in rough order of human occupation.)


Euphrates


Tigris
 









Euphrates 


Length:  3,596 km / 2,235 miles
Catchment:  ?? km2 / ?? miles2,

The Euphrates, with its sister the Tigris, formed the cradle of human civilisation.  Their fertile banks and valleys formed the perfect springboard for developing centralised agricultural economies and the capacity for close proximity dwelling in large numbers. 

This was the heartland of the first great urban civilisations - Mesopotamia, the stomping grounds of the Sumerians, Chaldeans, Babylonians, and Assyrians.  The Sumerians called it Buranunu; the Babylonians, Purattu; the Persians, Ufrat - all of which mean "Great River".  The current name is estimated to date from 450 BC. 

Like the Tigris, the Euphrates rises in the mountains of Turkey where it is called Kara or Firat Su as it tumbles down the deep gorges.  It is joined by the Murat Su and rolls on into Syria where it runs through a fairly narrow trench section, bordered on both sides by harsh desert. Further on it is joined by the Balikh and Khabur Rivers where significant agriculture has been developing for millennia.

Still 750km from the sea, the Euphrates delta is already starting to take shape.  With its sister Tigris, it formed the verdant alluvial plain which bustled with life for uncountable generations but is now, for the most part, virtually desert.  It passes through Lake Hammar and then joins with the Tigris proper to form the Shatt al Arab.  Here too is where the ancient city of Ur - reckoned by many to be the world's oldest city - can be found and where Babylon itself was once located. 

Where the water enters the sea, there is plentiful and varied sea life.

Tributaries
Murat Su, Balikh, Khabur

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Tigris


Length:  1,900 km / 1,181 miles
Catchment:  ?? km2 / ?? miles2,

The Tigris, with its sister the Euphrates, formed the cradle of human civilisation.  Their fertile banks and valleys formed the perfect springboard for developing centralised agricultural economies and the capacity for close proximity dwelling in large numbers. 

The Tigris commences its run to the sea as the outlet for Lake Golcuk in the Kurdish regions of Turkey.  Not far, as it happens, from where its sister emerges.  It flows southeast through fairly barren landscape along the border between Turkey and Syria before plunging straight into what is currently Iraq.  There it passes by the ruins of the capital of the Assyrian empire - Nineveh - for a distance of about 5 km.

Further on the river is joined by the Great and Lesser Zab Rivers and then enters the great Tigris-Euphrates Plain.  Here are more ruins of yet more Mesopotamian cities - the heartland of the emergent urban cultures - and the water continues to descend, south south east, to Baghdad.  From here the river sends out a branch - the Shatt al Gharraf - to join the Euphrates.  Later, at Al Qurnah, the Tigris itself joins with the Euphrates.  It is here that many believe the Garden of Eden is located.  The combined river is referred to as the Shatt al Arab as it continues the remaining 200 km through the marshy delta lands.

Tributaries
Greater and Lesser Zab, Shatt al Gharraf

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