Sat 6 Sep, 2008 03:22 pm
The Cradle of Civilization was established between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers in what is now modern Iraq. Here is the area where many believe the Garden of Eden was set. For 5000 years, the Marsh Arabs, or Maˤdān, have lived in their unique way. Before settling in the marshes, these Arabs' origins are uncertain. Some cultural traditions link them to Indians and Persians, to Bedouin and Sumerians.
In the 1950s, those in power in Iraq channeled water out of the marshes for use elsewhere. In the early 1990s, Saddam Hussein drained the marshes to punish the largely Shia population after the Shia uprising. The drying up of the marshes nearly destroyed an ancient way of life. It also severely disrupted a major North-South bird migration route between Africa and Europe.
In 2003, efforts began to restore the marshlands to benefit both the Marsh Arabs and the migrating bird populations. Today, those efforts are bearing sort of stunted fruits. Upriver channeling of water from the two rivers prevent historic levels of water from reaching the marshes. The water that does arrive is often polluted and saline. Birds will likely return, but the Maˤdān have largely left the area. The ancient lifestyle, abundant thousands of years ago, is now harsh and impoverished.
These pictures are fascinating. Do you know if they're "before" or "after"?
Good question. I don't know.
edit: looks like 'before' in 1964.
I wonder how they do those clusters, too. The one in the panorama shot looks like something deliberate, perhaps an assembly of rafts. But this seems contradicted by the rowing boat docking at them, and by the close-up shot, which shows the houses to be on solid ground. I can't quite wrap my head around these clusters. Thanks for giving me something to think about.
Ah! Didn't see your update there. What a shame this civilization has been destroyed!
Here's one from (I think) 2001:
At this point, I think that the recovery has flooded around 50% of the 1970s water level. So, photos show both areas with water and 'life' and those with dry, baked and cracked earth.
Can you say anything about fish populations? I imagine that they used to be a large part of the Marsh Arab's diet, but that their population has een greatly reduced by the salinity and the pollution in the water. Is that the case? And if so, how big of a problem is it for the Marsh Arabs?
an act of rape of the land and destruction of culture that goes unnoticed only because the crimes committed by this man are so horrible that this event is less worthy than the others of time. Saddam is the one who gassed the kurds, set the oil fields on fire spewing oil onto the earthy and damaging the future ability to pump the oil out of the ground, destroyed the iraqi intelligentsia, got multiple tens of thousands of soldiers killed for no purpose, impoverished a nation, .........
a very interesting book book about the people living in the marshlands of iraq was written by RORY STEWART .
The Prince of the Marshes
And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq
In August 2003, at the age of thirty, Rory Stewart took a taxi from Jordan to Baghdad. A Farsi-speaking British diplomat, he spent the next eleven months negotiating hostage releases, holding elections, and splicing together some semblance of an infrastructure for a population of millions teetering on the brink of civil war. The Prince of the Marshes tells the story of Stewart's year.
i very much enjoyed reading his books and posted some comments about a year ago on the IRAQ thread .
since our local library purchased his books , i didn't even have to buy them (cheapskate !) .
rory stewart has been interviewed on CBC-TV . certainly a very interesting fellow who has seen - and lived in - parts of the world i'll never see .
see also : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rory_Stewart