Dursun  OZDEN (Documentary Director, Research Writer, Travel Writer)

A Documentary movie maker must have a particular point to argue. Some western historians, researchers, journalists and academicians who think in a prejudiced way while talking about Central Asian Turkish people use definitions  like “ nomadic, wild, hunting, war-like, invasive and barbaric people who live in black tents…” There are some people among us too that believe in and welcome these kinds of arguments and approaches. And furthermore, these inclinations which have also took place in official history books have been legitimized. Anatolia being in the first place, in Central Asia and in 66 countries that I have visited I have been tracing for 30 years the water civilization of Turkish culture. 

My research and documentary movies in this direction proves the exact opposite of what have been said and written about those people. Before the sites in the West like Athens, Sparta and Rome appeared, Turkish people in Anatolia, in Asia and in Mesopotamia had built their homeland by the water thanks to their collected public will and the tradition of having a strong and regular army. And where the water didn’t exist, they brought it from far away and through the water tunnels, the engineering wonders (the Kariz) that they dug tens of meters deep underground. There they formed a water culture. Thanks to water, they  internalized  an advanced agriculture, the social culture of settled site life, and the culture of living together. So they became the initiators of settled site life. 

They built the ancient water structures which became the embodiment of strength and splendor.  Our ancestors who brought water into the Turpan Basin,  built the 5100 kilometers long underground water tunnels system  situated 120 meters under the Taklamakan desert for 6000 years. As it can be as well inferred from the results of my studies on “The Uyghur Karizes” these water structures built in accordance with the needs, are wonders of civilization with their architectural design, aesthetic and artistic appearance as well. 

Our Kariz building ancestors in Anatolia built one by one the unique examples of hydrogeolocical calculations, construction techniques and stonemasonry as great works of art. Although they are not functional anymore,  a considerable number of ancient water structures in Anatolia is still alive as our cultural heritage. With this documentary film, it is aimed to discover, to protect, to introduce and to conserve these structures and to draw attention of all. Another objective is to contribute to the development of a consciousness about consuming water highlighting the importance of water and the water structures. On the footsteps of water, our discovery of Anatolian water civilization which will enable to rewrite the human history is going on… We are on the way once again to look through the pages of history and  to share our studies that document the water civilization, particularly the Anatolian Kariz situated in these fertile lands that extend from Samsun to Magosa, from Edirne to Van…

We have been going after the traces of Anatolian Water Culture situated in many cities of Anatolia the cradle of civilization and whose historical roots go back to the Paleolithic Age, 13.000 years before now. Besides, cultural traces on water structures that belong to Sumerian, Hittite, Phrgian, Persian, Akkadian, Urartian, Arabic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman Periods have been defined as mathematical and engineering wonders of a civilized humanity who was conscious of the responsibilities of the age in which he lived. Then to what extent are we, the citizens who have rights and responsibilities conscious of that? Are we aware that water, the source of our living threatens our lives?  

The sun didn’t exist 13 billion years ago the earth didn’t exist 4,5 billion years ago and there wasn’t any water 3 billion years ago. Mankind has existed thanks to water only for 8 million years. We all know that water makes up two third of Earth and the human body. And we are constantly abusing the water which is blood and life to us. How absurd and serious at the same time to remind that there wouldnt be life without water. Water is getting away from us.   Nature is offended, angry and murmuring inwardly. Is water taking the place of oil? Yet the water has always existed. Dirty wars, drought, thirst, hunger, poverty, circumcision of 140 million young girls under unhygienic and droughty conditions… Don’t they just show us the shamefull face of mankind? We should be startled. We should go back to our origins. We should lend an ear to the sound that comes from deep inside our inner world. Instead of being “me and the other one” we should be “us”. 

Despite all those diversities we should internalize the culture of living together. Before it gets consumed, as long as the light of water shines on our faces we should be blessed like water. We should follow on the footsteps of Anatolian civilizations established near water and lived there for thousands of years. In ‘’Anatolia that extends like a mare’s head from Far Asia to Mediterranean’’, in these blessed lands, centering upon love, we should keep them alive. Turkish culture which is the symbol of a strong and collected public will and its historical artifacts ,the wonders of civilization have been waiting for being preserved and kept alive as common heritage of all humankind. Keeping this culture alive is an honour to mankind. Greetings to those fertile lands and towns through which flows water!

Our great ancestors who made watersides their homeland and who were masters at producing early fruit and vegetable by bringing water from underground to the droughty places where the water lacked have been teaching a lesson to contemporary people with their social superstructure institutions such as production, consuming, sharing, solidarity, harvest, folklore, dancing, wedding ceremonies, festivals, invocation, love, peace and the culture of living together despite all the diversities. 

Those ancient people who constructed the Kariz waterway working out %1 and %06 flow elevation slope calculation underground thousands of years ago, in other words, technical applications that helps water flow in its own gravitation, their success at direction finding underground and trigonometrical methods are the indications of how advanced the technical knowledge and discoveries were thousands of years ago. On the other hand, their success at environmental architecture, engineering, geographical, meteorological, geodesic and hydrogeolocical calculations, and their artistic and aesthetical wealth, all aside, this underground waterways system The Kariz-aqueducts, water tanks, cisterns, water gages, water clocks, public fountains, ancient water distribution points- these humanitarian unique structures designed by those ancient people  in accordance with the needs of all social classes, exist only in Anatolian water civilization.

All the ancient structures of water civilization, especially the Anatolian Kariz are not the productions that could have been built by only one person, one family, one ruler, one social class or group. These historically rich structures are the common productions of strong and collected public will. And with their situations today, anywhere, in any geographical region, they are the common cultural heritage of mankind. We should warn the individuals who do not have consciousness of humanity and citizenship, who live just for today without thinking about future, we should warn treasure excavators, international historical artifact smugglers, insensible and uncaring local and managing directors about the issue of preserving this historic richness and consciousness of water consuming. These structures should be kept alive both in nations’ own preservation systems and in UNESCO’S Conservation of World Heritage Project. Visual richness of these structures have been waiting to  be discovered and protected not only as scientific and rational productions but at the same time as inimitable and unique productions of engineering wonders and stonemasonry, a blessed art heritage that touches emotions. This documentary film with its water themed original score, English and Turkish dubbing by the best sound and diction experts, English subtitles and dramatic animations is being produced by a professional team using the best technical equipment thanks to the international standards of TRT.

Anatolian Water Civilization, as a living culture has been a source of inspiration to other cultures that have existed in these fertile lands as well. This civilization has been the source of many epics, tales, legends, mythologies, songs, poems, stories and dances. Many water mythologies still being told in Anatolia have been feeding our living oral and written literature, requiems, lullabies and folk songs. Ferhat’s digging in to the 24 kilometers long mountains in Amasya bringing water to his people at the cost of his own life in order to rejoin his lover Sirin and organize a wedding ceremony which would last for 40 days and 40 nights and circulation of this beautiful legend still today has been continuing the tradition of people suffering from long distance love, that tradition of attaching pieces of clothes to a wish tree by the water. Man is washed by water both at birth and at death. There is water in the beginning and in the end of life. Today it is still possible to see in Bergama the signs proving that Aliano the nymph who once lived there, along with other mentally sick patients, was cured with water and bird sounds. Today, the secrets of 5 thousand years old Hittite Plato’s Spring in Beysehir, God of Fertility in Ivriz-Eregli and the Kariz in Gore-Nevsehir are well known. 

Love stories of nomadic shephards who stood guard over 3 thousand years old and 115 kilometers long Uzuncaburc Geriz in Silifke are still being told repeatedly. What was the function of accordion shaped water clock inside 246 kilometers long aqueducts that extends from Mountains of Istranca to Istanbul and 37 kilometers long Sinan waterway, the most typical example of Ottoman period in Edirne? What was the economical, engineering, hydrogeological and sociological importance of cisterns, aqueducts, water clocks, water gages and ancient water distribution points? Was it milk or water which was poured from Hasan mountain into the pools of Cleopatra, gorgeous like Tyana Aqueducts in Nigde and stirring like The Yesilburc Kariz? Who were purified in The Aphrodite thermal springs on Mount Ida(Kaz) where the first sin was committed, the first love was tasted and the first bribe was given with a golden apple during Troian Era. 

The two Urartian water tunnel workers’ passion for water was defeated by terror in Van? Each one of the ancient water structures that I documented in 66 cities of Anatolia is separately a subject of study and research. What is the secret of the water in Milet, Didim, Side, Klikya, Aspendos, Pamukkale, and Efes? The serenity of the water that shines on our shadow in Nazim Hikmet’s poem “A Tale of Tales”; its reflection as “Istanbul, the city through which water runs” in Fuzuli’s “Ode To Water”, is the best fictional expression of the dialectic transformation in society and nature. Many love stories that begin by springs and fountains, the melodies of the Turkmen shepherds’ love for their fiancées and their admiration of nature and fauna as they bring their flocks to the waterside with the music of their reeds, echo on the slopes where wild horses dance freely. It is customary to drink a glass of cold water after the loss or departure of a loved one. To spill water after someone leaves is to wish for a speedy comeback. In many proverbs, idioms and poems flows the warm, sincere and holy water that feeds the endless and timeless universe…

Our ancestors who made their homes by the water and where the water didn’t exist brought it from many kilometers far away, left us the strategic importance of water the source of our lives, the consciousness of consuming water, advanced agriculture that began with the water that they brought to their living spaces under primitive and difficult circumstances, urban culture of living together, historical roots and common heritage of our civilized society. The culture of Water that they commended to us is an honour to humanity, our indispensable and vital heritage that we are going to pass on to future, to our children. We are aiming first to discover The Anatolian Kariz, ancient water structures said to be the engineering marvels, works of art and culture underground and on earth, then to make them known, to protect them, to keep them alive, to document them as an important touristic potency and to draw the attention of authorities. Our sources of water on earth and underground are drying out. Anatolia is becoming a desert. Blue eye of the water is crying. Revenge of Nature is ruthless. Water, the source of our living threatens our lives. 

Therefore, it’s another issue to contribute to the development of consciousness about water consuming and the protection of ancient water structures, drawing attentions of the State, the local managing directors and the citizens. Attention to the changing climate conditions, destroyed ecological balance, drying lakes and rivers, sinkholes that appeared as a result of the withdrawal of our underground water that was consumed badly without thinking, increasing environmental catastrophes, the soil that is becoming desert, erosion and forest fires. In addition to the dried river beds and lakes in Anatolia, underground water withdrew and many sinkholes have been formed as a result of the boreholes drilled illegally. 

And again as a result of wrong local and foreign agricultural policies, promotion of agricultural products like corn that consume much water instead of cereals is another sign of danger. Besides, We travelled around Anatolia in order to make this documentary film  in accordance to the opinions and explanations, suggestions and ways to solutions of academicians, experts, researchers and citizens and to draw attention of the general viewers and authorities first of all to the water structures, bridges, mosques, villages, culture, history and agricultural spaces which stayed under the drainage basins of  some hydroelectric power stations as in Bergama, Aliana, Van, Mardin, Urfa, Halfeti, Hasankeyf, Bafra, Amasya, Kolay, Yusufeli, Kayseri, Nevsehir, Nigde, Konya, Ermenek and some other places, then to the increasing strategic importance of water as a result of consuming it too much.

It is our primary objective to protect the natural environment especially the ancient water structures and sources which is our cultural heritage. The privilege of testifying the meeting and speaking of History and Nature with each other will be encouraged. We will say hello once again to the consciousness of consuming water and to living together with The Kariz, the system of underground water tunnels and the Anatolian water civilization. We are going on the footsteps of water in order to stay by the water and to be blessed like water.

On the other hand, we will try to place it within the scope of discovery, protection, advertising of the ancient water structures (water tunnels), water civilizations in Anatolia and in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, in the ministries of water and environment in Turkey and The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, in the ministry of Culture and Tourism and in the map of subject oriented water tourism of UNESCO’s archaeological world heritage sites list. We will draw the attentions of national and international media, universities and the public opinion. We will contribute to the development of a consciousness about water consuming among citizens, authorities, administrative and local managements. We will encourage to be “ blessed like water.” With this project, we are aiming to document and introduce, utilizing a different dramatic discourse and visual quality, the ancient water structures in Anatolia and Northern Cyprus, those structures which are alternative touristic potencies.

Dursun Ozden who has 36 published books, and several awards, president of supervisory board of Documentary Film-makers Association, International Relations Representative of Turkish Writers’ Union, documentary movie director and the person who has brought forward the reality of The Kariz-system of underground water tunnels which means working and waterway as well as snow mark is a member of World Federation of Travel Journalists& Writers, Turkish Association of Journalists, press council and International PEN. Özden has been documenting his impressions and observations on 99 countries, Mediterranean and Anatolian lands that he has visited as a travel writer and research journalist for 40 years. He has been taking photos that speak and tell stories. For the last 20 years he has been working as a producer and director. In light of the findings and documents that he discovers, he is contributing to the rewriting of the history of humanity. 

After his book “A Voyage to the Uyghur Kariz” that he wrote in 2004 in China / Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the 2009 documentary “The Uyghur Kariz” and the 2010 documentary ” Bridge of Civilizations: The Anatolian Kariz “ made a big impact at the 5th World Water Forum, Organization of Islamic Conference-ISEDAC Mediterranean Civilization Conference in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, exhibitions at universities and the 2nd Istanbul International Water Forum. The 13-episode documentary called “Anatolian Water Civilization”, shot in 66 cities of Turkey and to be shown on TRT in 2011-2012, has been included in the program of the “IWA Specialized Conference on Water and Wastewater Technologies in Ancient Civilizations” activity as an international conference subject. 

Next on the agenda are the documentaries “The Holy Water of Zamzam” whose project has been completed, and “World Water Civilization-Stairs of the World” which he identified in 33 countries. Duty calls on everyone to protect the “water”-centered rich common cultural heritage with our lives. There is no point in gloating over debt and blood. It is for your own future interest to participate in these self-sacrificing, patriotic and friend-of-the-earth projects. Act now to witness yesterday and today, and to leave a watery and livable world heritage to tomorrow.


  • The Holy Water of Zamzam
  • The Makkah Aqueduct 

Yoruma kapalı.

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