Road Trip Through Upper Mesopotamia, or Northern Kurdistan

Old buildings, archaeological sites, and ruins excite me – I am fascinated by history because it can be a great source of inspiration. Our past defines us: we largely live according to customs and traditions that were passed down to us, traditions started by our ancestors. It takes a great deal of effort to change established customs and traditions. The efforts required are so significant that they often turn into movements – movements that will face fierce resistance.

Why do traditions we did not create but were merrily “born into” have such a significant impact on us? Why do we care about preserving (or perhaps destroying) traditions?

This is just one example of how the past defines and influences our lives. But there are more obvious examples, such as commemorations of events we did not experience and religious holidays. Or the way we dress, the language(s) we speak, the food we eat, and the people we choose to befriend.

If you look for it, you will find the past everywhere.

The 21-rayed Kurdish Sun.

However, everything has a beginning. Traditions and religions did not come falling from the sky (religions may have, though). To be more specific: human civilization has a starting point that we are more or less certain of and it is tied to a geography: MESOPOTAMIA.

Mesopotamia means “The Land between the Two Rivers“, the two rivers being the Tigris and the Euphrates. It was along the banks of these rivers where humans first organized their societies and gave urban life shape and form. It was here, a very long time ago, where our ancestors transitioned from a hunter-gatherer society to an agricultural one.

The sources of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are located in Northern Kurdistan, a historic and cultural region that corresponds with present-day South-Eastern Turkey. However, Mesopotamia is larger than this region and covers all the land that lies between the aforementioned rivers. Today, these lands are part of Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. Some of the world’s oldest urban centers and archaeological sites are located in Upper Mesopotamia, a Kurdish region.

My roots are in Mesopotamia, but prior to this road trip, I had never truly traveled these lands. The region has been plagued by wars and other forms of instability for centuries, so traveling there was and is not easy. I decided that if I waited for conditions to improve, I may never see it. So in the summer of 2019, I just went for it.

My Mesopotamia Travelogue consists of six entries with plenty of information, photos, and videos. You can find links to the relevant entries and a custom map of my itinerary below.

Enjoy reading my travelogue and discovering this undeservedly little known part of the world!

Road Trip Destinations & Route

Click on the image below to view an interactive version of the map in greater detail (link opens in a new tab).

Click on the map to view an interactive version of the map in greater detail (link will open in a new tab).

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