The Tigris-Euphrates river system is very important to ancient civilizations, historians, and the major world religions because of the significant occurrences near it over a period in history. The word Tigris came from ancient Persian word Tigra meaning “like an arrow” or “fast” and, additionally, it defines the region formerly known as Mesopotamia (“land between the rivers” in ancient Greek). The Tigris River has been in existence for thousands of years even as boundaries and jurisdictions evolved. With a length of 1,181 miles, this river is the second largest in Western Asia and continues to meet the social economic needs of many people.
Current Location of Tigris River
The Tigris River runs through three countries namely Turkey, Syria, and Iraq and has many other tributaries flowing into it from the three countries and Iran. With the source in the Taurus Mountains of Turkey, 15.53 miles from Elazig, this river flows for 248.55 miles inside Turkey towards the Turkey -Syria border. From this point, the river forms the border between the two countries for 27.34 miles (Syria’s only share of the Tigris River) then enters Iraq where it splits into several river channels, one of which joins the Euphrates. Of importance is that a small portion of the river touches the Iranian border with Iraq but does not cross into the country although Iran hosts several of its tributaries. Iraqi capital of Baghdad sits on the banks of the Tigris, therefore, confirming the narrative that the city may have rose as a result of plenty of water for irrigation and consumption. Other cities bordering the Tigris are the Ezraitic and Christian ages Nineveh, Ctesiphon, and Seleucia. The Tigris and Euphrates naturally converge in Qurna, Iraq then empties into the Persian Gulf along the Iranian border although there are several canals constructed within Iraq that join the two rivers.
Threats Faced by the Tigris River
Running through a vast region of mostly arid areas and in this age of globalization, the Tigris River faces several environmental threats and challenges from development activities that have seen the decrease in water volume and biodiversity. Iraq and Turkey have put in place major projects like dams, irrigation schemes, and diversions over the last 40 years consequently reducing the volume of water in the river. Intensive irrigation and use of fertilizers have deteriorated the water quality whereas the climatic conditions have increased evaporation rates. Other effluents from these countries have also found their way into the river further endangering the plant and animal life.
Facts About the Tigris River
The Tigris River was very important to ancient civilization and to the current century, it has defined many battles and development projects. Currently, the river has 55 confirmed fish species though researchers believe that this number was more and attribute the decline to pollution and other human activities. Covering a massive 144,788 square miles in area, this river gets water from melting snow, winter rains as well as tributaries like the Diyala, Little Zab, Great Zab, and Uzaym. Because of the shorter length of the Tigris, it floods a month earlier than the Euphrates even though this flooding is very unpredictable.
Mentions of the Tigris River in the Bible
The Bible has several mentions of the Tigris river notably in the book of Genesis and there is a common belief that both Tigris and Euphrates rivers divided Mesopotamia from end to end. Though many people believe that the Garden of Eden is mythological, Genesis 2:10-14 puts this garden between the Tigris (flowing to the east of Ashur) and Euphrates rivers near the point at which the two drains into the ocean. Daniel 10:4 also mentions that Daniel once stood on the bank of the great River Tigris.
About the Author
Mark is a student at Maseno University and community commentator in Kenya. Mark also has interests in geography, African history, and international development.
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