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Khabur River

Khabur River

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The Khabur River is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

 in Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

n territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra's al-'Ayn
Ra's al-'Ayn
Ra's al-'Ayn is a Syrian city administratively belonging to Al-Hasakah Governorate. Ra's al-'Ayn has an altitude of 360 m. It has a population of 55,247, many of them being Assyrian/Syriacs, Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Chechens, or Syrian Turkmen. There is a border crossing to Ceylanpınar in Turkey...

 are the river's main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah

, together creating what is known as the Khabur Triangle, or Upper Khabur area. From north to south, annual rainfall in the Khabur basin decreases from over 400 mm to less than 200 mm, making the river a vital water source for agriculture throughout history. The Khabur joins the Euphrates near the town of Busayrah
Busayrah is a town in eastern Syria, situated at the confluence of the Euphrates and Khabur Rivers. It was once known in Latin as Circesium....



The course of the Khabur can be divided in two distinct zones: the Upper Khabur area or Khabur Triangle north of Al-Hasakah, and the Middle and Lower Khabur between Al-Hasakah and Busayrah.


The tributaries to the Khabur are listed from east to west. Most of these wadi
Wadi is the Arabic term traditionally referring to a valley. In some cases, it may refer to a dry riverbed that contains water only during times of heavy rain or simply an intermittent stream.-Variant names:...

s only carry water for part of the year.
  • Wadi Radd
    Wadi Radd
    The Wadi Radd is a tributary of the Khabur River in Syria. Halaba lies near its bank....

  • Wadi Khnezir
  • Wadi Jarrah
    Wadi Jarrah

  • Jaghjagh River
    Jaghjagh River
    - Source :The river has two sources. The longer branch, known as Siyahsu , rises near the villaqe of Toptepe in Mardin Province, Turkey, and flows 10km to the confluence with the shorter branch, known as Beyazsu .- Course :The river crosses into Syria near the cities of Nusaybin and Al-Qamishli...

  • Wadi Khanzir
  • Wadi Avedji


Since the 1930s, numerous archaeological excavations and survey
Archaeological field survey
Archaeological field survey is the method by which archaeologists search for archaeological sites and collect information about the location, distribution and organization of past human cultures across a large area...

s have been carried out in the Khabur Valley, indicating that the region has been occupied since the Lower Palaeolithic period. Important sites that have been excavated include Tell Halaf
Tell Halaf
Tell Halaf is an archaeological site in the Al Hasakah governorate of northeastern Syria, near the Turkish border, just opposite Ceylanpınar. It was the first find of a Neolithic culture, subsequently dubbed the Halaf culture, characterized by glazed pottery painted with geometric and animal designs...

, Tell Brak
Nagar, Syria
Tell Brak, ancient Nagar, is a tell, or settlement mound, in the Upper Khabur area in Al-Hasakah Governorate, northeastern Syria. The site was occupied between the sixth and second millennia BCE...

, Tell Leilan
Tell Leilan
Tell Leilan is an archaeological site situated near the Wadi Jarrah in the Khabur River basin in Al-Hasakah Governorate, northeastern Syria. The site has been occupied since the 5th millennium BC. During the late third millennium, the site was known as Shekhna...

, Tell Mashnaqa
Tell Mashnaqa
Tell Mashnaqa is an archaeological site located on the Khabur River, a tributary to the Euphrates, about south of Al-Hasakah in northeastern Syria. The site dates from the Ubaid period , and was excavated by a Danish team from 1990–1995 in four seasons.-Overview:The tell, now flooded by the...

, Tell Mozan
Urkesh or Urkish is a tell, or settlement mound, located in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains in Al-Hasakah Governorate, northeastern Syria...

 and Tell Barri
Tell Barri
Tell Barri is an archaeological site in north-eastern Syria inthe Al-Hasakah Governorate. Its ancient name was Kahat as proved by a threshold found on the south-western slope of the mound....

. The region has given its name to a distinctive painted ware found in northern Mesopotamia
Al-Jazira, Mesopotamia
Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain of northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria and southeastern Turkey which is known by the traditional Arabic name of Al-Jazira , variously transliterated into Roman script as Djazirah, Djezirah and Jazirah...

 and Syria in the early 2nd millennium BCE, called Khabur ware
Khabur ware
Khabur ware is a specific type of pottery named after the Khabur River region, in northeastern Syria, where large quantities of it were found by the archaeologist Max Mallowan at the site of Chagar Bazar. The pottery's distribution is not confined to the Khabur region, but spreads across northern...

. The region of the Khabur River is also associated with the rise of the kingdom of the Mitanni
Mitanni or Hanigalbat was a loosely organized Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and south-east Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC...

 that flourished c.1500-1300 BC.

Modern Khabur River Valley

The Khabur River Project, begun in the 1960s, involved the construction of a series of dam
A dam is a barrier that impounds water or underground streams. Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. Hydropower and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are...

s and canal
Canals are man-made channels for water. There are two types of canal:#Waterways: navigable transportation canals used for carrying ships and boats shipping goods and conveying people, further subdivided into two kinds:...

s. Three dams have been constructed in the Khabur Basin as part of a large irrigation scheme that also includes the Tabqa Dam on the Euphrates. Two dams, Hasakah West and Hasakah East, have been constructed on tributaries to the Khabur between Ra's al-'Ayn and Al-Hasakah. The capacity of the reservoir of Hasakah West is 0.09 km3; that of Hasakah East is 0.2 km3. A third dam, Hassakeh South, was constructed on the Khabur 25 km south of Al-Hassakeh. The reservoir of this dam has a capacity of 0.7 km3. The Khabur Valley, which now has about four million acres (16,000 km²) of farmland, is Syria's main wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

-cultivation area. The northeastern part is also the center for Syria's oil production.