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Map of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers

Map of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers

location Turkey , Syria , Iraq
River system Tigris
Drain over Shatt al-Arab  → Persian Gulf
Confluence of Maggot Çayı and Dibni Çayı ( Dicle Dam )
38 ° 13 ′ 49 ″  N , 40 ° 10 ′ 34 ″  E
Association with Euphrates near Al-Qurnah to Shatt al-Arab Coordinates: 31 ° 0 ′ 20 ″  N , 47 ° 26 ′ 29 ″  E 31 ° 0 ′ 20 ″  N , 47 ° 26 ′ 29 ″  E

length 1900 km
Catchment area 375,000 km²
Drain MQ
1014 m³ / s
Left tributaries Anbarçayı , Kuruçay , Pamukçayı , Hazroçayı , Batman , Garzan , Botan , Hezil , Chabur , Großer Zab , Kleiner Zab , Diyala , Lesky
Right tributaries Göksu , Baglica , Savur
Reservoirs flowed through Dicle Dam , Mosul Dam , Ilisu Dam (planned)
Big cities Diyarbakır , Mosul , Tikrit , Samarra , Baghdad , Amarah , Kut
Medium-sized cities Bismil , Cizre
Small towns Hasankeyf
The Tigris near Diyarbakır

The Tigris near Diyarbakır

Bedouins cross the Tigris (around 1860)

Bedouins cross the Tigris (around 1860)

Changes in the course of the river near the twin cities of Seleukia-Ctesiphon

Changes in the course of the river near the twin cities of Seleukia-Ctesiphon

Tigris, Êlih

The Tigris is a 1900 kilometer long river in the Middle East . It arises at the confluence of the maggots Çayı and Dibni Çayı , which are dammed by the Dicle dam . The source rivers originate in the southeastern Taurus in eastern Turkey . The Tigris runs in a southerly and later in an easterly direction through the province of Diyarbakır . Later it forms the border with Syria over a short distance . Then the Tigris flows through Iraq and merges there with the Euphrates to form the Shatt al-Arab , which flows into the Persian Gulf . Together with the Euphrates, the Tigris, whose catchment area covers 375,000 km² , forms the Mesopotamian region , in which some of the first advanced civilizations developed.

The name Tigris

In the languages ​​of the region, the river has the following names: Sumerian idigna , Akkadian Idiglat , Aramaic : Deqlath , Didschla , old Persian : Tigrā , Arabic دجلة Didschla , DMG Diǧla , Hebrew : חידקל, Hiddekel or Chidekel , Armenian Տիգրիս Tigris , Turkish Dicle and in Kurdish Dîcle . The name Ditjle is used in many countries in the Middle East. The names Tigris or Tikrit are also used.

In Sumerian id means "river", so the name can be broken down as id-igna . Since on the one hand a similar Sumerian word igira "heron" is used and on the other hand the cuneiform character for idigna in its oldest form could be interpreted as an image of a heron, the name can possibly be translated as "heron river" according to J. Keetman.

The old Persian name of the Tigris is Tigrā . Since the river consists of many tributaries, some linguists are of the opinion that Tigris is the plural form of Tigrā , since the plural was formed with an "s" in Old Persian.

Tributaries and source rivers

Left tributaries:

Right tributaries:


Today the headwaters of the Tigris are considered to be the maggot, which has its source south of Elazığ and flows through the Hazar Gölü (also Gölcük Lake ).

The Assyrians , on the other hand, held the Berkilin Çay , which rises south of Bingöl and flows into the Tigris at Eğil (or merges with the maggot to form the Tigris), to be the source river. At the outlet of the Berkilin Çay from a tunnel and on the rock face northeast of it are four inscriptions by Shalmaneser III. with a picture of the king and an inscription from Tiglath-pileser I. The inscription of Shalmanasher proclaims: “I wrote my name at the source of the Tigris” (ina SAG IGI e-ni ÍD.IDIGNA MU al-ṭu-ur).

The Black Obelisk tells how this inscription was placed on Shalmaneser's 7th campaign: I went to the source of the Tigris. I washed the weapon of Ashur , where the water comes out. I sacrificed to my gods and celebrated a festival of joy. I erected a great monument to My Majesty. I wrote on it the glory of Assyria, my lord, and of my heroic campaigns and of all that I had accomplished in the countries. I put it here.

Fords and bridges

In Assyrian times the following Tigris crossings were mainly used:


North of Mosul (Iraq), the Mosul dam dams the Tigris into a lake up to 371 km² in size. The Ilisu Dam, which is under construction (as of 2015), is intended to flood the historic town of Hasankeyf , among other things .

Cultural history

According to the Old Testament, the Tigris is one of the four rivers that water Paradise (Genesis 2.14). According to Epiphanius of Salamis (Ancoratus), the Tigris rises in paradise, which it leaves underground to reappear in Armenia . According to the church history of Philostorgius, the Tigris rises in the Hyrkanisches See, which GR Driver identified with reservations with Lake Van in 1921 . Numerous tributaries flow into Cordiaea , across from Syria .


  • HF Russell, Shalmaneser's campaign to Urartu in 856 BC and the historical geography of Eastern Anatolia according to the Assyrian sources. Anatolian Studies 34, 1984, pp. 171-201.
  • Alessandro Scafi, Mapping Paradise, a history of heaven on earth (London, British Library 2006).
  • Karl Holl (ed.), Epiphanius von Salamis, Ancoratus and Panárion. Vols 1 and 2 (Leipzig, Hinrichs 1915-1922); Vol. 3, ed. v. Hans Lietzmann (Leipzig, Hinrichs 1933).
  • O. Aytuǧ Taşyürek, Some New Assyrian rock-reliefs in Turkey. Anatolian Studies 25, 1975, pp. 169-180.
  • Karlheinz Kessler : Investigations into the historical topography of northern Mesopotamia. According to cuneiform sources from the 1st millennium BC. Reichert, Wiesbaden 1980, ISBN 3-88226-023-8 , p. 138.
  • David Oates: Studies in the Ancient History of Northern Iraq.

Web links

Commons : Tigris  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. J. Keetman 2016: On the writing of the word idigna "Tigris" and the possible meaning "heron river", Bibliotheca Orientalis 73: 7-11.
  2. after Russel 1984, 175
  3. Alessandro Scafi, Mapping Paradise, A history of Heaven on earth (London, British Library 2006), 40
  4. ^ GR Driver: The dispersion of the Kurds in Ancient Times. In: Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland 4, 1921, 564
Hasankeyf on the Tigris - the city is to be flooded by the Ilisu dam