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THE ESSENCE OF LIFE WATER
2001 / MAY
The survival of all living creatures, from the simplest organisms to human beings, depends on water, that substance so essential for the continuation of life on earth. It was in water that life first began millions of years ago, evolving into the countless diversity which exists today. Water has sometimes shaped evolutionary patterns, and caused the migration, and even the extinction of certain species.

When we examine human history we find that the locations of our homes, from prehistoric caves to great cities, have been chosen because of proximity to a water source. Mesopotamia, the area between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, became one of the most important cradles of civilisation, and the Nile gave birth to Egyptian civilisation. Every great city in history had plentiful supplies of fresh water.
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THE ESSENCE OF LIFE WATER
2001 / MAY
This vital need led to an emotional bond based on respect, legends symbolising which are to be found in most civilisations. In Greek mythology, for instance, there are many relating to Poseidon, the god of the sea and underground rivers, Oceanus, god of rivers, and the naiads of streams, springs and fountains.

One of the most important factors in the shape of our world today is water. Water covers three-quarters of our world in the form of oceans, and the Poles and Arctic regions are covered by water in the form of ice and snow. On land there are lakes, rivers and underground water systems. Water evaporates by means of heat to form mist and clouds, and returns to the earth in the form of rain and snow. There is water vapour in the air that we breathe. This constant circulation of water enables life to continue, and at the same time is perpetually altering the shape of the world.
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THE ESSENCE OF LIFE WATER
2001 / MAY
In Turkey's Eastern Black Sea mountains, water vapour forms thick layers of cloud and mist, resulting in the highest rainfall levels in the country, so that these ranges several thousand metres in height are verdant and bright with flowers even in the height of summer.

The streams which flow down from the peaks combine with others to form large numbers of fast flowing rivers which give life to luxuriant forest before pouring into the Black Sea.


In winter water returns to the earth as snow, particularly at high altitudes. The snow which caps the great Toros range stretching along Turkey's Mediterranean coast begins to melt with the coming of spring. In this karstic region, water plays an extraordinary role, eroding the limestone of which these mountains are largely formed to create countless deep gorges.
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THE ESSENCE OF LIFE WATER
2001 / MAY

Since the water dissolves the calcium in the limestone, it penetrates through the rock itself, as well as pouring through fissures, creating rivers, waterfalls and lakes in the depths of the earth. The underwater river in the Dumanli cave system in Antalya is one of the largest in the world.

The water flowing through these rivers and lakes pours out through cracks or cave mouths to form rivers. Water falling on the Yedigoller plateau in the Aladag Mountains in the eastern Toros forms a large lake and underground river that flows for many kilometres before emerging into the light of day in the form of five waterfalls that burst out of a cliff at Kapuzbasi. These falls, which never dry up, are the main source of the Zamanti River.
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THE ESSENCE OF LIFE WATER
2001 / MAY

Underground water erodes the rock both physically and chemically, creating caves of magical beauty with stalactites, stalagmites, pools of water and galleries, and the water which finds its way above ground through caves, waterfalls and springs, flows through valleys, plains and forests in the form of streams, which join to form rivers, and finally empty into lakes or the sea. So water completes its cycle, and now must rise again to the mountain tops. It is this phenomenon which gives life and beauty to our world, in all its shades of blue and green.

 


* Ali Ihsan Gokcen is a photographer.

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