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This is an account of two summers I spent with semi-nomadic Kurdish pastoralists in the summer of 1985 and 1986. During each of the summers I spent about a month on Samdi Dag mountain in the Cilo-Sat range of mountains in Hakkari Province in the very south east corner of Turkey, in what was then it’s remote and anarchic borderlands with Iraq and Iran. The semi-nomads spent the winters in their village, called Ikiyaka, which was previously Sat koyu, on the southern flanks of Samdi Dag in a valley partly in Iraq. The village has ancient roots and there were many venerable walnut trees around the stone houses. It had previously been an Assyrian village and there were the ruins of a 12th Century church on its southern edge. During the warm spring the heavy winter snows, which buried the village, quickly melted and fed the surrounding pastures but by early summer these pastures were parched and only the irrigated terraced fields remained green. Then most of the families packed their black goat hair tents, cooking utensils and bed rolls and loaded them onto mules to make the journey up the steep, dry south flank of Samdi Dag to the main ridge crossing over to the northern flanks of the mountain, taking their herds of sheep and goats with them. The village would split into three groups or herding units each dispersing onto extensive pastures on the northern flanks of Samdi Dag where snowfields would persist late into the summer slowly melting and keeping the pastures green. As these snowfields retreated up the north side of Samdi Dag mountain, the semi-nomads would follow them, each herding unit moving camp, also called zozan, every few weeks so the herds would always graze green pastures. Towards the end of the summer in September the nomadic camps would be spread across the pastures at the top of the north side, often on large plateaus with glacial lakes beneath towering crags. I spent most of my time camping in the midst of one herding unit who finished the season at Sergera zozan , occasionally visiting another who ended the summer at Gaveruk zozan.

To download a 70 page PDF of the blog document click the link : Kurdistan 1986