What the hell, with this going on, we might as well get to know a little about the geography of the place…
A Snapshot View
River of SW Asia, c.1,150 mi (1,850 km) long, rising in the Taurus mts., E Turkey, and flowing SE through Iraq to join the Euphrates River, with which it forms the Shatt al Arab.
A Little More Detail
Along with its partner, the Euphrates, The Tigris River is one of the two large rivers in Mesopotamia, the so called “cradles of civilization.” During ancient times, powerful cities such as Nineveh, Calah, and Ashur called its banks home. The Bible (Genesis 2:14) seems to indicate that the Tigris River had its origin in the Garden of Eden.
What’s in a name?
To me, not much. But, for the sake of this write up, lets take a look at what other cultures and civilizations have called the Tigris.
In Sumeria it was known as the ‘Idigna’
The Akkadians called it the ‘Idiklat’
In Hebrew, it is known as the ‘Hiddekel’
In Arabic, it is known as the ‘Dijla’
In Turkish it is known as the ‘Dicle’
And last but not least, the name ‘Tigris’, comes from Latin
On to the good stuff
All in all, the Tigris River clocks in at about 1,150 miles. It has its start in the Armenian mountains in present day Turkey. From there it meanders through present day Iraq and Syria. It gets additional water from four main tributaries, the Greater Zeb, the Lesser Zeb, the Adhem and the Diyala. Contrary to its partner, the Euphrates, the Tigris River is quite susceptible to flooding and usually averages a rise in the river somewhere between 4 ½ feet to 9 feet. Of course there always are exceptions and the record rise in the river came in 1954 when it rose an astounding 27 feet.
A major source of trade between northern Iraq and Baghdad, the Tigris is navigable as far north as the city of Mosul. During flood season, rafts laden with goods and weighing as much as 35 tons make the trek and float the 275 miles downstream from Mosul to Baghdad. Upon their arrival, the goods are sold, the rafts dismantled and the wood is sold to local merchants. The skins that compose the raft are loaded up on donkeys and carried back up river where the process will repeat itself. Due to the strong currents, there is little traffic headed upriver between Baghdad and Mosul.
Some stops along the way
At the city of Kut, the Tigris hits its widest point, about 1,300 feet . The depth varies anywhere between 4 ½ to 26 feet during flooding season. The current clocks in anywhere between 1 ¼ to 4 miles per hour.
In contrast, at the city of Amara, the Tigris is only 600 feet wide and the depth varies anywhere between 6 ½ to 13 feet. It is also at Amara where the marshlands drain off a lot of the river and it narrows to a width of only 200 or so feet.
As we continue down the river and head towards southern Iraq, the bed of the Tigris becomes lower than that of the Euphrates. In the canals that have been dug for irrigation, the water flows from west to east.
Finally, as you head further south, the Tigris and Euphrates meet at a place called Qurna. The waters there average about 30 feet in depth and can be over 1,200 feet wide. The combined waters, known as Shatt al Arab then make a relatively short journey before they empty into the Persian Gulf.