Carchemish

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Coordinates: 36°49′47″N 38°00′54″E / 36.82972°N 38.01500°E / 36.82972; 38.01500

Map of Syria in the second millennium BC, showing the location of Carchemish, or "Karkemish."

Carchemish (/kɑrˈkɛm.ɪʃ/[1]) or Karkemish (Hittite: Kargamiš;[2] Greek: Εὔρωπος; Latin: Europus) was an important ancient capital at times independent but also having been part of the Mitanni, Hittite and Neo Assyrian Empires, now on the frontier between Turkey and Syria. It was the location of an important battle between the Babylonians and Egyptians, mentioned in the Bible (Jer. 46:2). Modern neighbouring cities are Karkamış in Turkey and Jarabulus in Syria (also Djerablus, Jerablus, Jarablos, Jarâblos) [5]; the original form of the modern toponym seems to have been Djerabis, likely[citation needed] derived from the ancient name of the Hellenistic-Roman settlement Europos.

History[edit]

The site has been occupied since the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods[3] (pot burials), with cist tombs from ca. 2400 BC (Early Bronze Age). The city is mentioned in documents found in the Ebla archives of the 3rd millennium BC. According to documents from the archives of Mari and Alalakh, dated from ca. 1800 BC, Carchemish was then ruled by a king named Aplahanda and was an important center of timber trade. It had treaty relationships with Ugarit and Mitanni (Hanilgalbat). In ancient times, the city commanded the main ford in the region across the Euphrates, a situation which must have contributed greatly to its historical and strategic importance.

Pharaoh Thutmose I of the Eighteenth Dynasty erected a stele near Carchemish to celebrate his conquest of Syria and other lands beyond the Euphrates. Around the end of the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten, Carchemish was captured by king Suppiluliuma I of the Hittites (ca. 14th century BC), who made it into a kingdom ruled by his son Piyassili.

The city became one of the most important centres in the Hittite Empire, during the Late Bronze Age, and reached its apogee around the 11th century BC. While the Hittite empire fell to the Sea Peoples during the Bronze Age collapse, Carchemish survived the Sea People's attacks to continue to be the capital of an important Neo-Hittite kingdom in the Iron Age, and a trading center. Although Ramesses III states in an inscription dating to his 8th Year from his Medinet Habu mortuary temple that Carchemish was destroyed by the Sea Peoples, the city evidently survived the onslaught.[4] King Kuzi-Tesup I is attested in power here and was the son of Talmi-Teshub who was a contemporary of the last surviving Hittite king, Suppiluliuma II.[5] He and his successors ruled a small empire stretching from Southeast Asia Minor to Northern Syria and the West Bend of the Euphrates[6] under the title 'Great King.' This suggests that Kuzi-Tesub saw himself as the true heir of the line of the great Suppiliuma I and that the central dynasty at Hattusa was now defunct.[7] This powerful kingdom lasted from c.1175 to 975 BC when it began losing control of its imperial possessions and became a more local city state centered around Carchemish.[8]

The patron deity of Carchemish was Kubaba, a goddess of apparently Hurrian origins. She was represented as a dignified woman wearing a long robe, standing or seated, and holding a mirror.

In the 9th century BC, the city paid tribute to Kings Ashurnasirpal II and Shalmaneser III of Assyria. It was conquered by Sargon II in 717 BC, in the reign of King Pisiri.

In the summer of 605 BC, the Battle of Carchemish was fought there by the Babylonian army of Nebuchadnezzar II and that of Pharaoh Necho II of Egypt and the remnants of the Assyrian army. (Jer. 46:2). The aim of Necho's campaign was to contain the Westward advance of the Babylonian Empire and cut off its trade route across the Euphrates. However, the Egyptians were defeated by the unexpected attack of the Babylonians and were eventually expelled from Syria.

Archaeology[edit]

Carchemish is now an extensive set of ruins (90 hectares, of which 55 lie in Turkey and 35 in Syria), located on the West bank of Euphrates River, about 60 kilometres (37 mi) southeast of Gaziantep, Turkey and 100 kilometres (62 mi) northeast of Aleppo, Syria. The site is crossed by the Baghdad Railway that now forms the Turco-Syrian border. A Turkish military base has been built on the Carchemish acropolis and Inner Town, and access to that part of the site is presently restricted. Most of the Outer Town lies in Syrian territory.

T. E. Lawrence and Leonard Woolley (right) in Carchemish, Spring 1913

Carchemish has always been well known to scholars because of several references to it in the Bible (Jer. 46:2; 2 Chr. 35:20; Isa. 10:9) and in Egyptian and Assyrian texts. However, its location was identified only in 1876 by George Smith. Carchemish had been previously identified, incorrectly, with the Classical city of Circesium, at the confluence of the Khabur River and the Euphrates,[9] while some early scholars thought that Jarabulus could be Hierapolis Bambyce, although that site is actually located at Manbij in Syria.

The site was excavated by the British Museum, between 1878 and 1881 through Consul Patrick Henderson and between 1911 and 1914 under the direction of D. G. Hogarth. In 1911 on the field there were D. G. Hogarth himself, R. Campbell Thompson, and T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"), from 1912 to 1914 C. L. Woolley and T. E. Lawrence, while a last campaign took place in 1920 with C. L. Woolley and Philip Langstaffe Ord Guy.[10][11][12][13] Excavations were interrupted in 1914 by World War I and then ended with the Turkish War of Independence.[14] These expeditions uncovered substantial remains of the Assyrian and Neo-Hittite periods, including defensive structures, temples, palaces, and numerous basalt statues and reliefs with Luwian hieroglyphic inscriptions.

Though the previously excavated areas in the Inner Town in Turkey have been off limits to archaeology, work in the Outer Town and surrounding region has added more insight to Carchemish.[15] With the completion of mine clearing operations on the Turkish portion of the site, archaeological work was resumed in September 2011.[16] Excavations in the Inner and Outer Towns were carried out by a joint Turco-Italian team from the Universities of Bologna [6], Gaziantep and Istanbul under the direction of Professor Nicolò Marchetti.[17] The second season, from August to November 2012, brought several new art findings and archaeological discoveries, the most remarkable of which is Katuwa's Palace (c. 900 BC) to the east of the Processional Entry. The third season, from May to October 2013, extended the exposure of Katuwa's palace, retrieving a cuneiform tablet with an exorcism in the name of the god Marduk, as well as the ruins of Lawrence's excavation house in the Inner Town, from which literally hundreds of fragments of sculptures and hieroglyphic inscriptions have been retrieved. The identification of a royal head in relief as belonging to a stele of the king of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar II has been one of the highlights of the third season. Financial support has been received by the three Universities mentioned above, by the Italian Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of University, Education and Research. The Global Heritage Fund and the J.M. Kaplan Fund [7], two non-profit organisations, supported the restorations of ancient monuments at the site during the 2012 and 2013 seasons respectively.

Archaeological investigations on the Syrian side have been conducted as part of the Land of Carchemish project [8]: investigations of the Outer Town of Carchemish were undertaken in conjunction with the DGAM in Damascus and with the funding and sponsorship of the Council for British Research in the Levant and of the British Academy, under the direction of Professors T.J. Wilkinson and E. Peltenburg. Some 30% of Carchemish remains within Syria. The Outer Town area lying in Syria has been designated an endangered cultural heritage site and labelled “at risk” by the Global Heritage Fund, which supported the 2010 season, due to the agricultural expansion and, especially, the urban encroachment. The field assessment of the Syrian part of the Outer Town proved that, unfortunately, not only have parts of the modern border town of Jerablus encroached upon the Outer Town, but also since around 2000, a number of houses have been constructed within the agricultural area between the border (demarcated by the so-called Baghdad Railway) and the modern town. Consequently a critical component of the work of the team involved defining limits of the ancient city in relation to the modern town.[18]

Kings of Carchemish[edit]

Ruler Proposed reign Notes
Aplahanda ca. 1786 to 1766
Yatar-Ami ca. 1766 to 1764 son of Aplahanda
Yahdul-Lim ca. 1764 to 1745 son of Aplahanda
Piyassili or Sharri-Kushukh ca. 1315 son of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma I
[...]sharruma son of Piyassilis
Shakhurunuwa son of Piyassilis
Ini-Teshub I ca. 1230s
Talmi-Teshub ca. 1200
Kuzi-Teshub ca. 1170 claimed the title of "Great King" after the fall of Hatti
Ini-Teshub II ca. 1100
Tudhaliya ca. 1100 either before or after Ini-Teshub II
Sapaziti
Uratarhunda ca. 1000
Suhi I ca. 975
Astuwalamanza
Suhi II
Katuwa ca. 900
Sangara 870-848
Astiru ca. 840
Yariri (regent) ca. 815
Kamani ca. 790
Sastura ca. 760
Astiru II (?)
Pisiri ca. 730s the last king, defeated in 717 by Sargon II

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ LDS.org: "Book of Mormon Pronunciation Guide" (retrieved 2012-02-25), IPA-ified from «kär-kĕm´ĭsh»
  2. ^ "Kargamiš." by D. Hawkins in Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie. Walter de Gruyter (1980).
  3. ^ Langer, William L., ed. (1972). An Encyclopedia of World History (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 9. ISBN 0-395-13592-3. 
  4. ^ Gary Beckman, "Hittite Chronology", Akkadica, pp.119–120 (2000), p.23
  5. ^ K.A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, William B. Eerdsman Publishing Co, pp.99 & 140
  6. ^ Kitchen, op. cit., p.99
  7. ^ Trevor R. Bryce, The Kingdom of the Hittites, Oxford University Press, p.384
  8. ^ Kitchen, op. cit., p.100
  9. ^ CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Circesium
  10. ^ [1] David George Hogarth, Hittite problems and the excavation of Carchemish, H. Frowde, 1911 (Nabu Press, 2010, ISBN 978-1-171-63699-1)
  11. ^ D.G. Hogarth, Carchemish I: Introductory, The British Museum Press, London 1914, repr. 1969
  12. ^ C.L. Woolley, Carchemish II: Town Defences: Report on the Excavations at Jerablus on Behalf of the British Museum, British Museum Press, London 1921, repr. 1969, ISBN 0-7141-1002-7
  13. ^ C.L. Woolley & R.D. Barnett, Carchemish III: Excavations in the Inner Town: Report on the Excavations at Jerablus on Behalf of the British Museum, British Museum Press, London 1952, repr. 1978, ISBN 0-7141-1003-5
  14. ^ H.G. Güterbock, Carchemish, in Journal of Near Eastern Studies 13/2 (1954), pp. 102-114
  15. ^ Edgar Peltenburg, Euphrates River Valley Settlement: The Carchemish Sector in the Third Millennium BC, Oxbow Books, 2007, ISBN 1-84217-272-7
  16. ^ [2] Ancient city to rise in SE Turkey area cleared of mines. Daily News & Economic Review 31.03.2011
  17. ^ [3] Nicolò Marchetti et al., Karkemish on the Euphrates: Excavating a City’s History, in Near Eastern Archaeology 75.3 (2012), pp. 132-147
  18. ^ [4] T.J. Wilkinson and E. Peltenberg. 2010. Carchemish in Context: Surveys in the Hinterland of a Major Iron Age City. Bulletin of the Council for British Research in the Levant, Volume 5, Number 1, November 2010 , pp. 11-20(10)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Nicolò Marchetti et al., Karkemish on the Euphrates: Excavating a City's History, in Near Eastern Archaeology 75/3 (2012), pp. 132–147 (http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5615/neareastarch.75.issue-3)
  • Nicolò Marchetti, "The 2011 Joint Turco-Italian Excavations at Karkemish", in 34. kazı sonuçları toplantısı, 28 mayıs-1 haziran 2012, Çorum. 1. cilt, T.C. Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı, Ankara 2013, pp. 349-364 (http://www.kulturvarliklari.gov.tr/Eklenti/7332,34kazi1.pdf?0)
  • J. David Hawkins, Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions I. Inscriptions of the Iron Age. de Gruyter, Berlin 2000, ISBN 978-3-11-010864-4.
  • David M. Wilson, The British Museum. A history. The British Museum Press, London, 2002.
  • David Ussishkin, Observations on Some Monuments from Carchemish, in Journal of Near Eastern Studies 26/2 (1967), pp. 87–92.
  • C. W. Ceram, The Secret of the Hittites: The Discovery of an Ancient Empire. Phoenix Press (2001), ISBN 1-84212-295-9.

External links[edit]