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Karkamış / Karkamiš

Karkamış (Carchemish) was an important settlement even before the 2nd millemium BCE. The first Hittite occupation of the city may have taken place for a short period during Mursili I (16th century BCE). Karkamış remained under Mitanni (Hurri) rule during 15th and 14th centuries and then came into full Hittite control during Suppiluliuma I (c. 1330 BCE). Suppiluliuma made it into a vassal kingdom ruled by his son Piyasili, who is also known by his Hurrian name Šarri-Kušuh. Located on the west bank of Euprates river (today right at the border of Turkey and Syria), Karkamış became the administrative capital of the Syrian territories of the Hittites during the Late Bronze Age. After the collapse of the Hittite Empire around 1180 BCE, Karkamış survived as the strongest of the several smaller Neo-Hittite kingdoms established in southeast Anatolia and northern Syria. It was an important trade center and reached its apogee around the 9th century BCE. The patron deity of Karkamış was Kubaba, a goddess of Hurrian origin. In her depictions, she was presented as a dignified woman wearing a long robe, standing or seated, and holding a mirror. In the 9th century BCE, the city was under pressure by the Assyrians and it is known that tribute was paid at least in two occasions to the Assyrian Kings Ashurnasirpal II and Shalmaneser III. The city was finally conquered by Sargon II in 717 BCE, during the reign of king Pisiri.

In the first millennium BCE, Karkamış consisted of a high citadel mound by the Euphrates, with a walled inner town and an outer town. Excavations revealed a processional way which led to the temple of the Storm-God and to a monumental stairway to the citadel. The whole complex was decorated with basalt and limestone sculptures.

Location of the city ruins was identified in 1876 by George Smith. The site was excavated initially by British Museum, mainly between 1911 and 1914, under D. G. Hogarth, R. C. Thompson, C. L. Wooley and T. E. Lawrence. These expeditions uncovered substantial remains of the Neo-Hittite and Assyrian periods, including defensive structures, temples, palaces, and numerous basalt statues, reliefs, and inscriptions. A good portion of the orthostats are currently in Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara. Several other artifacts are in British Museum.

The site is located on the Turkish side of the Turkish-Syrian border and remained under a mine field since 1950s. In 2011 Turkish government cleaned up the mines and new excavations in Karkamış started the same year under the supervision of Prof. Marchetti of Bologna University.



Click on pictures for a larger image.

The City Plan
View during first excavations
Long Wall
View of the Long Wall View of the Long Wall View during excavations T. Bilgin, 2006 T. Bilgin, 2006 T. Bilgin, 2006 Inscription of Suhi II - T. Bilgin, 2006 T. Bilgin, 2006 B. Bilgin, 2017 B. Bilgin, 2017 B. Bilgin, 2017 B. Bilgin, 2017 Wife of Suhi II - B. Bilgin, 2017 Goddess - K. Bittel, 1976 Kubaba - B. Bilgin, 2017 Kubaba - B. Bilgin, 2017
Staircase to the Citadel
Drawing of the Long Wall and great stairways View of stairways View of stairways during excavations Gods - J.D. Hawkins, 2000 Sun God and Moon God on lion - T. Bilgin, 2006 The double bull base - T. Bilgin, 2006 Gazelle - British Museum Relief fragment from Staircase area - T. Bilgin, 2014 Relief fragment from Staircase area Doorjamb - British Museum
Herald's Wall
Herald's Wall during excavation Herald's Wall during excavation Herald's Wall during excavation Herald's Wall during excavation A camel and rider - T. Bilgin, 2014 A scorpion man (girtablullu) and a divine figure killing a winged bull - T. Bilgin, 2014 Gilgamesh and Enkidu are killing Humbaba - T. Bilgin, 2006 Winged sphinxes attack a winged horse - T. Bilgin, 2014 Bull-men (kusarikku) and lion-men (ugallu) - T. Bilgin, 2014 Double headed sphinx - T. Bilgin, 2014 Pair of bulls butting a voluted tree - T. Bilgin, 2014 Lion attacking a bull and a calf - T. Bilgin, 2014 Winged griffins carrying the firmament - T. Bilgin, 2014 Contest with a lion - T. Bilgin, 2014 Lion hunt - T. Bilgin, 2014 Lion attacking a hunting cage drawn on a chariot - T. Bilgin, 2014 Master of the beast (Gilgamesh?) - T. Bilgin, 2014
Royal Buttress of Yariri and Kamani
Royal Buttress and Procession Way Left side of Royal Buttress T. Bilgin, 2014 T. Bilgin, 2014 T. Bilgin, 2014 Base of a statue and Royal Buttress - T. Bilgin, 2014 Base of a statue - T. Bilgin 2014 T. Bilgin, 2014 T. Bilgin, 2014 T. Bilgin, 2014 T. Bilgin, 2006 Inscription of Yariri - T. Bilgin 2014 Inscription of Yariri - T. Bilgin 2006 Yariri and the royal family Yariri and Kamani - T. Bilgin 2014 Royal children - T. Bilgin 2006 T. Bilgin 2014 Musicians - T. Bilgin 2014
Procession Way
Musicians Goddess Kubaba Women following ceremonial procession Women following ceremonial procession Women following ceremonial procession Women following ceremonial procession Women following ceremonial procession Bearers of sacrificial animals Bearers of sacrificial animals Bearers of sacrificial animals
King's Gate
King's Gate and statue of Storm God King's Gate T. Bilgin, 2006 T. Bilgin, 2006 T. Bilgin, 2006 T. Bilgin, 2006 T. Bilgin, 2014
T. Bilgin, 2014 T. Bilgin, 2006 T. Bilgin, 2006 T. Bilgin, 2006 Statue of Storm God T. Bilgin, 2006 T. Bilgin, 2006 Gateway inscriptions Gateway inscriptions Gateway inscriptions
Water Gate
Water gate during excavations T. Bilgin, 2006 T. Bilgin, 2006 T. Bilgin, 2006 T. Bilgin, 2006 From the road to Water gate - T. Bilgin, 2006 T. Bilgin, 2014 T. Bilgin, 2014
Storm God Temple
Storm-god temple Storm-god temple The double bull base Storm-god temple orthostat - T. Bilgin 2006 Gateway inscriptions Gateway inscriptions T. Bilgin, 2006
Others
Inscription of Katuwa - T. Bilgin, 2014 Inscription of Katuwa - T. Bilgin, 2006 SE of inner town From Hilani area - T. Bilgin, 2006 Ruler statue from Hilani area - T. Bilgin, 2014 Inscription of Yariri about his works - T. Bilgin, 2014 Portal lion from South Gate - T. Bilgin, 2014 Stele of Kubaba Columnbase from NW Citadel - T. Bilgin, 2006 Stele from Upper Karkamış - T. Bilgin, 2014 Inscription from Çiftlik at Sajur Valley, Ashmolean Museum Funerary stele - T. Bilgin, 2014 Stele from Sinsile - T. Bilgin, 2014 Storm-god stele - T. Bilgin, 2014 Stele from Yunus Höyük - T. Bilgin, 2014 Stele from Yunus Höyük - T. Bilgin, 2014
Recent finds
Stele of Suhi I
Stele of Atika (ADANA 1)
Adana Museum - T. Bilgin, 2017 Adana Museum - T. Bilgin, 2017 Adana Museum - T. Bilgin, 2017 Adana Museum - T. Bilgin, 2017 Adana Museum - T. Bilgin, 2017



Image sources:
Tayfun Bilgin, 2006, 2014.
Bora Bilgin, 2017.
Kurt Bittel, Die Hethiter, München 1976.
J. David Hawkins, 2000.
Ekrem Akurgal, The Hattian and Hittite Civilizations, Ankara, 2001.
British Museum

RULERS OF KARKAMIŞ
King/Great King Ruler/Country-Lord
(tarwani/REGIO.DOMINUS)
Approximate reign (BCE)
Piyasili (Šarri-Kušuh), son of Suppiluliuma I     late 14th century
Sahurunuwa, son of Piyasili early 13th cent.
Ini-Teššub I, son of Sahurunuwa mid 13th cent.
Talmi-Teššub, son of Ini-Teššub late 13th cent.
Ku(n)zi-Teššub, son of Talmi-Teššub early 12th cent.
Fall of Hittite Empire ca. 1180
?
Ini-Teššub II ca. 11th cent.
?
Sapaziti ca. 11th-10th cent.
Ura-Tarhunza, son of Sapaziti Suhi I ca. early 10th cent.
Astuwalamanza, son of Suhi I ca. 10th cent.
Tudhaliya Suhi II, son of Astuwalamanza     ca. 10th cent.
Grandsons of Ura-Tarhunza Katuwa, son of Suhi II ca. 10th-9th cent.
?
Sangara ? ca. 870-848
?
Astiruwa I ca. 9th-8th cent.
   Yariri (regent) ca. 9th-8th cent.
Kamani, son of Astiruwa I early 8th cent.
   Sastura (vizier of Kamani) early 8th cent.
Astiru II, son of Sastura mid 8th cent.
Pisiri, son of Astiru II(?)     ca. 740-717 BCE; defeated by Sargon II of Assyria