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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 Karkamış’s last 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 Soldiers Soldiers Soldiers Inscription of Suhi II
Charioters Charioters Charioters Kubaba BONUS-tis, the wife of Suhi II Goddess - K.Bittel Kubaba Kubaba
Stairways to the Citadel
Drawing of the Long Wall and great stairways View of stairways View of stairways during excavations Gods Gods on lion Gazelle
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 A scorpion man (girtablullu) and a divine figure killing a winged bull Gilgamesh and Enkidu are killing Humbaba Winged sphinxes attack a winged horse Bull-men (kusarikku) and lion-men (ugallu) Double headed sphinx Pair of bulls butting a voluted tree Lion attacking a bull and a calf Winged griffins carrying the firmament Contest with a lion Lion hunt Lion attacking a royal hunting cage drawn on a chariot Master of the beast (Gilgamesh?)
Royal Buttress of Yariri and Kamani
Royal Buttress and Procession Way Left side of Royal Buttress Soldiers at the procession Soldiers at the procession Soldiers at the procession Soldiers at the procession
Base of a statue and Royal Buttress Soldiers at the procession Soldiers at the procession Inscription of Yariri Inscription of Yariri Yariri and Kamani
Yariri and family Children of Yariri Yariri' son Musicians playing a string instrument, double flute and castanyets
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
Water Gate and other orthostats
Water gate during excavations Water gate during excavations Water gate orthostats Water gate orthostats Water gate orthostats Water gate orthostats Water gate orthostats Water gate orthostats Water gate orthostats Water gate orthostats Water gate orthostats Water gate orthostats Water gate orthostats Water gate orthostats Water gate orthostats Water gate orthostats
Statues, Inscriptions
King's Gate and statue of Storm God King's Gate The double bull base by the Long Wall Statue of Storm God The double bull base The double bull base Columnbase Inscription of Katuwa Inscription of Katuwa Gateway inscriptions Gateway inscriptions Gateway inscriptions Gateway inscriptions Inscription of Yariri about his works Ashmolean Museum Doorjamb - British Museum



Image sources:
Tayfun Bilgin, 2006.
Kurt Bittel, Die Hethiter, Beck, München 1976, ISBN 3406030246.
Ekrem Akurgal, The Hattian and Hittite Civilizations, KTB, Ankara, 2001.
British Museum

Kings of Karkamış     Relationship Approximate reign (BCE)
Piyasili (Šarri-Kušuh) Son of Suppiluliuma I ca. 1325-1315
[...]šarruma son of Piyasili late 14th cent.
Sahurunuwa son of Piyasili early 13th cent.
Ini-Tešub I son of Sahurunuwa mid 13th cent.
Talmi-Tešub son of Ini-Tešub late 13th cent.
Kuzi-Tešub son of Talmi-Tešub early 12th cent.
[...] Fall of Hittite Empire ca. 1180
Ini-Tešub II ? ca. 12th-11th cent.
Tudhaliya ? ca. 11th-10th cent.
[...]paziti ? ca. 11th-10th cent.
Ura-Tarhunza ? ca. 11th-10th cent.
[...]
Suhi I ? ca. 10th cent.
Astuwalamanza son of Suhi I ca. 10th cent.
Suhi II son of Astuwalamanza ca. 10th cent.
Katuwa son of Suhi II ca. 10th-9th cent.
Sangara ? ca. 870-848
Astiruwa ? ca. 9th-8th cent.
Yariri regent ca. 9th-8th cent.
Kamani son of Astiruwa early 8th cent.
Sastura vizier of Kamani mid 8th cent.
Pisiri Possibly the son of Sastura     defeated by Sargon II in 717 BCE