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Karkamış / Karkamiš

Karkamış (Carchemish) was an important settlement even before the 2nd millennium BCE. Karkamış remained under Mitanni (Hurri) rule during the 15th and 14th centuries and then came into Hittite control during Suppiluliuma I (ca. 1330 BCE). Suppiluliuma turned Karkamış 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 Euphrates (today at the border of Turkey and Syria), Karkamış became the administrative capital of the Syrian territories of the Hittite Empire during the Late Bronze Age and was ruled by a side branch of the Hittite royal family. After the collapse of the Hittite Empire around 1180 BCE, initially Karkamış ruled over a relatively larger territory reaching to Malatya in the north. Later, it ruled only around Karkamış surviving as one of the several smaller Neo-Hittite kingdoms established in southeast Anatolia and northern Syria. The city 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 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 Assyrian king Sargon II in 717 BCE, during the reign of king Pisiri.

Location of the city ruins was identified in 1876 by George Smith. Between 1878 and 1881 some soundings were conducted by the British Museum under Patrick Henderson, but first proper excavations were carried out between 1911 and 1914, under D. G. Hogarth, R. C. Thompson, C. L. Woolley 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. The site is located on the Turkish side of the Turkish-Syrian border and remained under a mine field since the 1950s. In 2011 Turkish government cleaned up the mines and new excavations in Karkamış started the same year under the supervision of Prof. N. Marchetti of Bologna University.

All monumental finds date to the Neo-Hittite period. 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. Most of the orthostats and statues from the early excavations are currently in the Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara. Several other artifacts are in the British Museum. Findings from the recent excavations are either kept at the site or transferred to the Gaziantep Archaeology Museum.



Click on the pictures for larger images.

City Plan
Karkamış city plan - L. Woolley, Carchemish II Karkamış city plan - L. Woolley, Carchemish III View of the Lower Palace area from the north - L. Woolley, 1952 (1911-14) City plan vith new excavations - Turkish-Italian Excavation Team, 2017 Karkamış satellite view - Google Earth, 2020
Long Wall of Sculpture
Plan of Long Wall of Sculpture North end of the Long Wall - L. Woolley, 1952 (1911-14) South end of the Long Wall - L. Woolley, 1952 (1911-14) Long Wall during excavations - L. Woolley, 1952 (1911-14) Warriors - B. Bilgin, 2022 Warriors - B. Bilgin, 2022 Warriors - B. Bilgin, 2022 Inscription of Suhi II (KARKAMIŠ A1a)
Chariot - B. Bilgin, 2022 Chariot - B. Bilgin, 2017 Chariot - B. Bilgin, 2017 Chariot - B. Bilgin, 2017 Chariot - B. Bilgin, 2017 Wife of Suhi II and a winged goddess - B. Bilgin, 2017 Winged goddess - K. Bittel, 1976 A godddess - B. Bilgin, 2017 Deities - B. Bilgin, 2017
Great Staircase to the Citadel
Plan of the Great Staircase area Drawing of the Great Staircase area View of the staircase - L. Woolley, 1952 (1911-14) View of the staircase during excavations - L. Woolley, 1952 (1911-14) Relief fragment from the Great Staircase area Relief fragment from the Great Staircase area - British Museum Relief fragment from the Great Staircase area - British Museum Lion fragments from the entrance of the Gatehouse Doorjamb with inscription (KARKAMIŠ A23) - British Museum Gods - J. D. Hawkins, 2000 Sun God and Moon God on a lion - B. Bilgin, 2022 The double bull base Gazelle - British Museum Inscribed stele (KARKAMIŠ A17b) Stele fragment from the vicinity of the Great Staircase - B. Bilgin, 2022 Stele fragment from the vicinity of the Great Staircase - B. Bilgin, 2022 Relief fragment from Staircase area - T. Bilgin, 2014
Herald's Wall
Plan of the Herald's Wall Heralds' Wall during excavation - D. G. Hogarth, 1914 Herald's Wall during excavation - L. Woolley, 1952 (1911-14) Herald's Wall during excavation - D. G. Hogarth, 1914 A camel and rider - B. Bilgin, 2022 A scorpion man (girtablullu) and a divine figure killing a winged bull - B. Bilgin, 2022 Gilgamesh and Enkidu are killing Humbaba - B. Bilgin, 2022 Winged sphinxes attack a winged horse - B. Bilgin, 2022 Bull-men (kusarikku) and lion-men (ugallu) - B. Bilgin, 2022 Double headed sphinx - B. Bilgin, 2022 Pair of bulls butting a voluted tree - B. Bilgin, 2022 Lion attacking a bull and a calf - B. Bilgin, 2022 Winged griffins carrying the firmament - B. Bilgin, 2022 Contest with a lion - B. Bilgin, 2022 Lion hunt - B. Bilgin, 2022 Lion attacking a hunting cage drawn on a chariot - B. Bilgin, 2022 Master of the beast (Gilgamesh?) - T. Bilgin, 2014
Royal Buttress of Yariri and Kamani
Plan of the Royal Buttress, Processional Way and King's Gate Royal Buttress and Processional Way Left side of Royal Buttress - D. G. Hogarth, 1914 B. Bilgin, 2022 T. Bilgin, 2014 B. Bilgin, 2022 B. Bilgin, 2022 Base of a statue and Royal Buttress - B. Bilgin, 2022 Base of a statue - B. Bilgin, 2022 T. Bilgin, 2014 T. Bilgin, 2014 T. Bilgin, 2014 Inscribed corner block - T. Bilgin, 2006 Yariri and the royal family Inscription of Yariri (KARKAMIŠ A6), left side Inscription of Yariri (KARKAMIŠ A6), right side Yariri ve Kamani Royal children Royal children Musicians - B. Bilgin 2022
Procession Way
Sphinx - W. Orthmann, 1971 Musicians - B. Bilgin, 2022 B. Bilgin, 2022 Goddess Kubaba - B. Bilgin, 2022 Women carrying offerings - B. Bilgin, 2022 Women carrying offerings - B. Bilgin, 2022 Women carrying offerings - B. Bilgin, 2022 Women carrying offerings - B. Bilgin, 2022 Women carrying offerings - B. Bilgin, 2022 Men carrying offerings - B. Bilgin, 2022 Men carrying offerings - B. Bilgin, 2022 Men carrying offerings - B. Bilgin, 2022 Men carrying offerings - W. Orthmann, 1971
King's Gate
King's Gate and statue of Storm God, view from the west - L. Woolley, 1952 (1911-14) King's Gate - L. Woolley, 1952 (1911-14) Kral Kapısı, view from the northeast - L. Woolley, 1952 (1911-14) Lion attacking bull - B. Bilgin, 2022 Griffons - B. Bilgin, 2022 Stag - B. Bilgin, 2022 Stag hunt - W. Orthmann, 1971 Lion-headed man - W. Orthmann, 1971 Hunter - W. Orthmann, 1971 Winged lion Crouching lion - B. Bilgin, 2022 Crouching lion - B. Bilgin, 2022 Gateway inscriptions (KARKAMIŠ A11c) Gateway inscriptions (KARKAMIŠ A11b) Gateway inscriptions (KARKAMIŠ A11a) Atrisuha statue - L. Woolley, 1952 (1911-14) Atrisuha statue - B. Bilgin, 2022 Soldiers - B. Bilgin, 2022 Bird-headed man - B. Bilgin, 2022 Hunt scene with chariot - B. Bilgin, 2022 Hunt scene with chariot - B. Bilgin, 2022
Water Gate
Plan of Water Gate Water gate during excavations - Woolley, 1921 (1911-14) Banquet scene - B. Bilgin, 2022 Sphinx - B. Bilgin, 2022 Fragment of an orthostat with a bull and lion - W. Orthmann, 1971 Winged lion - B. Bilgin, 2022 Bull-man - W. Orthmann, 1971 Libation scene - W. Orthmann, 1971
Storm God Temple
Storm-god temple, view from south - L. Woolley, 1952 (1911-14) Storm-god temple, view from northeast - L. Woolley, 1952 (1911-14) Storm-god temple, view from west today The double bull base Orthostat from the Storm-god Temple - B. Bilgin, 2022 Gateway inscription (KARKAMIŠ A2+3) Gateway inscription (KARKAMIŠ A2+3) KARKAMIŠ A4b - B. Bilgin, 2022
South Gate of the Inner Town
Restored drawing of the south gate - L. Woolley, 1921 Plan of the south gate - L. Woolley, 1921 South gate during the new excavations - Turco-Italian Excavation Team Lion orthostat from the south gate - T. Bilgin, 2014 Ruler statue from the south gate - L. Woolley, 1921
Others
Kral Tuthaliya Steli Inscription of Katuwa (KARKAMIŠ A13d) - T. Bilgin, 2014 Inscription of Katuwa (KARKAMIŠ A12) - B. Bilgin, 2022 Basalt relief found on the way to Water Gate - B. Bilgin, 2022 Narrow side of a corner block from the southeast of the Inner Town - B. Bilgin, 2022 Wide side of a corner block from the southeast of the Inner Town - B. Bilgin, 2022 From the area of Herald's Wall - B. Bilgin, 2022 From Hilani area - B. Bilgin, 2022 Ruler statue from Hilani area - T. Bilgin, 2014 Inscription of Yariri about his works (KARKAMIŠ 15b) - B. Bilgin, 2022 Stele of Kubaba Columnbase from NW Citadel - B. Bilgin, 2022 Stele from Upper Karkamış - T. Bilgin, 2014 Inscription from Çiftlik at Sajur Valley, Ashmolean Museum Funerary stele - T. Bilgin, 2014 Stele from Silsile - B. Bilgin, 2022 Storm-god stele from Şamak - B. Bilgin, 2022 Stele from Yunus Höyük - T. Bilgin, 2014 Stele from Yunus Höyük (YUNUS 1) ALEPPO 3 inscription - J. D. Hawkins, 2000 GELB inscription - J. D. Hawkins, 2000 BOROWSKI 2 inscription - J. D. Hawkins, 2000 BEIRUT inscription - J. D. Hawkins, 2000
Recent finds
Stele of Suhi I Image by Turco-Italian Excavation Team Image by Turco-Italian Excavation Team Image by Turco-Italian Excavation Team Image by Turco-Italian Excavation Team Image by Turco-Italian Excavation Team Image by Turco-Italian Excavation Team Image by Turco-Italian Excavation Team Image by Turco-Italian Excavation Team Image by Image by Turco-Italian Excavation Team Image by Turco-Italian Excavation Team
Stele of Atika (ADANA 1)
Adana Müzesi - T. Bilgin, 2017 Adana Müzesi - T. Bilgin, 2017 Adana Müzesi - T. Bilgin, 2017 Adana Müzesi - T. Bilgin, 2017 Adana Müzesi - T. Bilgin, 2017



Image sources:
Tayfun Bilgin, 2006, 2014, 2017.
Bora Bilgin, 2017, 2022.
Leonard Woolley, Carchemish III, 1952.
Leonard Woolley, Carchemish II, 1921.
Kurt Bittel, Die Hethiter, München 1976.
J. David Hawkins, 2000.
Winfried Orthmann, 1971.
British Museum
Joint Turco-Italian Excavation Team at Karkemish.

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 century
Ini-Teššub I, son of Sahurunuwa mid 13th century
Talmi-Teššub, son of Ini-Teššub late 13th century
Ku(n)zi-Teššub, son of Talmi-Teššub early 12th century
–––––––––––– Fall of the Hittite Empire –––––––––––– ca. 1180
?
Ini-Teššub II (?) ca. 11th century
?
Sapaziti ca. 11th-10th century
Ura-Tarhunza, son of Sapaziti Suhi I ca. early 10th century
Astuwalamanza, son of Suhi I ca. 10th century
Tudhaliya Suhi II, son of Astuwalamanza     ca. 10th century
Grandsons of Ura-Tarhunza Katuwa, son of Suhi II ca. 10th–9th century
?
Sangara ? ca. 870–848
?
Astiruwa I ca. 9th–8th century
   Yariri (regent) ca. 9th–8th century
Kamani, son of Astiruwa I early 8th century
   Sastura (vizier of Kamani) early 8th century
Astiru II, son of Sastura mid 8th century
Pisiri, son of Astiru II(?)     ca. 740–717; defeated by Sargon II of Assyria