A joint Italian-Turkish archaeological team finished its second season of excavations at Karkemish at the end of October. Photo: Dan Thompson
Last year, for the first time since the Turkish War of Independence, a team of archaeologists returned to Karkemish, an ancient city on the Syria-Turkey border. Led by Nicolò Marchetti of Bologna University, the joint Italian-Turkish team recently finished its second season of excavations at the site, building on the work of British Museum teams that included T.E. Lawrence, who later became famous as “Lawrence of Arabia.”
This week, an Associated Press (AP) wire story about Karkemish ran in a number of the world’s biggest media outlets. The article shone new light on the site, from its ancient history as a strategic city along the Euphrates held by the Mitanni, Hittite and Neo-Assyrian Empires, to the artifacts and remains of palaces and temples uncovered by British archaeologists in the early 20th century, to Marchetti’s team’s plans to study, conserve and open Karkemish to the public in 2014.
“You do feel a connection with what has been written, with what has been found and, of course, with the people who were here,” said Marchetti.
In October, Marchetti hosted Dr. Dan Thompson, GHF’s Director of Global Projects and Global Heritage Network (GHN), for a week-long visit to witness the research being carried out and to discuss Marchetti’s goal of creating a national park that covers the archaeological site and the natural beauty of the nearby river. GHF has provided support for planning at Karkemish, whose rich ancient history as the site of an important battle mentioned in the Bible, as well as its setting, make it a strong candidate for eventual UNESCO World Heritage Site nomination.
The AP article also focuses on the current Syrian conflict and its effect on Karkemish, where in July insurgents ousted troops from the nearby Syrian town of Jarabulus. About one third of Karkemish lies within Syria, but the archaeological team said they felt safe during the 10-week excavation season on the Turkish side. However, the mayor of nearby Turkish town Karkamis said he hopes the region finds calm soon, in part because the area so badly needs tourism revenue.
Click here to read the entire Associated Press article
Click here to explore Karkemish, Turkey on Global Heritage Network (GHN)