Carchemish (/kɑːrˈkɛmɪʃ/ kar-KEM-ish), also spelled Karkemish (Hittite: Karkamiš; Turkish: Karkamış; Greek: Εὔρωπος; Latin: Europus), was an important ancient capital in the northern part of the region of Syria. At times during its history the city was independent, but it was also part of the Mitanni, Hittite and Neo-Assyrian Empires. Today it is on the frontier between Turkey and Syria.
It was the location of an important battle, about 605 BC, 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); the original form of the modern toponym seems to have been Djerabis or Jerabis, likely derived from Europos, the ancient name of the Hellenistic-Roman settlement.
Viceroyalty of Carchemish / Kingdom of Carchemish
|c. 1321 BC–717 BC|
Carchemish among the Neo-Hittite states
|Common languages||Hittite, Hieroglyphic Luwian|
|Historical era||Bronze Age, Iron Age|
|c. 1321 BC|
|Today part of|| Turkey|
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. The site includes an acropolis along the river, an Inner Town encircled by earthen ramparts and an Outer Town (most of which lies in Syrian territory). A Turkish military base has been estabilished at the site and access but only the acropolis is presently of restricted access.
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; while some early scholars thought that Jarabulus could be Hierapolis Bambyce, 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. C. 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. Excavations were interrupted in 1914 by World War I and then ended in 1920 with the Turkish War of Independence. 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. Between 1956 and 1998 the whole site had been mined by the Turkish Land Forces.
With the completion in February 2011 of mine clearing operations on the Turkish portion of the site, archaeological work was resumed in September 2011. Excavations in the Inner and Outer Towns were carried out by a joint Turco-Italian team from the Universities of Bologna, Gaziantep, and University of Istanbul under the direction of Prof. Dr. Nicolò Marchetti. 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 fourth season started in May 2014 and continued through October 2014: in Katuwa's palace several orthostats exquisitely carved with a procession of gazelle-bearers have been found, some of them in situ, next to a courtyard paved with squared slabs. In the Neo Assyrian period that courtyard was covered by a mosaic floor made of river pebbles forming squares alternating in black and white color. Lawrence's excavation house was completely excavated. During the fifth season, April to October 2015, more significant discoveries have been made in the palace area, both for Late Hittite sculptures, and Neo Assyrian refurbishments, with tens of items—including two fragments of clay prysmatical cylinders inscribed with a unique cuneiform text by Sargon, intended for display, telling how he captured and reorganized the city of Karkemish—retrieved in a 14-m-deep well, sealed in 605 BC at the time of the Late Babyonian takeover. The sixth season, May to July 2016, saw a number of excavation areas opened also near the border, due to the added security represented by the construction of the wall (see below). Thus, in 2016 a complete stratigraphic record was obtained also for peripheral areas, greatly adding to our understanding of urban development between LB II and the Achaemenid period. In the seventh season, from 7th May to 18th July 2017, the major breakthroughs were the beginning of the excavations on the north-western end of the acropolis and the discovery in the eastern Lower Palace area of a monumental building dating from the LB II. Among the finds, in addition to new sculpted complete artworks from the Iron Age, fragments of Imperial Hittite clay cuneiform tablets and c. 250 inscribed bullae should be mentioned. The eighth season lasted from 4th May to 20th July 2019 and revealed a massive palace on the top of the acropolis dating from Late Bronze II, exposed more architecture and finds from the LB II administrative building in area C East (which seems to be the Hittite E2.KI$IB) and more of the Iron I storage facility in area S. Conservation and presentation works have now been completed and the archaeological park at the site is finally open since July 13th 2019, thanks to the support also of Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality and Gaziantep Governorate: the site may be visited between 9 am and one hour before sunset through guided tours every two hours for security reasons. Financial support has been received by the three Universities mentioned above, by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Sanko Holding, with the technical support also of Şahinbey Municipality and Inta A.Ş.
Archaeological investigations on the Syrian side have been conducted as part of the Land of Carchemish project: 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 the late Professors T. J. Wilkinson and E. Peltenburg. The Outer Town area lying in Syria has been designated an endangered cultural heritage site and labelled “at risk” by the Global Heritage Fund, due to the agricultural expansion and, especially, the urban encroachment. The field assessment of the Syrian part of the Outer Town documented that parts of the modern border town of Jerablus encroached upon the Outer Town. In February 2016, a prefabricated security wall (thus with no foundations that could have damaged the ancient site) has been completed by the Turkish Army to the south of the railway, stretching between the Euphrates bridge and the train station of Karkamış. In August 2019, the City Council of Jerablus issued a decree with which the archaeological area in the Syrian side has been declared a protected one.
The site has been occupied since the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods (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 c. 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 (c. 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. King Kuzi-Tesup I is attested in power here and was the son of Talmi-Teshub who was a contemporary of the last Hittite king, Suppiluliuma II. He and his successors ruled a "mini-empire" stretching from Southeast Asia Minor to Northern Syria and the West bend of the Euphrates 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. This powerful polity lasted from c.1175 to 975 BC when it began losing control of its farther possessions and became gradually a more local city state centered around Carchemish.
The patron goddess of Carchemish was Kubaba, a deity of apparently Hurrian origins. She was represented as a dignified woman wearing a long robe, standing or seated, and holding a mirror. The main male deity of the town was Karhuha, akin to the Hittite stag-god Kurunta.
In the 9th century BC, King Sangara 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 2015, for the first time, the name of Sangara has been documented in a hieroglyphic inscription originally coming from the site itself (it is the top part of the stele drawn in 1876 by G. Smith, on whom see below, and transported in 1881 to the British Museum). The Assyrians turned the site into an important provincial capital.
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.
After a brief Neo-Babylonian occupation, the Turco-Italian excavations found evidence for three phases of Achaemenid occupation, a significant reconstruction in Hellenistic times, a monumental phase from the Late Roman period, an Early Byzantine and three Abbasid phases before the final abandonment of the site until the early 1900s.
===Kings of Carchemish===
|Ruler||Proposed reign (BC)||Notes|
|Adni-anda (?)||c. ? to 1786|
|Aplah-anda I||c. 1786 to 1764||son of Adni-anda|
|Yatar-Ami||c. 1764 to 1763||son of Aplah-anda I|
|Yahdun-Lim||c. 1763 to 1745?||son of Bin-Ami|
|Aplah-anda II||c. 1745? to ?||son of Yahdun-Lim?|
|Piyassili or Sharri-Kushukh||c. 1315||son of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma I|
|[ ... ]sharruma||son of Piyassilis|
|Shakhurunuwa||son of Piyassilis|
|Ini-Teshub I||c. 1230s|
|Kuzi-Teshub||c. 1170||claimed the title of "Great King" after the fall of Hatti|
|Ini-Teshub II||c. 1100|
|Tudhaliya||c. 1100||either before or after Ini-Teshub II|
|Suhi I||c. 975|
|Suhi II||c. 925|
|Suhi III||c. 890|
|Yariri (regent)||c. 815|
|Pisiri||c. 730s||the last king, defeated in 717 by Sargon II|
The Battle of Carchemish was fought about 605 BC between the armies of Egypt allied with the remnants of the army of the former Assyrian Empire against the armies of Babylonia, allied with the Medes, Persians, and Scythians.Battle of Hamath
The battle of Hamath, sometimes called The battle of Hama, was a battle between the Babylonians and the fleeing remains of the Egyptian army defeated at Carchemish. It was fought near the ancient city Hamath on the Orontes.
In this battle Nebuchadrezzar further shattered the remains of Necho II's Egyptian army that he had previously defeated in the Battle of Carchemish. The battle is mentioned in the Babylonian Chronicles, now housed in the British Museum. In the Chronicles it states that Nebuchadrezzar II killed almost all of the Egyptian combatants, so exhausted that none of them returned to their own country. The Chronicles do not mention Necho and the Bible only mentions 'Necho's army', and it is possible that Necho wasn't present and the Egyptian army was just a garrison army. He was dealing with various rebellions in the delta.Bit Adini
Bit Adini, a city or region of Syria, called sometimes Bit Adini in Assyrian sources, was an Aramaean state that existed as an independent kingdom during the 10th and 9th centuries BC, with its capital at Til Barsib (now Tell Ahmar). The city is considered one of the two chief states of the Aramean-held territories in the Euphrates along with Carchemish.It is considered an Early Iron Age Aramaean settlement between the Balih and the Euphrates rivers and extended northwards into northern Syria. It is usually thought to have been in the bend of the Euphrates River, south of Carchemish.Bit Agusi
Bit Agusi or Bit Agushi (also written Bet Agus) was an ancient Aramaean Syro-Hittite state, established by Gusi of Yakhan at the beginning of the 9th century BC. It had included the cities of Arpad, Nampigi (Nampigu) and later on Aleppo. Arpad was the capital of the state-kingdom. Bit Agusi stretched from the A'zaz area in the north to Hamath in the south.Hassum
Hassum (also given as Khashshum, Ḫaššum, Hassu, Hassuwa or Hazuwan) was a Hurrian city-state, located in southern Turkey most probably on the Euphrates river north of Carchemish.House of Astiruwa
The House of Astiruwa was the last known dynasty of rulers of Carchemish. The members of this dynasty are best known to us through Hieroglyphic Luwian sources. One member of the House of Astiruwa may also be referred to in Assyrian sources.House of Suhi
The House of Suhi was a dynasty of rulers of Carchemish. The members of this dynasty are best known to us through Hieroglyphic Luwian sources. Only one member of the house of Suhi is specifically mentioned in Assyrian sources. The House of Suhi was followed by a dynasty known as the House of Astiruwa.Ibiranu
Ibiranu (reigned c. 1235 BC – c. 1225/20 BC) was the sixth king of Ugarit, a city-state in northwestern Syria. He was the second-eldest son of Ammittamru II. Ibiranu's older step-brother and heir apparent to the throne, Utri-Sarruma, decided to leave the kingdom when his mother's marriage was annulled, and Ibiranu became the next king of Ugarit. Ibiranu reigned between c. 1235 and 1225/20 BC, and was a contemporary of Tudhaliya IV and Arnuwanda III of Hatti. As a vassal state of Hatti the king was answerable to the viceroy at Carchemish.After he became king, Ibiranu failed to present himself to the Hatti overlord as the diplomatic protocol of a vassal state required him to do. His failure to do so, and to send valuable gifts to compensate for his mistake raised concerns and he received several letters of reprimand from the local viceroy, Ini-Teshup, and the king's son, Pihawalwi. The letters, discovered among the cuneiform tablets found at Ugarit, also revealed that Ibiranu failed to send sufficient troops to participate in the king's campaigns. On suspicion that Ibiranu was keeping his best chariots in Ugarit, a letter from the Carchemish viceroy states that an inspector from the Hatti king would be sent to Ugarit to verify the number of troops at Ibiranu's disposal. The king's reluctance to present his allegiance to the Hittites seems to suggest a loss of confidence in their protection. This explanation is corroborated by a letter found in the Ugaritic archives addressed to Ibiranu from the Assyrian king, Tukulti-Ninurta I, describing the heavy defeat he inflicted on the Hittites in northern Mesopotamia.Kummuh
Kummuh was an Iron Age Neo-Hittite kingdom located on the west bank of the Upper Euphrates within the eastern loop of the river between Melid and Carchemish. Assyrian sources refer to both the land and its capital city by the same name. The city is identified with the classical-period Samosata (modern-day Samsat Höyük), which has now been flooded under the waters of a newly built dam. Urartian sources refer to it as Qumaha. The name is also attested in at least one local royal inscription dating to the 8th century BCE. Other places that are mentioned in historical sources as lying within Kummuh are lands of Kištan and Halpi, and cities of Wita, Halpa, Parala, Sukiti and Sarita(?). Kummuh bordered the kingdoms of Melid to the north, Gurgum to the west and Carchemish to the south, while to the east it faced Assyria and later Urartu.
Several indigenous rock inscriptions have been found in the region, all written in hieroglyphic Luwian, attesting to the continuity of Hittite traditions. In his annals, the Assyrian king Sargon II referred to the Kummuh ruler as 'Hittite', and several rulers of Kummuh bore the same names as famous Hittite kings of the 2nd millennium BCE: Hattušili(?), Šuppiluliuma, and Muwattalli (in Assyrian sources Qatazilu, Ušpilulume, and Muttallu, respectively).Kuzi-Teshub
Kuzi-Teshub (also read as Kunzi-Teshub) was a Neo-Hittite King of Carchemish, reigning in the early to mid-12th century BC., likely in 1180 - 1150 BC. He was the son of Talmi-Teshub, who was both the last viceroy of the Hittite Empire at Carchemish under Suppiluliuma II and a direct descendant of Suppiluliuma I. Kuzi-Teshub reigned in Carchemish as well as in the later Neo-Hittite Melid/Malatya.
In Carchemish, Kuzi-Teshub succeeded his father in office, probably first as viceroy, according to royal seal impressions found at Lidar Höyük in 1985 on the east bank of the Euphrates river. Kuzi-Teshub then styled himself as "Great King" of Carchemish, suggesting that the central Hittite dynasty at Hattusa had collapsed by this time and that he viewed himself as the legitimate heir of the line of Suppiluliuma I. More accurately, Kuzi-Teshub is styled as Great King in later inscriptions from Melid. The next known Great King of Carchemish was Ir-Teshub.Kuzi-Teshub is not proved to have ruled directly as King of Melid. On one hand, it is possible that he ruled directly in Melid, but on the other hand he may have installed his son PUGNUS-mili I as the local ruler in Melid. Both Kuzi-Teshub and PUGNUS-mili I are only known from inscriptions left by the autonomous kings of Melid, Runtiya and Arnuwanti I, who were sons of PUGNUS-mili I and grandsons of Kuzi-Teshub. The references to Kuzi-Teshub in his grandsons' inscriptions may indicate that Melid had peacefully separated from Carchemish.Piyassili
Piyassili (also transliterated as Piyaššili; died ca. 1315 BC), also known as Sarri-Kusuh (or Šarri-Kušuḫ), was a Hittite prince and a middle son of King Šuppiluliuma I—younger than the heir Arnuwanda II, but older than the eventual successor Muršili II and probably older than the ill-fated Zannanza too. After Šuppiluliuma concluded a treaty with Shattiwaza, son of King Tushratta of Mitanni, and married one of his daughters to him, Piyassili led a Hittite army that put Shattiwaza on the throne of Hanigalbat. According to Hittite sources, Piyassili and Shattiwaza crossed the Euphrates at Carchemish, then marched against Irridu, already in Hurrian territory. After having reduced Irridu and Harran, they continued east towards to Washshukani and perhaps conquered the capital Taite as well.Sangara (king)
Sangara or Sangar was a king of Carchemish, who until recently was known only from Assyrian sources, but who in 2015 was also identified in Hieroglyphic Luwian by the Turco-Italian Archaeological Expedition at Karkemish. He is documented for 870 to 848 BC.Sangara likely accessed the throne of Carchemish only a short time after king Katuwa known from Hieroglyphic Luwian sources. He is only mentioned in texts of the Assyrian kings Ashurnasirpal II and Shalmaneser III.First, Sangara was tributary of Ashurnasirpal II. In 870 BC (alternative dating: 882 BC) the Assyrian king crossed the Euphrates and first turned against Carchemish. Facing the Assyrian army Sangara capitulated quickly and paid a rich tribute because Carchemish was one of the wealthiest Syro-Hittite states of that time. He also had to send his chariotry, cavalry and infantry to support the Assyrian army. In return Sangara and Carchemish were spared by the Assyrians.In 858 BC Sangara participated in an anti-Assyrian coalition against Shalmaneser III which was formed by Aḫuni of Bit Adini, Hayyanu of Sam'al, Šuppiluliuma of Pattin and himself. They attacked the Assyrian army on the territory of Sam'al but were repelled. The uprising of Carchemish continued until Shalmaneser III destroyed the fortified city of Sazabu on the territory of Carchemish in 857 BC. Sangara capitulated and paid rich tribute.In 853 BC, Sangara paid tribute to the Assyrians again.In 849 BC, Sangara tried uprising again, this time forming an alliance with Hadram of Bit Agusi. Shalmaneser III invaded the state of Carchemish, destroying and burning several cities in Sangara's dominion. Sangara capitulated but not for long. In 848 BC, Hadram and he uprose again Shalmaneser III reacted by capturing and destroying 97 of Sangara's cities. For the period after 848 BC nothing more is known about Sangara but it is likely stayed on his throne as a faithful vassal of the Assyrian king as his ally Hadram of Bit Agusi did.Siege of Jerusalem (597 BC)
The Siege of Jerusalem was a military campaign carried out by Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon in 597 BC. In 605 BC, he defeated Pharaoh Necho at the Battle of Carchemish, and subsequently invaded Judah. According to the Nebuchadnezzar Chronicle, King Jehoiakim of Judah rebelled against Babylonian rule, but Nebuchadnezzar captured the city and installed Zedekiah as ruler.Syro-Hittite states
The states that are called Neo-Hittite or, more recently, Syro-Hittite were Luwian-, Aramaic- and Phoenician-speaking political entities of the Iron Age in northern Syria and southern Anatolia that arose following the collapse of the Hittite Empire in around 1180 BC and lasted until roughly 700 BC. The term "Neo-Hittite" is sometimes reserved specifically for the Luwian-speaking principalities, like Milid and Carchemish. However, in a wider sense the broader cultural term "Syro-Hittite" is now applied to all the entities that arose in south-central Anatolia following the Hittite collapse, such as Tabal and Quwê, as well as those of northern and coastal Syria.Talmi-Teshub
Talmi-Teshub was "the great-great-great-grandson of Suppiluliuma I" and a viceroy at Carchemish in Syria under Suppiluliuma II. According to royal seal impressions found at Lidar Höyük found in 1985 on the east bank of the Euphrates river, Talmi-Teshub was succeeded by his own son, Kuzi-Teshub.Til Barsip
Til Barsip or Til Barsib (Hittite Masuwari, modern Tell Ahmar; Arabic: تل أحمر) is an ancient site situated in Aleppo Governorate, Syria by the Euphrates river about 20 kilometers south of ancient Carchemish.Tudhaliya
Tudhaliya is the name of several Hittite kings:
Tudhaliya (also Tudhaliya I) is a hypothetic pre-Empire king of the Hittites. He would have reigned in the late 17th century BC (short chronology). Forlanini (1993) conjectures that this king corresponds to the great-grandfather of Hattusili I.
Tudhaliya I (also Tudhaliya II), ruled c. 1430 to 1400 BC
Tudhaliya II (also Tudhaliya III), ruled c. in the 1380s BC
Tudhaliya III (also "Tudhaliya the child") may have briefly ruled around 1358 BC.
Tudhaliya IV ruled around 1237 BC.
Tudhaliya, Neo-Hittite king of Carchemish, fl. c. 1100 BCSome biblical scholars suggested that Tidal, king of Nations, who is mentioned in the Book of Genesis 14 as having joined Chedorlaomer in attacking rebels in Canaan is based on one of the Tudhaliyas.Urshu
Urshu, Warsuwa or Urshum was a Hurrian-Amorite city-state in southern Turkey, probably located on the west bank of the Euphrates, and north of Carchemish.Yahdul-Lim
Yahdul-Lim was a king of Carchemish proposed to have reigned between 1764 and 1745 BCE.Son of Aplahanda, he succeeded his brother Yatar-Ami. Little is known about his reign.
Syro-Hittite states and cities