Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Carchemish Renewed Excavations Draw Near

This isn't exactly breaking news, but I did not find any other blogs that had written about it, and it seems worthy of mention.

Back in September 2007, Turkish Daily News (now known as The Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review) reported that operations to clear the land mines near the site of Carchemish had commenced. At the time, it was estimated the clean-up would take about one-and-a-half years. Todd mentioned it here.

As a follow-up to this story, it was reported last December in Today's Zaman that the mines had been cleared and the land was now in the process of being turned over to the city. After bidding for the mine-clearing project, work actually commenced in March 2010. Three hundred days later, it was complete. Mine-sniffing dogs were used in the initial stages, and to avoid damaging antiquities, the mines were removed to another location for detonation (usually, mines are detonated on the spot). Now that the mines have been cleared, archaeologists will begin “serious and long-term” excavations, which it is hoped will attract tourism.

The site of ancient Carchemish is cut by the modern Turkey-Syria border. The citadel and inner town are located within Turkey, but most of the outer town is located in Syria. On the Turkish side is the modern village of Karkamiş and on the Syrian side is the village of Jerablus. As part of Turkey's attempts to open up trade with its neighbors, plans are underway to open three new border crossings with Syria by 2012, one of which will be located at Karkamiş.


For an account of the earlier excavations conducted by Sir Leonard Woolley, see here.

Carchemish from the northwest, view of citadel and inner town wall.

Carchemish citadel from the northwest.

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