The ancient city of Karkamis awaits to be covered from mines (Turkey)

Access to the ancient city of Karkamis in the southeastern province of Gaziantep is prohibited because it lies within a military zone that was covered with landmines in 1952 for security reasons. All eyes are turned toward finding a solution to the problem


Despite being criticized for not preserving its historic artifacts, Turkey has recently taken keen interest in the almost 7,000-year-old ancient city of Karkamis where none of the ancient city's artifacts have been damaged.

The ancient city lies within a military area, which was covered in mines 1952 to ensure border security and prevent illegal trade. Covering an area of 900 square meters, the ancient city of Karkamis, like a dead city awaiting to come to life again, is waiting for the day it will be cleared of mines. The city lies on the western shore of the Euphrates River and on Turkey's border with Syria. It is one of the most important settlements of Near Eastern archeology. After the Hittite Empire collapsed at the beginning of the 12th century B.C., the city became the center of one of the many Late Hittite Kingdoms. Assyrian King Sargon II destroyed the city in 717 B.C.

Brits excavated the region
The first excavation works in the region were carried out periodically between 1876-1881 by P. Henderson, the British consul general in Aleppo. D.G. Hogarth, Campbell Thompson and C. Leonard Wooley, who later turned out to be English agents, and T.E. Lawrence, known as Lawrence of Arabia, carried out the second excavation from March 1911 to spring 1914 on behalf of the British Museum. In 1920, Wooley applied to start excavations again, but the request was refused by Turkish military officials.

'Excavations, which have been carried out in a very limited area, show that the first settlements in the city date back 7,000 years. But almost all remains from this period are below ground. I hope that the region, which is in a strategic location in terms of the country's security, will be cleared of mines, and that excavations will start as soon as possible,' said Professor Fikri Kulakoglu from Ankara University's archaeology department.

If the region is cleared of mines, maybe the world's eyes will turn to Turkey and the remains to be removed from the ancient city. The solution to the problem depends on the reaction of the chief of general staff.

Von: 6.5.2008,, by Buket Güler

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