©The Archaeological Settlements of Turkey - TAY Project


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370 m
Southeastern Anatolia
Investigation Method:


Location: The site of Karkamis/Carchemish lies southeast of the city of Gaziantep; approximately 30 m south of the town of Nizip; at the Turkish-Syrian border; between Barak and Cerablus (Jerablus).
Geography and Environment: The site; which lies on the western bank of the Euphrates River; has an important location because it lies on major trade routes. The site is approximately 900x900 m in size.
Research and Excavation: The site of Karkamis/Carchemish was discovered in 1876 by G. Smith. The first excavations at the site were conducted by the British Ambassador to Aleppo; P. Henderson in 1878-1881. In 1911-12; excavations were led by D.G Hogart; R. Campbell-Thompson and L. Woolley. In 1914 L. Woolley and T.E. Lawrence; in 1920 L. Woolley took over excavations at the site for the British Museum. Recently, the site was visited again by a team led by G. Algaze. After a long break, excavations were launched again in 2011 by N. Marchetti. Excavations are still going on under the directory of N. Marchetti. Karkamis is listed as an officially registered archaeological site by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Stratigraphy: Both excavation and surface finds revealed that the site had been inhabited more or less continuous from the Neolithic Age to the Iron Age. It was shown that the fortified settlement had a monumental gate during the Late Hittite Period. The EBA and Chalcolithic Age settlements are obscured by the remains of upper settlements. The EBA levels were uncovered on the southern slope of the mound same as the levels of the Chalcolithic Age during the excavation.
Small Finds: Architecture: Presence of EBA structures is exposed by a a thick deposit including debris of mudbricks; and it is suggested that the city was surrounded by fortification walls and the first walls were erected during that era. Settlements of those levels are considered to be small cities rather than simple villages. Human Remains: Graves uncovered at Karkamis dating to the beginning of EBA I (15 pieces in total) are divided into two types. It is suggested that some of the big pithos burials found together with the graves of Chalcolithic Age belong to the Jamdat Nasr Period; even to the Ur Dynasty I Period on the basis of the similarity of grave goods to the ones found in the cist graves dated to Ur Dynasty I Period [Woolley 1952:219-222]. The intramural graves uncovered in the level above those burials are dated to EBA II and III (Ur Dynasty III). They are claimed to be located under the floors of the houses as it was at the Titris settlement of Sanliurfa. Cist graves consist of a small four-cornered structure erected in dry-wall technique inside a four-cornered pit dug into the earth. For walls; big and flat stones were preferred. They are not treated. The dead were placed on the earth in hocker position leaning on their left side accompanied with the grave goods; and the graves were capped by a big flat stone or stones and then covered with earth. The orientation of the burials is indefinite. Size of the cist graves varies between 90x65 cm and 240x132 cm [Yakar 1985a:363]. They are bigger than their identical cist graves in Central Anatolia. Özgüç relates the production of such bigger graves with the richness of grave goods [Özgüç 1948:36; footnote 130]. Grave Goods: Graves are very rich in goods. The most common grave good is the goblet-like beaker with its foot; thin and long shaft and flat upper body. Those beakers even led these graves to be called "graves with goblets". Also found are bowls and ring-footed jugs. Personal belongings of the dead were left beside. In female graves; necklaces; pins and bracelets are common while there are bronze spearheads; daggers; blades and maces in males' graves. Samples of spearheads are dominated by Sumerian type of spearheads. Among various other finds are grinding stones; chisels; spikes; loomweights; flat axes. Besides sliced conical pins with conic or lentil heads [Egeli 1995:190; pic 12; 14]; fibula with eyelet and body was found. There is a different type of pin with animal head [Egeli 1995:pl.13/58].
Interpretation and Dating: Metallic finds recovered at Karkamis; partly; helped dating the graves. For example; dating some of the weapons to Ur Dynasty III-Akkads Period resulted in dating the graves to the same period. Goblet-like fruit stands are also dated to the end of EBA while same type of fruit stands found at Birecik Cemetery and Hacinebi Cemetery proved the presence of those vessels in the earlier periods of EBA. However; J. Yakar claims that the culture of which such vessels also seen at settlements like Til Barsip in Northern Mesopotamia do not belong to a local culture; but they were brought by the nomads to the region [Yakar 1985a:363].

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