Excavations shed light on the Hittite and Assyrian history of Karkamış in Turkey


Historical artifacts unearthed during excavations by Turkish and Italian teams in the ancient city of Karkamış in southeastern Gaziantep province have revealed different perspectives on the region’s history and insight into the Assyro-Hittite relations.

Located along the Syrian border on the west coast of the Euphrates, Karkamış is one of the most important settlements in Near Eastern archeology, bearing the signs of the Hittites and Assyrians and the remains of the Hellenistic and Roman.

The excavations in the ancient site have focused on many areas and promise to shed light on the history of the city of Karkamış in detail. A report prepared by the Turkish-Italian team following the completion of the 10th excavation season at Karkamış highlights the importance of the ancient site.

According to the report, the team continued to find artifacts from the time of the Hittite Empire, when the city was at its height, in the eastern part of the lower palace area. Dozens of clay seals belonging to the highest officials of the Hittite administration were discovered in the administrative structure called the “House of the Seal” in this area. By determining which goods these seals were applied to, scholars are able to piece together the basic idea of ​​how the administration ruled the vassal kingdom of Karkamış.

Another significant find in the building was a bulla, a ball with seal impressions, which possibly belonged to Piradu, a prominent merchant in the Assyrian Middle Empire. It is believed that the elaboration of the identity of Piradu will contribute to the analysis of Hittite-Assyrian relations, which deteriorated towards the collapse of the Hittite state, and to the chronology of certain events of the period.

Another significant find is an Anatolian hieroglyphic inscription painted on a piece of pottery that reads “X-patu, the ruler of the city”, a find first encountered in Anatolia.

Additionally, excavations have revealed that the administration building continued to function during the Iron Age period, known as the “Dark Ages”. About 100 seals belonging to this period, including rare Anatolian hieroglyphic seal impressions, have been unearthed. It is also considered remarkable that about two-thirds of the seal impressions belong to a woman named Matiya. It is pointed out that this may be an indication that women may have played an important economic role in the administration of the state at the time.

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