(2 Chron. 35:20; 2 Ki. 23:29; Isa. 10:9; Jer. 46:2)
miles southeast of Gaziantep and 60 miles northeast of Aleppo (Syria),
the ancient city of Carchemish has been located in ruins along the western bank
of the Euphrates River. The strategic city guarded the main ford across the
river in antiquity, and now lay close to the Turkish-Syrian border.
The importance of the city as a trade center is demonstrated
in that it was mentioned as far back as the C18 BCE in epigraphy finds at Mari
and Alalakh. It had treaty relationships with Ugarit and Mitanni, and traded as
a Hittite state after about the C14 BCE until the fall of Pisiris (717 BCE) at
the hands of Sargon II of Assyria. Though the city paid tribute to Asshurbanipal
II and Shalmenezzar III (C9 BCE), Sargon II wanted to take the city because the
Persians treated the city as the strongest of the Hittites.
Pharoah Neco of Egypt (605 BCE)
crossed the Jezreel Valley at Megiddo to move onto Carchemish and take the city.
He wanted the base to contain the Persian advance to the West, and wanted to cut
off the western trade that helped sustain the power in the Persian Gulf. The
strategy eventually failed as Egypt was defeated in a surprise entry to the city
by the army of Nebucadnezzar II (summer 605 BCE) that forced a hand to hand
fight (Jer. 46:2). The Babylonian Chronicle captured the details of the battle
and the aftermath.
Significant excavations were carried out in for the British Museum in 1876 to 1879, and again in 1912-14. C.L.Wooley published both in three volumes called Carchemish. The excavations exposed the outer south and west gates, the wall of the citadel with two more gates, numerous reliefs and statues of Hittite origin, and a temple complex.