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Largest Babylonian tablet found on Turkish-Syrian border

February 11, 2014 at 9:32 am

What could be the largest discovered inscribed tablet (stele), dating to the reign of Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II between 605-562 BC, has been discovered in the Turkish city of Karkamis on the military zone along the Turkey-Syria border.

Noting that the excavations sites are untroubled despite their proximity to the Syrian civil war, Dr. Nicola Marchetti said the Karkamis archeological museum is scheduled to open next year.

“Excavations are right on a military zone with 55 hectares in Turkey and 35 in Syria,” said Marchetti, the head of the Turkish and Italian excavation teams, at a press conference held in the Assembly Hall of the Metropolitan Municipality.

Excavations this year also unearthed a cuneiform tablet at the palace of Carchemish king Katuwa dating to 800 BC, as well as over 300 sculptures, a Luwian hieroglyphic inscription and a mosaic.

Referring to the Treaty of Kadesh signed between Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II and Hittite King Hattusili III around 1259 BC, Gaziantep Mayor Asim Guzelbey said, “the Treaty of Kadesh carries great importance today given that four thousand years after the signing of the world’s first written peace treaty, people continue to kill each other and spill their brothers’ blood.”

Carchemish, which Karkamis is part of, was an important capital in the Mitanni, Hittite and Neo Assyrian Empires which primarily British archeologists have intermittently sought to explore for over a century. Efforts, begun by British consul general in Aleppo Patrick Henderson in 1876, were later pursued by English agents D.G. Hogarth, Campbell Thompson and C. Leonard Wooley as well as T.E. Lawrence, the renowned Lawrence of Arabia. Wooley’s application to recommence excavations in 1920 were denied by the Turkish military.

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