Ancient City of Karkemish Plans to Reopen to Tourists Despite War
The ancient city is deeply multicultural.
Turkish authorities are planning to reopen the ancient archeological site of Karkemish on the Syrian border to tourists by next year, Associated Press reported.
The historic site is set to receive visitors by May 2017, despite an ongoing civil conflict in neighboring Syria.
Karkemish was a Hittite city, part of a civilization that dominated parts of modern-day Turkey and Syria prior to 1700 B.C. Nearly 4,000 years old, the city straddled the banks of the Euphrates River.
“What makes Karkemish a really interesting site is that it is sort of between civilizations,” Eckart Frahm, an Assyriology expert from Yale University, told Travel + Leisure.
Much of the Hittite culture remains shrouded in mystery, as their remaining inscriptions are difficult to interpret, according to the Ancient History Encyclopedia. Archaeologist T.E. Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia, excavated the site before World War I.
Both Syrian and Turkish preservationists have struggled to protect the antiquities of their region as a Syrian civil war continues to rage into its fifth year. Turkish troops ousted ISIS militants from the site in August, and a team of Turkish and Italian archaeologists have been working to preserve the mosaics, sculptures, and other ancient objects.
The city was a multicultural center of ancient civilizations, and as such it is a target to militant groups that want to cleanse Syria and Iraq of diverse cultures and ideologies.
“Of course ISIS wants to destroy the multitude of languages, religions...and all that was represented in Karkemish,” Frahm said.