It was the location of an important battle, about 605 BC, between the Babylonians and Egyptians, mentioned in the Bible (Jer. 46:2). Modern neighbouring cities are Karkamış in Turkey and Jarabulus in Syria (also Djerablus, Jerablus, Jarablos, Jarâblos); the original form of the modern toponym seems to have been Djerabis or Jerabis, likely derived from Europos, the ancient name of the Hellenistic-Roman settlement.
Carchemish is now an extensive set of ruins (90 hectares, of which 55 lie in Turkey and 35 in Syria), located on the West bank of Euphrates River, about 60 kilometres (37 mi) southeast of Gaziantep, Turkey, and 100 kilometres (62 mi) northeast of Aleppo, Syria. The site is crossed by the Baghdad Railway that now forms the Turco-Syrian border. A Turkish military base has been built on the Carchemish acropolis and Inner Town, and access to that part of the site is presently restricted. Most of the Outer Town lies in Syrian territory.
Carchemish has always been well known to scholars because of several references to it in the Bible (Jer. 46:2; 2 Chr. 35:20; Isa. 10:9) and in Egyptian and Assyrian texts. However, its location was identified only in 1876 by George Smith. Carchemish had been previously identified, incorrectly, with the Classical city of Circesium, at the confluence of the Khabur River and the Euphrates; while some early scholars thought that Jarabulus could be Hierapolis Bambyce, that site is actually located at Manbij in Syria.
The site was excavated by the British Museum, between 1878 and 1881 through Consul Patrick Henderson and between 1911 and 1914 under the direction of D. G. Hogarth. In 1911 on the field there were D. G. Hogarth himself, R. C. Thompson, and T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"), from 1912 to 1914 C. L. Woolley and T. E. Lawrence, while a last campaign took place in 1920 with C. L. Woolley and Philip Langstaffe Ord Guy. Excavations were interrupted in 1914 by World War I and then ended in 1920 with the Turkish War of Independence. These expeditions uncovered substantial remains of the Assyrian and Neo-Hittite periods, including defensive structures, temples, palaces, and numerous basalt statues and reliefs with Luwian hieroglyphic inscriptions.
With the completion of mine clearing operations on the Turkish portion of the site, archaeological work was resumed in September 2011. Excavations in the Inner and Outer Towns were carried out by a joint Turco-Italian team from the Universities of Bologna , Gaziantep and Istanbul under the direction of Prof. Dr. Nicolò Marchetti. The second season, from August to November 2012, brought several new art findings and archaeological discoveries, the most remarkable of which is Katuwa's Palace (c. 900 BC) to the east of the Processional Entry. The third season, from May to October 2013, extended the exposure of Katuwa's palace, retrieving a cuneiform tablet with an exorcism in the name of the god Marduk, as well as the ruins of Lawrence's excavation house in the Inner Town, from which literally hundreds of fragments of sculptures and hieroglyphic inscriptions have been retrieved. The fourth season started in May 2014 and continued through October 2014: in Katuwa's palace several orthostats exquisitely carved with a procession of gazelle-bearers have been found, some of them in situ, next to a courtyard paved with squared slabs. In the Neo Assyrian period that courtyard was covered by a mosaic floor made of river pebbles forming squares alternating in black and white color. Lawrence's excavation house was completely excavated. During the fifth season, April to October 2015, more significant discoveries have been made in the palace area, both for Late Hittite sculptures, and Neo Assyrian refurbishments, with tens of items - including two fragments of clay prysmatical cylinders inscribed with a unique cuneiform text by Sargon, intended for display, telling how he captured and reorganized the city of Karkemish - retrieved in a 14-m-deep well, sealed in 605 BC at the time of the Late Babyonian takeover. The sixth season, May to July 2016, saw a number of excavation areas opened also near the border, due to the added security represented by the construction of the wall (see below). Thus, in 2016 a complete stratigraphic record was obtained also for peripheral areas, greatly adding to our understanding of urban development between LB II and the Achaemenid period. In the seventh season, from 7th May to 18th July 2017, the major breakthroughs were the beginning of the excavations on the north-western end of the acropolis and the discovery in the eastern Lower Palace area of a monumental building dating from the LB II. Among the finds, in addition to new sculpted complete artworks from the Iron Age, fragments of Imperial Hittite clay cuneiform tablets and c. 250 inscribed bullae should be mentioned. Conservation and presentation works have now been completed in view of the opening on 12th May 2018 of an archaeological park at the site, thanks to the support also of Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality . Financial support has been received by the three Universities mentioned above, by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Sanko Holding , with the technical support also of Şahinbey Municipality and Inta A.Ş.