In an earlier post, we mentioned a dispute between Turkey and Germany over a gate sphinx which had been excavated at the Hittite capital of Hattusa and which is now on display in Berlin’s Pergamonmuseum. Turkey’s Minister of Culture and Tourism had threatened to withdraw Germany’s permit to excavate Hattusa if Germany did not return the sphinx. Previous requests by Turkey had been rejected, but now it seems Germany is willing to discuss the return of the sphinx. You can read more here.

Iran has “cut ties” with the Louvre, according to this report. The Louvre did not meet a deadline to decide which Persian objects in its holdings it would loan to Iran for exhibition. The same article makes mention of the Cyrus Cylinder which the British Museum loaned to Iran. The Cylinder was supposed to be returned in January, but the British Museum has agreed to extend the loan for an additional three months (see here).

Saudi Arabia has been showing 300 objects, including pre-Islamic artifacts, from its cultural heritage in an international exhibition named “Roads of Arabia.” We made mention of the exhibition here. A lengthy article (for the web, at least) in Aramco World gives some historical background to the exhibition. “Roads of Arabia” has already shown at the Louvre and in Barcelona. According to the article, the exhibition “will visit St. Petersburg, Berlin and Chicago through 2013.” (The map which accompanies the article is interesting. I cannot determine what scheme was used for labeling countries. Some modern states are labeled, such as Yemen, Qatar, and Kuwait. Other countries are not labeled, such as Iran and Israel. Turkey is labeled “Minor Asia.”)

HT: Jack Sasson


The site of Carchemish is located on the Euphrates River, straddling the Turkey-Syria border. The first excavations in 1878-1881 were conducted by the British consul in Aleppo, Patrick Henderson.

The main excavations at the site, however, took place in 1911-1914 and 1920. The first season was directed by D. G. Hogarth and R. Campbell Thompson. Subsequent seasons were directed by Sir C. Leonard Woolley with the assistance of T. E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) and, in the final year, with the assistance of P. L. O. Guy. The work was interrupted both by World War I (1914-1918) and by the Turkish War of Independence (1919-1923). After the Turkish War of Independence, the modern borders were established, and it became impossible to excavate Carchemish any further.

Carchemish, orthostat in the British Museum with relief of the Storm-god.

Now, 91 years later, work is underway to resume excavations at the ancient site. We remarked on this before, but an online news article now gives additional details. According to a piece in Hurriyet Daily News, the renewed excavations will be conducted by Italian and Japanese archaeologists and are set to begin sometime this year. In preparation for excavations, a contractor had to clear 1,200 landmines from the site. During the mine-clearing, some coins and other objects were retrieved from the site and turned over to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.