By Zuhal Kocalar and Mehmet Akif Parlak
GAZIANTEP, Turkey (AA) - An ancient city on the Turkey-Syria border, which was the most significant administration center of the Hittites who ruled over Anatolia and Mesopotamia for centuries, is gearing up to open for visitors.
“The ancient city of Karkamis is the richest historical place in the region,” Nicolo Marchetti, an archaeology professor at the University of Bologno in Italy and head of the excavation team at the site, told Anadolu Agency.
Marchetti said the area comes under an active military zone, but it will be opened as an archeological park soon.
The ancient city of Karkamis -- located in southeastern Gaziantep province -- will offer walking trails alongside excavation areas, cafeterias, recreational areas as well as remnants of a palace and temple, antique site excavation house, an avenue with Roman columns, sculptures and wall relief depicting an eagle-headed griffon.
Marchetti also said the ancient city is located west of the Euphrates River and it served as a significant junction for the route from Anatolia to Mesopotamia and Egypt in 2000 B.C.
Noting that Karkamis had been ruled by kings who also had control over the Hittites Empire’s lands in present-day Syria, he added that the first excavation works were conducted on behalf of the British Museum between the years of 1878-1881, 1911-1914 and 1919-1920.
He also said the excavation works have been ongoing since 2011 under an agreement between Turkey and Italy.
“When opened as an archeological park, this will attract attention of the tourists,” he said, adding that they have found many monuments, remnants and sculptures.
He added that people will be walking on the ancient stone-paved roads, which is the only sample and opportunity inherited from the Hittites Empire in Turkey.
Davut Gul, Gaziantep mayor, also said the ancient city hosted many civilizations throughout history.
“You can find the most precious works of art of the Hittites,” Gul said, noting the site will open for visits by the end of year.
* Writing by Sena Guler