As if to demonstrate the endless cycles of war that human beings are prone to, one of the most important archaeological sites in Turkey lies on their border with Syria and also happens to have been the site of a famous Biblical battle. The site is called Karkemish, a rich tapestry of temples, palaces and carvings depicting the world as it was dozens of centuries in the past. And for one reason or another, it has been quite the task for archaeologists to finally get the site unearthed.
The first record of war in this area comes in the defeat of Assyrian and Egyptian armies at the hands of the Babylonians, more than 5000 years ago. From there, the history of the region is mostly unrecorded, until it was found once more and set for excavation.
The world famous T.E. Lawrence (better known as Lawrence of Arabia) was part of one of the original attempts to clear away the earth from the location, though that attempt was stopped by war as well - World War I to be precise. When workers went back, again they were stopped, this time by a conflict between the Turks and French in the region.
The message behind Karkemish seems to be that war will always repeat itself. For thousands of years people have been killing each other, and that’s only what we know from recorded history. Today, it’s Syrians doing the killing, bringing their own echoes of the past. It is ironic that this important battle site is being consistently halted by war, as if to remind us of something.
Excavators hope to have the site open so that the public can view it by the year 2014, though the presence of the Syrian Civil War makes that timeline questionable. A fair portion of the site is on the Turkish site and is already being overrun by settlers there. Not to mention the possibility of war coming to the area.
Hopefully, none of the site will end up more damaged than it already has been over the last century. And maybe human beings will learn something from this - that war leads to little more than destruction and that we must learn the lessons of the past in order to have a better future.