Land mines to be cleared in ancient city of Karkamış

Land mines to be cleared in ancient city of Karkamış

Murat Keklik

October 23, 2009, Friday/ 17:54:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES
A tender for the clearance of land mines by hand in the ancient city of Karkamış, located on the mined Syrian border in Gaziantep, has been won by Nokta Yatırım with a bid of TL 1.1 million.

The company will begin to clear the minefield once a contract is signed and the area is consigned to them. It will be the first time land mines will be removed by hand in Turkey. The task is expected to be completed within 300 days. Once the land mines are removed from the archaeological site, the centuries-old history of Karkamış will be revealed through excavations, turning the city into a tourist attraction. Universities in Japan, Italy and the US have already made requests to carry out excavations.

Nokta Yatırım's owner, Murat Keklik (38), told the Anatolia news agency that they are aware of the difficulty of the task. “We are not going to subcontract this to another company. We are going to set up our own expert team. We are going to put a retired military officer in charge. We are receiving applications from retired commissioned and noncommissioned officers from the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK]. During the process of land mine clearance, there is an obligation to employ an expert staff of 20 people that includes archaeologists and art historians. I plan on finishing the job before the 300-day time period ends. If necessary, I will increase the team of experts to 40. I am working to keep the number of mine-clearance experts within the team as high as possible. Aside from the TSK and the police, there are people who have cleared mines during their compulsory military service. We are evaluating them as well.”

Karkamış: an untouched ancient city

The ancient city of Karkamış is located in Gaziantep's Karkamış district near the western shore of the Euphrates River and is one of the most important settlement areas of Near Eastern archaeology. It is located on an important intersection of roads that linked Anatolia to Mesopotamia and to Egypt in the 12th century. The few excavations carried out in the area have revealed that that city had been inhabited since the Neolithic period. The epic of Gilgamesh was portrayed on reliefs in Karkamış from the Hittite period. Reliefs uncovered from the ancient site are currently on display at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.

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