History Files

Near East Kingdoms

Ancient Syria


Carchemish (Syria)

Occupied from about 3000 BC onwards, Carchemish (or Karchemiš / Karkemish) was probably first settled as much as 9,000 years ago. It was located on the western bank of the Euphrates on the northern border of modern Syria, around a hundred kilometres north-east of Alep (now on Turkey's frontier with Syria). It formed part of the first wave of city states which appeared in ancient Syria and northern Mesopotamia in the second half of the third millennium, and commanded a strategic crossing of the Euphrates for caravans engaged in Syrian, Mesopotamian, and Anatolian trade. Tombs found there date from about 2300 BC, while the city was also mentioned in documents found in the Ebla archives.

In the second millennium it was mentioned by Mari and Alalakh, and was an important centre for the trade in timber. In later years Carchemish found itself between the Egyptian, Mitanni and Hittite empires, and was known as Europas by the Greeks and Romans. Identified in 1876 and excavated between 1911-1914, today it forms an extensive set of ruins.

c.2004 BC

Following the collapse of Sumer, Amorites gain control of much of Mesopotamia, including the Syrian city of Carchemish.

c.1800 BC


Mentioned by Mari and Alalakh.

c.1809 - 1776 BC

Northern Mesopotamia and areas of Syria are conquered by the kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia. Following the death of Shamshi-Adad in 1776 BC the kingdom swiftly breaks up, with minor kingdoms reasserting themselves throughout the region. Carchemish falls under the domination of Yamkhad, the most powerful state in north-western Syria.

c.1650 - 1620 BC

Yamkhad controls north-western Syria, and becomes a key target for attacks by the newly created Hittite kingdom to its north. They attack and destroy several of Yamkhad's vassals over several years, and Carchemish is one such victim, falling under Hittite control. They administer the city and its dependant region though Hittite viceroys.

c.1595 BC

Hittite power declines in the region to be replaced by that of Mitanni.

c.1503 BC

Thutmose I invades the Levant and Syria, sweeping through much of it and raising a stele at Carchemish to commemorate his victory (so far undiscovered by archaeology). Egypt establishes a presence but does not appear to remain in force.

c.1478 BC

A resurgent Egypt expands rapidly through Palestine and reaches Mitanni-controlled Syria.

c.1340 BC

The Hittites are resurgent under Suppiluliuma and recapture the city from Egypt. Suppiluliuma places one of his sons in Carchemish as viceroy.

Hittite Princes of Carchemish / Ashtata

Once Suppiluliuma had reorganised Hittite control of northern Syria and had suppressed Mitanni, Hittite princes were placed on the throne of Carchemish as regional representatives of the empire. Initially, the cities of Ahuna, Ekalte, and Terqa were given to Piyashshili (who was renamed Sarri-Kusuh by the Hittite king) to be governed from Carchemish: 'And all of the cities of the land of Carchemish, Murmurik, Shipri, Mazuwati and _urun - these fortified cities - I gave to my son,' he said in a treaty with the Mitanni puppet king, Shattiwaza. The cities were initially lumped together under the name of Ashtata, which seems to have encompassed much of former Mitanni west of the Euphrates.

Piyashshili and his successors were also responsible for managing many of the local cities, such as Emar, which retained its ruling house as a vassal state. The city became one of the empire's most important centres, surviving the collapse of its overlord at the end of the thirteenth century to find itself with a small empire in south-east Anatolia and northern Syria up to the west bend of the Euphrates. The city's patron was the (apparently Hurrian) goddess Kubaba.

c.1336 - 1324 BC

Piyashshili (Sarri-Kusuh/Shar-Kushukh)

Son of Hittite Suppiluliuma I. Viceroy of Syria.

c.1326 - 1325 BC

Sarri-Kusuh takes part in the Hittite invasion of Arzawa.

c.1324 (1315?) BC

Sarri-Kusuh's death soon afterwards prompts a revolt against Hittite rule in Syria at the same time as Hayasa-Azzi is also attacking and seizing Hittite territory. An army is sent in to quell the revolt.


Son. First part of name unknown.

1300/1286 BC

Following the Battle of Kadesh, in which the forces of Egypt are held off by the Hittites, the city of Kadesh is given over to Ashtata's governance by the Hittite king.



fl c.1230s BC

Ini-Teshub I

fl c.1200 BC


c.1200 BC

The state is probably attacked by the Sea Peoples during the collapse of the Hittite empire, as much of Anatolia and western Syria are ravaged at this time. Carchemish also attempts to help the Hittite dependency of Ugarit to survive, without success, and loses Emar at the same time.

Carchemish itself does survive under its Hittite rulers who continue to term themselves 'Great King', and it is likely that Arpad, Bit Adini, and probably Yadiya, fall under their control. However, they are unable to keep the region unified, and an increasing number of small states develop over the following century. The rulers of one of these states, Kummuhu, claims direct descent from Kuzi-Teshub.

fl c.1170 BC



c.1150 BC

Ini-Teshub II

c.1100 BC




Suhis I


Suhis II

fl c.900 BC


fl c.890s BC


An Aramaic name. Not shown in all lists.

882 BC

Carchemish loses its imperial possessions and pays tribute to Assyria.

870 BC

Assyria has been subjugating Syrian states since 884 BC, and Carchemish apparently now becomes a vassal state itself. To the Assyrians, the king of Carchemish is known as the 'king of Khatti', a remembrance of the days of dominance of the region from Hatti and its neo-Hittite descendants.

870 - 848 BC


Paid tribute to Assyria in 857.

c.840 BC


c.815 BC

Yariris / Araras

c.790 BC



c.760 BC


738 - 717 BC


Last native king.

743 - 740 BC

During the reign of Pisiris, the Assyrians under Tiglath-Pileser III besiege and destroy Bit Agusi as it is an ally of Urartu. A coalition of princes which had been allied to the city is also defeated, including the kings of Kummuhu, Que, Carchemish, and Gurgum.

c.717 BC

Sargon I's Assyria conquers the city and places one of its own people on the throne. The city's populace are deported and Assyrian colonists are brought in to replace them.

c.680s? BC


Assyrian client king.

612 BC

Assyria falls and Carchemish is possibly free for a time.

605 BC

Egypt fights Babylonia in an attempt to cut its trade routes across the Euphrates and prevent it advancing any further westwards. Babylonia wins the encounter and expels Egypt from Syria. Carchemish's importance is greatly diminished and the city is eventually abandoned.

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