KARKAR (Qarqar), city on the Orontes, S. of Hamath and within its territory, now Khirbat Qarqur (the name signifies "flat (valley-earth) formation" (cf. Heb. קרקור, Judg. 8:10; Akk. Qaqqaru; cf. also קרקע). Karkar is famous as the site of a battle between Shalmaneser III of Assyria and a coalition of kings who came to the aid of Irḫuleni king of Hamath. It is described on the monolith of Shalmaneser III found at Kurkh, some 20 miles south of Diyarbakir in Turkey (now in the British Museum), and mentioned in his various other inscriptions. The Assyrian king gives a detailed description of the forces of the 12 kings allied against him. The list, arranged in three groups – chariots, cavalry, and foot soldiers – is as follows (Monolith from Kurkh, col. 2, lines 90ff.):
1,200 chariots; 1,200 riding horses [i.e., cavalrymen]; 20,000 [foot-]soldiers of Adad-idri [Hadadezer = "Ben-Hadad II"] from Damascus [Imērišu]; 700 chariots; 700 riding horses [i.e., cavalrymen]; 10,000 [foot-] soldiers of Irḫuleni [Erḫuleni] from Hamath [Amatai(a/u)]; 2,000 chariots; 10,000 [foot-] soldiers of Ahab the Israelite [Aḫabbu (māt) Sir-ʾi-la-aii(u/a),
The battle was joined in the sixth year of Shalmaneser III (853 B.C.E.). The inscription thus supplies the first extra-biblical confirmation of biblical chronology. The fact of *Ahab's participation in the battle of Karkar (side by side with his inveterate foes, the Arameans of Damascus, but see Ahab; *Ben-Hadad) is not mentioned in the Bible. The coalition was established to counter the growing Assyrian menace; although Shalmaneser gives a glowing account of the slaughter he wrought and of the capture of Karkar, the fact is that the battle ended in a stalemate and the Assyrian advance was halted (see *Jehu; *Mesopotamia, History). The great number of Ahab's chariots finds corroboration in the redating of the stables found at Megiddo (strata IV–V) to the period of Ahab instead of Solomon (see Yadin and Malamat in bibl.).
GENERAL: Y. Yadin, in: IEJ, 8 (1958), 80–86; idem, in: BA, 23 (1960), 62–68; W.W. Hallo, ibid., 37ff.; H. Tadmor, in: IEJ, 11 (1961), 143–50; A. Malamat, in: J. Liver (ed.), Historyah Ẓeva'it shel Ereẓ Israel… (1965), 246ff.; Bright, Hist., 223–4. TEXTS: G. Smith, in: H.C. Rawlinson (ed.), The Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, 3 (1870), pls. 7–8; Luckenbill, Records, 1 (1925), 594–611; Pritchard, Texts, 278ff.; E. Michel, in: Die Welt des Orients (1952), 454ff. CHRONOLOGY: E.R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (19652), 50–51.