Archaeology and war don't usually mix, yet that's been the case for years at Karkemish, an ancient city on the Turkey-Syria border where an excavation team is boasting of its latest treasures found just meters (yards) from Islamic State-controlled territory.

Karkemish, dating back more than 5,000 years, is close to the Syrian city of Jarablous, which now flies the black banner of the Islamic extremist group fighting in the Syrian conflict.

Nicolo Marchetti, a University of Bologna professor and team leader, says the site is secured by Turkish soldiers and tanks.

The importance of Karkemish has been long known to scholars because of references in ancient texts.

Excavation work was halted by World War I and again by hostilities between Turkish nationalists and French colonizers from Syria.