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Kültepe

 

 

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World Heritage Site: Kültepe

 

Hittite palace at Kültepe

   
   

Kültepe (Turkish: "Ash Hill"), also known as Kanesh or Nesha, is an archaeological site in Kayseri Province, Turkey. The nearest modern city to Kültepe is Kayseri, about 20 km southwest. It consists of a tell, the actual Kültepe, and a lower town, where an Assyrian settlement was found. Its ancient names are recorded in Assyrian and Hittite sources. In Old Assyrian inscriptions from the 20th and the 19th century BCE, the city was mentioned as Kaneš (Kanesh); in later Hittite inscriptions, the city was mentioned as Neša (Nesha, Nessa, Nesa), or occasionally as Aniša (Anisha). In 2014, the archaeological site was inscribed in the Tentative list of World Heritage Sites in Turkey. It is the place where the earliest record of Hittite, dated to the 20th century BCE has been found.

 

Artifacts in Museum of Anatolian Civilizations Business Letter: Around 20,000 clay tablets were found at the site of Kültepe

 

Kaneš or Neša, inhabited continuously from the Chalcolithic to Roman times, flourished as an important Hattian, Hittite and Hurrian city, containing a large kārum (merchant colony) of the Old Assyrian Empire from c. the 21st to 18th centuries BC. This kārum appears to have served as "the administrative and distribution centre of the entire Assyrian colony network in Anatolia". A late, circa 1400 BCE record recounts the story of a king of Kaneš called Zipani with seventeen local city-kings who rose up against Naram-Sin of Akkad who ruled circa 2254–2218 BC.
 

Animal shaped rhyton from Kanesh (19th century BC) Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin A vessel shaped rhyton from Kültepe


During the kārum period, and before the conquest of Pithana, these local kings reigned in Kaneš:

  • Hurmili (before 1790 BC)
  • Pahanu (a short time in 1790 BC)
  • Inar (c. 1790-1775 BC), then
  • Waršama (c. 1775-1750 BC).[4]

The king of Zalpuwa, Uhna, raided Kanes, after which the Zalpuwans carried off the city's Šiuš idol. Pithana, the king of Kussara, conquered Neša "in the night, by force", but "did not do evil to anyone in it." Neša revolted against the rule of Pithana's son, Anitta, but Anitta quashed the revolt and made Neša his capital. Anitta further invaded Zalpuwa, captured its king Huzziya, and recovered the Šiuš idol for Neša.
 

Clay tablet inscribed with seal impressions


In the 17th century BC, Anitta's descendants moved their capital to Hattusa, which Anitta had cursed, thus founding the line of Hittite kings. The inhabitants thus referred to the Hittite language as Nešili, "the Neša tongue".

 

 

Kârum Kaneš
 

The quarter of the city that most interests historians is the kārum, a portion of the city that was set aside by local officials for the early Assyrian merchants to use without paying taxes as long as the goods remained inside the kārum. The term kārum means "port" in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the time, but its meaning was later extended to refer to any trading colony whether or not it bordered water.

Several other cities in Anatolia also had a kārum, but the largest was Kaneš, whose important kārum was inhabited by soldiers and merchants from Assyria for hundreds of years. They traded local tin and wool for luxury items, foodstuffs, spices and woven fabrics from the Assyrian homeland and Elam.

The remains of the kārum form a large circular mound 500 m in diameter and about 20 m above the plain (a tell). The kārum settlement is the result of several superimposed stratigraphic periods. New buildings were constructed on top of the remains of the earlier periods so there is a deep stratigraphy from prehistoric times to the early Hittite period.

The kārum was destroyed by fire at the end of levels II and Ib. The inhabitants left most of their possessions behind, as found by modern archaeologists.

The findings have included numerous baked-clay tablets, some of which were enclosed in clay envelopes stamped with cylinder seals. The documents record common activities, such as trade between the Assyrian colony and the city-state of Assur and between Assyrian merchants and local people. The trade was run by families rather than the state. The Kültepe texts are the oldest documents from Anatolia. Although they are written in Old Assyrian, the Hittite loanwords and names in the texts are the oldest record. Most of the archaeological evidence is typical of Anatolia rather than of Assyria, but the use of both cuneiform and the dialect is the best indication of Assyrian presence.


Dating of Waršama Sarayi
 

At Level II, the destruction was so total that no wood survived for dendrochronological studies. In 2003, researchers from Cornell University dated wood in level Ib from the rest of the city, built centuries earlier. The dendrochronologists date the bulk of the wood from buildings of the Waršama Sarayi to 1832 BC, with further refurbishments up to 1779 BC. In 2016 new research using carbondating and dendrology on timber used in this site and the palace in Acemhöyük show the likely earliest use of the palace as not before 1851–1842 BCE (1855–1839 BCE). In combination with the many Assyrian objects found here, this dating shows that only middle or low-middle chronology are the only remaining possible chronologies that fit these new data.

   
 
   
   

 

 

   

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