- General Information
- Archaeology of Kültepe
- How can I go there?
Kültepe (Turkish: Ash Hill) is a modern village near the ancient city of Kaneš or Kanesh (Hittite: Neša, occasionally Anisa), located in the Kayseri Province in Turkey. The nearest modern city to Kültepe is Kayseri, about 20 km southwest.Kültepe: An ancient Hittite city located in Kayseri, an Anatolian city famous for its rich history and scenic beautyLocated in Central Anatolia and harboring the ancient ruins of Kanesh, Kültepe is an important archaeological site shedding light on the history of the region.Wouldn’t you like to take a journey to antique sites and get steeped in ancient history?
Kaneš, inhabited continuously from the Chalcolithic period to Roman times, flourished as an important Hattic/Hittite/Hurrian city, which contained a large merchant quarter (kârum) of the Old Assyrian kingdom, from ca. 20th to 16th centuries BC. A late (c 1400 BC) witness to an old tradition includes a king of Kaneš called Zipani among seventeen local city-kings who rose up against the Akkadian Naram-Sin (ruled c.2254-2218 BC). It is the site of discovery of the earliest traces of the Hittite language, and the earliest attestation of any Indo-European language, dated to the 20th century BC. The native term for the Hittite language was nešili “language of Neša”.KanešaThe king of Zalpuwa, Uhna, raided Kanes, after which the Zalpuwans carried off the city’s “Sius” idol. Pithana, the king of Kussara, conquered level Ia 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 Sius idol for Neša.In the 17th century BC, Anitta’s descendents moved their capital to Hattusa (which Anitta had cursed), thus founding the line of Hittite kings. These people named their language Nešili, “the language of Neša”.
Archaeology of Kültepe
Central Anatolia during the karum-period In 1925, Bedrich Hrozný excavated Kultepe and found over 1000 cuneiform tablets, some of which ended up in Prague and some in Istanbul. Modern archaeological work began in 1948 when Kültepe was excavated by a team from the Turkish Historical Society and the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums. The team was led by Tahsin Özgüç until his death in 2005.Level IV-III. Little excavation has been done for these levels, which represent the kârum’s first habitation (Mellaart 1957). No writing is attested, and archaeologists assume that both levels’ inhabitants were illiterate. Level II, 1974 BC – 1836 BC (Mesopotamian Middle Chronology according to Veenhof). Craftsmen of this time and place specialized in earthen drinking vessels, in the shapes of animals, that were often used for religious rituals. During this period, Assyrian merchants established a merchant colony (kârum) attached to the city, which was called “Kaneš”. Bullae of Naram-Sin of Eshnunna have been found toward the end of this level (Ozkan 1993), which was burned to the ground. Level Ib, 1798 BC – 1740 BC. After an interval of abandonment, the city was rebuilt over the ruins of the old and again became a prosperous trade center. This trade was under the control of Ishme-Dagan, who was put in control of Assur when his father, Shamshi-Adad I, conquered Ekallatum and Assur. However, the colony was again destroyed by fire. Level Ia. The city was reinhabited, but the Assyrian colony was no longer inhabited. The culture was early Hittite. Its name in Hittite became “Kaneša”, but was more commonly contracted to “Neša”. Some attribute Level II’s burning to the conquest of the city of Assur by the kings of Eshnunna; but Bryce blames it on the raid of Uhna. Some attribute Level Ib’s burning to the fall of Assur, to other nearby kings, and, eventually, to Hammurabi of Babylon. To date, over 20,000 cuneiform tablets have been recovered from the site.Kârum KanešThe quarter of the city that most interests historians is the Kârum Kaneš, “merchant-colony city of Kaneš” in Assyrian. During the Bronze Age in this region, the Kârum was 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 kârum. The term kârum means “port” in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the time, although it was extended to refer to any trading colony whether or not it bordered water .Several other cities in Anatolia also had kârum, but the largest was Kaneš. This important kârum was inhabited by soldiers and merchants from Assyria for hundreds of years, who traded local tin and wool for luxury items, foodstuffs and spices, and, woven fabrics from the Assyrian homeland and from Elam.The remains of the kârum form a large circular mound 500m in diameter and about 20m above the plain (a Tell). The kârum settlement is the result of several superimposed stratigraphic periods. New buildings were constructed on top of the remains of the earlier periods; thus, there is a deep stratigraphy from prehistoric times to the early Hittite period.The kârum was destroyed by fire at the end of both levels II and Ib. The inhabitants left most of their possessions behind to be 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 by the state. These Kültepe texts are the oldest documents from Anatolia. Although they are written in Old Assyrian, the Hittite loanwords and names in these texts constitute the oldest record of any Indo-European language (see also Ishara). 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 the Waršama SarayiAt 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 (which was 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.
Kültepe is one of the most important ancient settlements of Anatolia with a history dating back to 2000 BC. The site is about 500 meters in diameter and about 2 meters high.The site is significant for being the first city founded by the Hittites in Anatolia and is one of the world’s most famous open-air museums.The ancient site of Kültepe remained undiscovered until 1881. From that time on important artifacts were unearthed that made important contributions to ancient history. Consequently, the excavations conducted on site continued for many years.The findings that have been excavated at the archaeological site of Kültepe belong to the Assyrian, early Hittite, Roman – Persian and Tabalian periods. More importantly, Kültepe harbors one of the oldest written documents of Anatolia, the Assyrian tablets bearing cuneiform inscriptions.Comprised of letters, seals, securities and agreements, the tablets reveal information pertaining to the political and legal relations between the administrators, traders and public of the time.Referred to as the “Kültepe tablets,” this historical evidence sheds light on the ancient period. The area is also considered an open air museum and encompasses a variety of public and religious structures, houses and workshops.Having rested under clear blue skies for thousands of years and nestled in the heart of nature, Kültepe is now the new mecca of history enthusiasts. The portable artifacts uncovered in the region are displayed at the Archaeological Museum in Kayseri.Wouldn’t you like to give a break and take a journey into the heart of nature to embark on an enjoyable discovery tour?
Located in Kayseri, one of the most advanced cities of Turkey and Central Anatolia, Kültepe is an inviting holiday destination with convenient transportation means.Kayseri is accessible via airway and highway from all major cities in Turkey. The ancient city of Kültepe is in close vicinity to the city center of Kayseri.The minibuses and public buses leaving from the central bus station in the city center of Kayseri will take you to Kültepe in a short time. Once you have arrived in Kültepe be ready to embark on an exciting exploration tour amidst nature and history.