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Kültepe is the modern Turkish name for an ancient city in central eastern Anatolia, also called Kârum Kanesh "merchant-colony city of Kanes" in Assyrian (rendered Karum Kaniş in Turkish). The nearest modern city is Kayseri, about 20km southwest. The city's name is often transliterated as "Kanesh" because of the way Hittite was recorded in cuneiform, but Kanes is more accurate. The name Kârum Kanesh refers to a portion of the city set aside by local officials for the early Assyrian merchants to use without paying taxes, as long as the goods remained inside the kârum. A similar arrangement today might be called an industrial park. The term kârum means "port" in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the time. The city to which the kârum was attached was the first capital of the later Hittite Empire, called Nesa.

Several other cities in Anatolia also had kârum, but the largest was Kanes. This important kârum was inhabited by merchants from Assyria for hundreds of years, who traded local tin and wool for luxury items, foodstuffs and spices, and woven fabrics from the Assrian homeland and [[[Elam]]].

The remains of the kârum form a large circular mound 500m in diameter and about 20m above the plain. The kârum settlement site is the result of several superposed 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.

  • Level IV. The first habitation. Writing was not used at this time in this region.
  • Level III. Another illiterate period of occupation.
  • Level II, 1920 BCE-1840 BCE (middle chronology). During this period, Assyrian merchants established themselves in a settlement attached to the city. The kârum was destroyed by fire at the end of level II, with the inhabitants leaving most of their possessions behind to be found by modern archaeologists. The findings have included enormous numbers of baked clay tablets, some that were enclosed in clay envelopes stamped using cylinder seals. The documents record common activities such as trade and legal arrangements. They record trade between the Assyrian colony and the city-state of Assur, as well as trade between Assyrian merchants and local people. The trade was run by families, not by the state of Assyria. They are the oldest written documents from Anatolia. This level was burned to the ground in antiquity, perhaps reflecting the conquest of the city of Assur by the kings of Eshnunna.
  • Level Ib, 1798 BCE - 1740 BCE. 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 conquered Ekallatum and Assur. However, the colony was again destroyed by fire; the cause may possibly be found in the fall of Assur to other nearby kings and eventually to Hammurabi of Babylon.
  • Level Ia. The city was reinhabited, but the Assyrian colony was no longer inhabited. The culture was early Hittite.

The Hittite kings resided in Nesa before they moved their capital to Hattusa. The native term for the Hittite language is Nesili, i.e. "the language of Nesa".

External links

  1. KÜLTEPE (KANESH) -- http://www.atamanhotel.com/cappkultepe.html
  2. Kayseri - Historical Ruins -- http://www.kultur.gov.tr/portal/arkeoloji_en.asp?belgeno=703
  3. Cappadocia -- http://www.ottomanhouse.com.tr/cappadocia.html

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