Hittite palace at Kültepe
|Location||Kayseri Province, Turkey|
Kültepe (Turkish: "Ash Hill" and Persian: koltape), 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 Kane? (Kanesh); in later Hittite inscriptions, the city was mentioned as Ne?a (Nesha, Nessa, Nesa), or occasionally as Ani?a (Anisha). In 2014, the archaeological site was inscribed in the Tentative list of World Heritage Sites in Turkey. It is also the site of discovery of the earliest traces of the Hittite language, the earliest attestation of any Indo-European language, dated to the 20th century BCE.
Kane? or Ne?a, inhabited continuously from the Chalcolithic to Roman times, flourished as an important Hattian, Hittite and Hurrian city, containing a large k?rum (merchant colony) of the Old Assyrian Empire from c. the 21st to 18th centuries BC. This k?rum appears to have served as "the administrative and distribution centre of the entire Assyrian colony network in Anatolia". A late (c. 1400 BCE) witness to an old tradition includes a king of Kane? called Zipani among seventeen local city-kings who rose up against Naram-Sin of Akkad (ruled c. 2254-2218 BC).
The king of Zalpuwa, Uhna, raided Kanes, after which the Zalpuwans carried off the city's ?iu? idol. Pithana, the king of Kussara, conquered Ne?a "in the night, by force", but "did not do evil to anyone in it." Ne?a revolted against the rule of Pithana's son, Anitta, but Anitta quashed the revolt and made Ne?a his capital. Anitta further invaded Zalpuwa, captured its king Huzziya, and recovered the ?iu? idol for Ne?a.
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 Ne?ili, "the language of Ne?a".
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.
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, other nearby kings and eventually to Hammurabi of Babylon.
The quarter of the city that most interests historians is the k?rum, a portion of the city that was, during the Chalcolithic, set aside by local officials for the early Assyrian merchants to use without paying taxes as long as the goods remained inside the k?rum. The term k?rum 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 k?rum, but the largest was Kane?, whose important k?rum 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 k?rum form a large circular mound 500 m in diameter and about 20 m above the plain (a tell). The k?rum 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 k?rum 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 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 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.
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 War?ama 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 (68.2% hpd; the 95.4% hpd is 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.