Kültepe, ancient Kanesh/Nesha

The site of Kültepe, situated in Cappadocia, in the province of Kayseri, has been identified as the ancient city of Kanesh/Nesha, the Middle Bronze Age capital (first half of the 2nd millennium BC) of an Anatolian principality.

The town was home to a Mesopotamian colony or commercial district (kārum), inhabited by families of merchants from Assur, the Assyrian capital on the Tigris, in what is now northern Iraq. The site is important in particular due to the discovery there of tens of thousands of  cuneiform tablets (c. 23,000 inventory numbers) that bear witness to the flourishing trade between northern Mesopotamia and Anatolia, consisting largely of the circulation of precious metals (gold and silver from Anatolia towards Assyria) and textiles and tin (from Assyria towards Anatolia). In recent years, Turkish excavations have also identified a phase that preceded the Assyrian trading colony, with public buildings that demonstrate that the region was already urbanized in the 3rd millennium BC.

Aerial view of the site of Kültepe. ©Kültepe Excavations Archive

View of the kārum of the Assyrian merchants in the Lower Town of Kültepe. ©Kültepe Excavations Archive