New Term Excavations at Kültepe

The First International Trade Center in Anatolia

Fikri Kulakoglu

Ankara University

Fikri Kulakoğlu received his B.A. degree in the Near Eastern Archaeology Department at Ankara University in 1982, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in the same department in 1985 and 1997, respectively. His academic career started in 1994 when he joined the Near Eastern Archaeology Department as a Research Assistant, and he is presently teaching there as a Professor in the same department. His current research interests include mainly "Early Bronze Age" and "Assyrian Trade Colony Period in Anatolia", the "Birth and the Development of Urbanisation in Anatolia", "the Origin of Hittite Culture" and "Hittite Art and Sculpture". He took part in several excavations in Anatolia, among them are Samsat, Acemhöyük, Kaman-Kalehöyük and Kültepe-Kanesh. After Tahsin Özgüç, in 2016 he was appointed as the director of the  Kültepe excavations. He is the author of several articles about the Bronze Age, and mainly the Assyrian Trade Colony Period and Hittites. He is also the co-editor of 3 volumes; Anatolias Prologue: Kültepe Kanesh Karum, printed in 2010; Current Research at Kültepe-Kanesh. An Interdisciplinary and Integrative Approach to Trade Networks, Internationalism, and Identity, printed in 2014; and KIM 1. Proceedings of the 1st Kültepe International Meeting. Kültepe 19-23 September 2013, Subartu XXXV, printed in 2015.

The recent findings and the information from Kültepe over the last decade will be presented in this talk. Kültepe or the capital city of the ancient Kanesh Kingdom consists of a 21-meter high mound, mostly occupied by official and religious monumental buildings including palaces and temples, and a lower town settlement known as the “karum of Kaneš”. The mound exhibits a long cultural sequence of 18 building levels from the Early Bronze Age until the late Roman period, whereas the lower town contains four well-defined levels. Excavations at Kültepe directed for more than half a century by T. Özgüç and K. Emre have provided great contributions not only to the history of Anatolia but also to the ancient Near East. More than 22,000 cuneiform tablets unearthed in the merchants’ houses located in the lower city (karum) and in the mound revealed the social, political and economic life of the 19th and 18th centuries BC in central Anatolia and Upper Mesopotamia. These tablets, found in private archives, written in an Old Assyrian dialect, give an exceptional insight into a sophisticated market economy, representing one of the best-documented historical cases of ancient far distance trade in the world. As a result of this trade, the people of Kültepe have produced high-quality objects of art made of metal, clay, ivory, bone, faience and semi-precious stones.

First term excavations have also provided important information about the development of the Early Bronze Age cultures that prepared this period and valuable clues about the relations between Kültepe and Anatolia with its neighbors. The new term multi-disciplinary excavations at Kültepe, which started in 2006, have also continued to provide important data that shed light not only on the archaeology, history and social developments in central Anatolia but also the earlier relations with Mesopotamia and Syria. Moreover, recent studies also provide information on why and how Kültepe was abandoned at the end of the Colonial Age and why Hittite culture, rooted in Kültepe, developed in Boğazköy instead of Kültepe.

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