The tablets uncovered at Kültepe describe the presence of an Old Assyrian trade colony known as Karum Kanesh adjacent to the site. In the 20th and 19th centuries B.C.E. Assur, the capital of the Old Assyrian Kingdom, established the largest trade network the world had ever seen. Donkeys transported tin from Iran, textiles from Babylonia and silver and gold from Karum Kanesh in Anatolia, which was located some 600 miles from Assur. Independent Assyrian merchant families would travel to Kültepe, where the Assyrian population at Karum Kanesh would collect goods to be distributed within Anatolia. Because the voyage was so long and the connections between Assur and Karum Kanesh were so strong, the trade network is remarkably well documented in highly personal letters describing the quality of trade goods, family relations, prices, foodstuffs, marriage proposals and other daily affairs.
The recent excavations have uncovered material remains from the tell that predate the Assyrian trade colony at Karum Kanesh. While the exact nature of the structure is unclear, Kulakoğlu suggested that this is an administrative or palatial structure from which the site could be governed. Kültepe is best known for hosting the adjacent colony at Karum Kanesh, but the tell was occupied long before and after the Assyrian trade colony; even during the time when the colony was operational, the city on the tell exhibited predominantly Anatolian characteristics. After the Assyrian occupation, Hittites controlled Kültepe. However, the early history of the site is not well established; the newly uncovered building complex is sure to shed light on the early history of Kültepe.
Bleibtreu, Erika. “Grisly Assyrian Record of Torture and Death.” Biblical Archaeology Review, Jan/Feb 1991.
Larsen, Mogens Trolle. “Europe Confronts Assyrian Art.” Archaeology Odyssey, Jan/Feb 2001.
Shanks, Hershel. “Destruction of Judean Fortress Portrayed in Dramatic Eighth-Century B.C. Pictures.” Biblical Archaeology Review, Mar/Apr 1984.
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