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Central Anatolia during the kārum period

Coordinates: 38 ° 51 ′ 0 ″  N , 35 ° 38 ′ 0 ″  E

Relief Map: Turkey

Kültepe ( Turkish "ash hill"), also known under the name Kaniš , is an important archaeological site in Turkey . It lies in the Kayseri plain, which is dominated by the Erciyes Dağı volcanic massif in the south . The excavations are located 20 km northeast of the city of Kayseri near the hamlet of Karahöyük and around 20 km south of the Kızılırmak river .

The excavations extend over two areas, the upper and the lower town. The remains of the upper town with the citadel lie on a 20-meter-high, almost circular hill with a diameter of around 520 meters, the lower town is on the plain. Settlement from the Early Bronze Age to the Roman Imperial Age can be archaeologically proven for the Upper Town , but with longer settlement interruptions. The lower town was built on during the Middle Bronze Age , and graves were laid there in antiquity.


Kültepe is one of the few archaeological sites in Anatolia whose Bronze Age name is known for sure. Based on the cuneiform texts found at the place , the place was called Kaniš ( Kaneš ; kà-ni-iš KI ) and in Hittite Nēša ( URU Ne-e-ša) during the Middle Bronze Age ; both names were used synonymously by the Hittites; the assumption that Nēša referred to the upper town, while Kaniš referred to the kārum , part of the lower town, is unlikely ( kārum is the general term for 'market, trading place, settlement of merchants' in the ancient Assyrian trade network in Anatolia). The name of the ancient settlement was Anisa (ΑΝΙΣΑ), as can be seen from an inscription from Kültepe. The name appears again in an Ottoman legal document from the 17th century, which names the village kariye i-Kıŋıš . The etymology of the place name is unknown.

The Hittites named their language after this city našili , nešili or nešumnili , which is an indication that the area around the city belonged to the Hittite ancestral lands. The city name is also contained in the Neo-Assyrian word allānkaniš , allākkaniš (Kaniš acorn), which is believed to refer to the hazelnut, which came as a delicacy from the Black Sea coast via Kaniš to Mesopotamia as early as the Bronze Age , where the hazel does not thrive.


Since 1880 cuneiform tablets appeared on the market, which were called Cappadocian tablets according to their origin . There are over 3000 texts, most of which have now been published. In 1925 Kültepe was identified as their place of origin.

Ernest Chantre carried out the first excavations in 1893 and 1894. In search of the Hittite capital Ḫattuša , Hugo Winckler undertook test excavations in Kültepe in 1906. The lower town was only discovered by Bedřich Hrozný in 1925 . Since 1948 the site has been systematically explored by the Türk Tarih Kurumu , the Turkish Historical Society headed by Tahsin Özgüç . Fikri Kulakoğlu has been leading the excavations since 2006.

Written certificates

During the excavations, clay tablets with ancient Assyrian cuneiform script were found, the so-called Cappadocian tablets, all of which were written in the ancient Assyrian language . Since the resumption of excavations in 1948, Turkish archaeologists have found thousands more ancient Assyrian clay tablets. In the meantime, more than 23,000 tablets (2011) have been excavated from at least 70 archives. Most come from kārum II, a good 500 from kārum Ib, about 50 from the upper town. Other ancient Assyrian tablets were also found in Boğazkale (Altassyr. Ḫattuš), Alışar Höyük (Altassyr. Amkuwa) and Acemhöyük . The boards are mostly business documents such as contracts, mortgage notes, inventory lists, travel expenses, legal documents or letters. In addition, there are also marriage and inheritance contracts, divorces, spells and stories, current political events are mentioned less often. This means that the name of the house owner and his family is partly known. The clay tablets cover a period of around 250 years. The cuneiform tablets found in Kültepe since 1948 are denoted by the abbreviation 'kt' or 'k' (for kārum ). The finds from the years 1948 to 1972 are denoted by the letters a – z, after which the last two digits of the year are used.

The immense amount of over 23,000 tables is currently (2013) being processed by several scientists, but the majority of the texts are still unpublished and therefore only accessible to a few researchers. With the new texts, new findings are constantly becoming known, which means that research results sometimes have to be revised relatively quickly. Until recently, Ḫurmeli and Ḫarpatiwa were considered kings of Kaniš; Today the opinion is expressed that Ḫarpatiwa was only rabi simmiltim ("head of the stairs") in Kaniš, and thus held the most powerful position after the king. For a short time, Ḫurmeli was discussed by researchers as king of Mama, then by Ḫarsamna and finally again at least King of Kaniš.

The archives of the ancient Assyrian traders in Kültepe have been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2015 .


Archaeologically, the finds on the hill can be divided into 18 find layers, which are numbered from 1 to 18, with 1 denoting the top and thus youngest find layer. The buildings in the lower town can be divided into five find layers, which are designated with Roman numerals, where find layer Ia is at the same time as find layer 6 of the upper town.

The layers of the Middle Bronze Age can be determined more precisely by means of Assyrian annual ponyms and follow the Middle Chronology , which shows the conquest of Babylon by the Hittite great king Muršili I in 1595 BC. Chr. Sets. Although the absolute chronology remains controversial, there is a consensus in ancient Assyrian research that all dates should be given in the middle chronology. In the case of the data specified for the year, it should be noted that these results with regard to Kültepe can change at any time due to new discoveries or new research results. Important key data could also be determined by means of dendrochronology , the data of which, however, are also subject to a certain uncertainty.

Stratigraphy by Kültepe
hill level epoch Name, meaning
18th - Early Bronze Age I.  
17-14 - Early Bronze Age II  
13-11 - Early Bronze Age III  
10 IV Middle Bronze Age Beginning of urban development
9 III Middle Bronze Age  
8th II Karum -time
1974 / 1927-1836 v. Chr.
Kaniš ; Anatolian center of Assyrian trade
7th Ib Karum -time
1832 / 1800-1719 v. Chr.
Kaniš ; Assyrian trading center
6th Yes Old Ethite time Neša ; the place no longer has a central function
Settlement gap
5-4 - Iron Age
9./8. Century BC Chr.
important central place in the late Luwian country Tabal
Settlement gap
3 Graves Hellenistic period Anisa ; Polis ; Coin finds from 323 BC Chr.
2–1 Graves Roman times insignificant settlement; Coin finds up to 180 AD

In addition, some early medieval graves were found in the area of ​​the lower town. Settlement structures from this era are still missing.


Dendrochronological examinations from the palace of layer 8 showed that after 2024 B.C. Must have been built using wood that was several hundred years old. This old palace ( Turkish Eski Saray) was destroyed by fire. The wood for the new palace (layer 7) was felled in 1833. Since a letter addressed to King Waršama von Kaniš was found in it, it is called the Waršama Palace (Turkish: Warşama Saray).

Annual eponyms

From kārum II come several lists with annual ponyms ( līmum ), which usually begin with the year 1 of the Assyrian king Erišum I (= 1974 BC) and name a total of 129 annual ponyms. There is also a list from kārum Ib, which begins in the eighth year of Naram-Sîn (= 1864 BC) and contains 142 annual eponyms.

Two time models are currently believed to be likely. The first has kārum II begin with the first year of Erišum I. After the destruction of the settlement and palace around 1835, the palace was rebuilt immediately, but kārum Ib took about 30 years. The somewhat more recent interpretation means that kārum II does not begin until the seventh year of Ikūnum (= 1927 BC) and the gap between kārum II and Ib is estimated to be 2 to 3 years. Based on the list found in kārum Ib, which is incomplete and contains minor errors, the end of kārum Ib can be dated after 1720.


In the graves of the Hellenistic and Roman times, coins were found that date back to 323 BC. And end in 180 AD. This can also be used to determine the minimum duration of the ancient settlement.


Figurine of a double-headed deity from the Early Bronze Age


Two legends are connected with Kaniš / Neša, from which no historical conclusions can be drawn.

In a text about early Hittite history, the so-called Zalpa text ( CTH 3), a legend is told in the preface according to which the Queen of Kaniš gave birth to thirty sons at the same time, whom she - because this seemed monstrous to her - on the river Maraššanta ( Kızılırmak ) suspended. The boys were washed up to the sea and raised in Zalpa . The same queen later gave birth to thirty daughters at the same time, whom she raised herself. The adult sons came to Kaniš in search of their mother and married their thirty sisters without being recognized, despite warnings from the youngest sister. The rest of the legend is lost.

The Hittite Narām-Sîn legend, which has only survived in fragments, names King Zipani of Kaniš among the fabulous 17 enemies of the Akkadian king Narām-Sîn (2273–2219 BC).

Early bronze age

The oldest buildings date from the Early Bronze Age I. The multi-room houses were built from adobe bricks on a stone foundation. The graves were created inside the settlement, including typical round graves, which usually have two chambers.

The oldest large building discovered, a megaron , possibly a palace or temple, dates from the Early Bronze Age III (layer 12) . In the central hall there was a round hearth with four columns. Alabaster idols were found on the floor , which have a disk-shaped body decorated with geometric patterns. The idols have one, two or even three long-necked heads. In some of them, another idol is indicated on the body, which can also be multi-headed.

Other idols from the Early Bronze Age show an enthroned goddess who holds her bare breasts with her hands. The painted ceramics were handmade and typical of the whole Kayseri plain, which is similar to the ceramics from Alışar Höyük in the north . Both ceramics and idols and other artifacts, on the other hand, differ significantly from the northern culture at the middle Kızılırmak, which is ascribed to the Hatti people . Pottery imported from Syria was also found in the oldest layer.

Middle Bronze Age

Anitta bronze dagger found in the upper town of Kültepe with an enlarged cuneiform script, Museum of Anatolian Civilizations , Ankara

In the Middle Bronze Age, Kültepe developed into the most important central place in the upper Kızılırmak and the most important trading place in Anatolia. With the establishment of an Assyrian trading post ( kārum ) after 2000 BC The historical age begins. The more than 23,000 tablets from kārum II bear witness to the business life of the time, but also to the politics, religion and private life of the Assyrian traders and, in some cases, the local population. The finds from this period are useful for research into Anatolian and Assyrian history between 2000 and 1700 BC. Of enormous importance. This section aims only to summarize the political history, while the other aspects are discussed in more detail below.

The only known king of Kaniš, who belongs to the time of kārum II, was Labarša. Other people who might be considered kings of Kaniš during the kārum II period are Papala and Kuku. Around the year 1835 BC Chr. Were Karum and upper town destroyed by fire.

The following picture emerges from the sources of the history of the kārum Ib layer , although there are still great uncertainties:

Kaniš was destroyed around 1835, possibly by King Uḫna of Zalpa , who dragged the city's idol to Zalpa. King Ḫurmeli of Ḫarsamna drove out the conquerors and set his rabi simmiltim Ḫarpatiwa in Kaniš. Inar seized the rule and besieged the city of Ḫarsamna for nine years, which was then only an insignificant settlement. Waršama, son of Inar, inherited the rule over Kaniš, but was subjugated by Pitḫana of Kuššara . Anitta , son of Pitḫana, fortified and expanded the city. His autobiographical report, the so-called Anitta text (CTH 1), which was found in an Old Ethite copy from the 16th century BC found in Ḫattuša. Chr. Is considered the oldest Hittite language testimony. After successful campaigns and the destruction of Ḫattuša he called himself great king, a title that until then only the king of Purušḫanda had in Anatolia . The breaking off of the texts in the kārum Ḫattuš around 1728 BC BC, can be traced back to Anitta. Zuzu followed Anitta as the Great King of Kaniš, evidently bypassing the Crown Prince Peruwa. Since he is also called King of Alaḫzina, it is possible that he conquered Kaniš and defeated Anitta or his son.

Hittite period

After the destruction of the Assyrian trading posts, Kaniš / Neša was incorporated into the Hittite Empire, but was a place of little or no political or economic importance. The cult texts of the "Singer from Kaniš" have a certain importance. Under Great King Muwatalli II , the Kaškäer crossed the Maraššanta (Kızılırmak) river and sacked the region, including Kaniš. The later great king, then commander of the Hittite army camp, Ḫattušili III. managed to defeat the Kaškäer. However, no remains from the Hittite empire have been found in Kültepe and there is a gap of several centuries in the archaeological finds.

Iron age

During the Iron Age , Kültepe was an important place in Tabal . The city on the hill was walled. Phrygian influence can be seen in painted ceramics and bronze brooches . Since no late Luwian inscriptions were found in Kültepe, it cannot be said which of the well-known kings of Tabal can be associated with Kültepe. The end of the settlement is not clear either, it seems that the place was destroyed by the incursions of the Cimmerians in Anatolia.


During the Hellenistic period , Anisa was a flourishing city ( polis ) with its own council ( boulē ). An inscription from Kültepe (approx. 150 BC) mentions festivals for Zeus Soter and Herakles and a temple of Astarte , an indication of a strong Syrian influence. In the transition to Roman times, the place lost its importance possibly as a result of the Mithridatic Wars .

The ancient city was densely built up and fortified with a city wall, whereby the Iron Age fortifications were partly used.

kārum time

Map of the excavations
Cobbled street in the lower town
Lower town
A grave set under the floor

Construction of the settlement

The kārum- period settlement consisted of the upper town on the hill and the lower town on the plain. The royal palace and several temples stood in the upper town. The Assyrian kārum house ( bīt kārim ) with the Assyrian administration was probably also located in the upper town. The lower town extended east and west of the hill for a length of about two kilometers. The kārum , where the Assyrian traders lived, was located in the northeast on an area of ​​about 250 × 300 meters. There was no cemetery because the dead were buried under the floor inside the houses.

The city hill was fortified with a wall that enclosed the upper city. About in the middle on the hill was the citadel with the royal palace. Palace 8, which coincides with kārum II, is called the Old Palace (Turkish Eski Saray). It was built after 2024 and fell around 1835 BC. Victim to a fire. The around 1833 BC Palace 7, built at the same time as kārum Ib, measured 120 × 110 meters and encompassed the citadel. It consisted of a large courtyard in the southern part and a complex of buildings in the northern part. This was at least partially two-story, but only the remains of the ground floor have been preserved. This had 42 rooms, including storage rooms, administrative offices and accommodation. The royal living quarters are likely to have been upstairs. Since a letter from King Anumḫirbe to King Waršama was found in this palace from Mama, this palace is also called Waršama Palace (Turkish: Warşama Sarayı).

To the southwest of the citadel was a temple district with four sanctuaries, which belong to layer 7 and have the same floor plan. Since these are at the same time as the nearby building in which the Anitta dagger was found, it can be assumed that these are the temples mentioned in the Anitta text. Private houses were excavated south of the temple precinct and east of the citadel.

The lower town, which was only partially examined, was also walled. The kārum formed only part of the city, the layout of which was carried out according to the same pattern as in other simultaneous Anatolian cities. The streets were laid out more or less at right angles. They could expand into squares, with the streets running in an east-west direction towards the city hill. They were partly paved or even just made of tamped earth. The sewage system ran under the pavement. The streets were wide enough for car traffic.

The construction method was tight and a building complex consisted of four to eight, mostly two-story rectangular houses of 40 to 200 m 2 . During construction, two rooms were created on the ground floor. If necessary and with increasing assets, a house could be expanded if the space allowed it. A lot of wood was used in the construction.


The ethnic composition of the population can be inferred from the personal names mentioned in the cool texts. Most of the names are of Semitic origin and refer to the ancient Assyrian traders who settled in Anatolia, such as B. Iddin-Sîn and his family. The Anatolian names can be assigned to different languages, the greater part is clearly Hittite (e.g. Ḫalkiaššu, Ilališkan, Išputaḫšu), a significantly smaller part Luwian (e.g. Tiwatia, Ruwatia, Wašunani). These Hittite and Luwian names are the oldest Indo-European language certificates (for etymologizations see the article Indo- European Original Language ).

Many names can be assigned to any particular language, they like the Hatti or an unknown language belong (eg. As Pikašnurikizi, Atamakuni, Taripiazi). Hurrian names (e.g. Ḫarpatiwa, Imrimuša) appear relatively late; they are very rare and their carriers belong to the upper class.

Even if the name itself does not say anything about the ethnic affiliation of the individual bearer, it can be concluded for statistical reasons that the native population of Kaniš and its surroundings consisted mainly of Hittites . Luwians, on the other hand, are more likely to have settled south or west of it, and the kingdom of Purušḫanda can probably be regarded as Luwian. Hattier lived further north, one of their political and economic centers was Ḫattuš . It should be noted that at that time in Central Anatolia a mixed population is generally to be expected.

The Assyrian traders called the local Anatolian population nuwaʿum , which can be traced back to the Luwian name, with the initial change of l / n being due to Hurrian mediation. This is explained by the fact that the Hurrites first came into contact with Luwians, whereupon the name was transferred to all Anatolians, regardless of ethnicity. The Assyrian traders then took over the language from the Hurrites who lived in northern Syria.


The local population mainly engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry. The agricultural year began with plowing ( erāšum ) and sowing of grain, mainly barley, from October. Then the olive harvest ( serdum ) followed from November to December. The grain maturity ( kubur uṭṭitim ) was in the summer ( harpū ) after the summer solstice. At the end of July, the harvest ( ebūrum ) began with sickle gripping ( ṣibit niggallim ) and ended in August with the “threshing floor” ( adrum ). The grape harvest ( qitip kerānim ) finally took place in September . In spring ( dašʾū) there was also sheep shearing ( buqūnum ).

Old Assyrian trading colony

The kārum in the lower city was the center of ancient Assyrian trade in Anatolia. An estimated 500 to 700 people lived there, mostly Assyrian traders with their families, but also merchants from Syria and Anatolia. Architecturally, the settlement hardly differs from other Anatolian cities. Numerous marriages between Assyrians and locals are evidenced by marriage contracts.

Women and family

The ancient Assyrian women played an important role and were regarded as equal contractual partners. They represented their husbands, who were often long absent, in business matters and administered the house. They could have possessions of their own, through inheritance, or for self-acquisition by making and selling textiles. However, they could be prosecuted for the man's debts if the man became insolvent. Women could appear as writers of letters and as witnesses, less often they had their own seal.

In many prenuptial agreements, the husband took the right to take a second wife or slave if the marriage remained childless after two or three years. The traders living in Anatolia often had two wives anyway, one in Aššur and one in Anatolia. When they returned to Aššur at an advanced age, they divorced the Anatolian woman, which is probably one of the reasons why so many certificates of divorce from Kaniš are known. These set the divorce allowance, but also to whom which children are entitled. It was common for widows and divorced people to remarry. The Assyrian woman Ištar-lamassī married an Anatolian after the death of her Assyrian husband.

Children were important in running the business and providing for their parents in old age. After their death, they performed the necessary death rituals. Some contracts stipulated that in the event of insolvency, children of the debtor would be left as labor for the believer until the debt was paid off. Sometimes their own children were also sold as slaves.


Gold objects from the kārum

Above all, Assyrian and Babylonian ( ṣubātū ša A-kà-dí-e ) textiles and metals were traded. The ancient Assyrian trade was based on a strong textile industry; Non-Assyrian textiles were subject to high tariffs or could only be traded to a limited extent. Larsen estimates that around 100,000 pieces of wool were brought to Kaniš from Assyria during the kārum II period. Lapis lazuli ( husārum ) was subject to the monopoly of the town hall in Aššur and the kārum Kaniš imposed a levy on it, which was sent directly there. The price of lapis lazuli in Aššur was about half the price of silver, in Kaniš it was traded at three times the price of silver. Like the tin ( annukum ) imported into Anatolia, this valuable stone probably came from Afghanistan. Iron ( amūtum; ašium ) was a sought-after import good in Anatolia and was more than six times the price of silver. Silver and gold were also traded.

The Assyrians also dominated the intra-Anatolian trade in copper (found in the Black Sea region and Ergani - maggots ), antimony ( lulāʿum ), grain and wool. The great demand for tin and copper in Anatolia suggests a significant domestic bronze industry.

The paths of the donkey caravans were lined with smaller road stations ( wabaratum ) and larger trading posts ( kārum ), the latter mostly located in the capitals of the Anatolian city-states. Bridges or ferries passed over the Kızılırmak, and a fee had to be paid for using them. In winter the passes to Mesopotamia were closed and the other trade routes and river crossings were partially impassable due to the damp weather, especially for heavily loaded animals and wagons.


In order to avoid customs duties and taxes, smuggling was widespread and the traders sent each other letters to tell their colleagues which routes were safe or if danger was lurking. The so-called ḫarrān sūqinnim , the “road of danger” , was mentioned several times . Among other things, it led to Durḫumid in the north. Lewy equates the “Road of Danger” with the trade route that led from Akçadağ via Darende , Gürün and Pınar Başı to Kızılırmak and to Alışar Höyük (Amkuwa) and Bogazköy (Ḫattuš), Gojko Barjamovic starts it further east. The northern Syrian city of Timelkia was at that time a smuggling center, from which goods were smuggled into Duritumit, located on the lower Kızılırmak, bypassing the city of Ḫurama, which lived mainly on customs duties and taxes. These smuggler routes were not subject to intellectual property rights; the goods of captured smugglers were drawn in by the local rulers. This caused damage to the kārum , which is why the Assyrian administration also punished the smuggling.


Prices of various goods can be deduced from the texts; A hundred loaves of bread cost ⅓ shekels of silver, for 2 shekels of silver you could buy a sheep or a kilogram of copper, the same amount of tin cost 28, a donkey or a slave 20 and a raqqutum textile 30 shekels of silver. A trader paid 2½ mines of copper for the bridge toll at the town of Šalatuwar, while he had to pay 3 shekels of silver for the night there and one mine of copper to feed his donkeys.

Politics & Administration

At that time Anatolia was divided into over a dozen small city-states, which fought against each other, so that the political situation could quickly change, which often severely affected trade. The Assyrian inhabitants of the kārums lived according to Assyrian law and had their own administration with their own authorities, so they were extraterritorial.


The kārum Kaniš, which was directly subordinate to the city assembly of Aššur ( ālum ṣaher rabi ), was superior to the other kārums in Anatolia. It was able to give them orders and instructions and was the highest judicial authority of the Assyrian traders in Anatolia. He administered and controlled the Assyrian trade and administered taxes and duties. Diplomatic negotiations between the Anatolian rulers and the Assyrian settlements in their territories were not possible; all contracts with Anatolian kings were negotiated with the kārum Kaniš. The interests of the capital, Aššur, were taken care of by members of parliament ( šipirū ša alim ) who were staying in Kaniš . The smaller wabartums , which were administered by a local assembly ( ṣaher rabi ), were subordinate to the individual kārums .

The Anatolian rulers guaranteed the Assyrians the right of settlement and pledged to protect them. In the event of war, they had to allow them to leave the crisis area freely. The archaeological findings clearly indicate that kārum II was abandoned by Kaniš shortly before its destruction. Only a few valuables were found, unburied skeletons are completely missing and some of the archives have been properly stowed away. The rulers protected and controlled the trade routes and were allowed to charge tolls and taxes. If a caravan was ambushed, the ruler had to secure the looted property and otherwise replace it.

The Assyrian traders had to go to the palace upon reaching a city and declare their trade goods. The king was entitled to 5% of the textiles ( nisḫatum tax) and a certain part of the metals as tax, he also had the right of first refusal on iron and lapis lazuli and on 10% of the remaining textiles.


South-west corner of the palace on the citadel in the upper town

Like the other Anatolian city-states, Kaniš had a king and a queen, although the relationship between the two is not entirely clear. Both the king and the queen could issue orders alone or act as a couple. They were supported by a large retinue of officials. A total of over fifty titles in ancient Assyrian have come down to us from the Anatolian administrative hierarchy, with some titles speaking for themselves, but others being opaque. The most important person after the king was the rabi simmiltim "great man of the stairs". He was usually mentioned by name and often together with the king and was probably the hereditary prince. It should be noted, however, that Waršuma is attested as the son and successor of Inar, but that the latter was called rabi simmiltim Šamnuman.

Great of the stairs
rabi simmiltim
Ḫurmeli Ḫarpatiwa
Inar Samnuman
Waršuma Ḫalkiaššu
Pitḫana Anitta
Anitta Peruwa Kammaliya
Zuzu Ištar-ibra

The rabi sikkitim evidently had close ties to the palace and was extremely powerful, but its function is not known. The alaḫḫinnum is often mentioned. It seems that every city had its own alaḫḫinnum . He too had great power and often took advantage of it and was considered a defaulting payer. The Assyrians often had to buy his favor with gifts and invitations. In one case, the kārum Kaniš boycotted an alaḫḫinnum because the ala dieserinnum failed to pay its outstanding debts.

Other titles to choose from:

  • rabi adrim "Great of the threshing floor"
  • rabi bētim “great of the house”, majordomo
  • rabi ḫuršātim "great one of the storehouses"
  • rabi kalbātim " greater one of the bitches"
  • rabi kirānim "great of wine"
  • rabi maḫʾīrm "big man of the market", the market overseer
  • rabi paššurī "Great of the table", the chief steward
  • rabi perdim "big one of the mules"
  • rabi rēʾêm / rabi rēʾê "Great of Shepherds"
  • rabi ṣābim / rabi ṣābē "great worker"
  • rabi tergumannī "great translator"


Animal rhyton from Kültepe for libations from the kārum period

The religion in Kaniš was complex; on the one hand, the Assyrian traders living in kārum practiced their native religion , while the Anatolians had their own cults. On the basis of theophoric personal names, Hittite, Luwian and Hurrian god names can also be determined. Although a separation between the various religions can sometimes be seen, there were also overlaps and the adoption of foreign cults; so the Syrian goddess Kubabat was worshiped by the Assyrians and Anatolians.

Anatolian cults

The cuneiform texts make it clear that there was a change in the Anatolian religion between layers kārum II and Ib, although much remains unexplained. The texts of kārum II name three temples. Of these, the temples of Annā and Nipas were in Kaniš itself, while the temple of Bēl qablim (Assyr. "Lord of battle") was apparently in another place, perhaps in Ḫanaknak. Eight different local festivals are also mentioned as repayment dates for debts.

Annā was the main indigenous deity at the time of Layer II. It is generally assumed that this is a goddess whose name meant "mother" (Heth. Anna- , luw. Anna / i- "mother"); another interpretation could be luw. annā- “wisdom, experience”. An equation with the eponymous goddess of Emar , as Volkert Haas suspects, is possible but not mandatory. Annā is invoked in treaties between Assyrians and Anatolians together with the Assyrian main god Aššur as the oath deity. Their feast included the king entering their temple, which had a sword in it. In Layer Ib, Annā is mentioned only once.

Nipas was the second most important native deity. The name could mean "heaven" (Heth. Nepiš "heaven"), but this remains controversial. Nipas also had its own temple in Kaniš and its own festival at which the king entered his temple. Nipas is no longer mentioned in the texts from Layer Ib, but the weather god appears again . It is conceivable that the syllabic spelling Ni-pá-as - assuming the name means "heaven" - was replaced by the Sumerographic spelling d IM; Theophoric personal names make it probable that the weather god was called Tarḫunna .

The third most important deity in Layer II was Parka , with its own festival. In Hittite times, Parka was worshiped in Ḫattuša in the temple of the grain goddess Ḫalki. This could indicate the function as a fertility deity. Since Parka is also missing in the documents of layer Ib, but the grain goddess Nisaba is now called, the identity of the two deities becomes obvious; Here, too, theophoric personal names make it likely that Nisaba is the Hittite grain goddess alki . It is noticeable that the Assyrian goddess of grain Nisaba is always noted in Sumerograph as d NISABA, while the native goddess of grain always appears syllabically as Ni-sà-ba.

Other local festivals in kārum II were celebrated for Tuḫtuḫani, the god of war Bēl qablim, Ḫariḫari, Ilali and the sun deity ( d UTU). In addition, local priests are attested for Kubabat , Peruwa and Ḫigiša, the first two are well attested in the Hittite religion. Finally, Ḫumanu is called in Eiden.

The native pantheon in kārum Ib paints a completely different picture. The main deity is now the weather god ( d IM), next to it the weather god of the head ( d IM ša qaqqadim) is mentioned twice . Both are well attested in Hittite texts. Of the older main deities, Annā is mentioned only once. Aškašepa (Heth. "Tor- Genius ") and the river deity ( d ÍD) are new. It is noticeable that the older deities Annā, Nipas, Parka and Ḫigiša never appear in personal names. In contrast, names with Peruwa or Ilali are very common - Peruwa itself was one of the most popular local male names - although both deities are only mentioned once in the texts.

From the Anitta text it emerges that this temple was built for Tarḫunna, Ḫalmašuit and "our God" (Heth. Šiuš-šummiš), which may be identical to the temples of layer Ib excavated in the upper town. Which deity is meant by “our God” cannot be determined, the suggestions range from the sun god to Annā.

Using theophoric personal names from Kaniš, in addition to Peruwa and Ilali, the following Hittite deities can be identified: the weather god Tarḫunna, the patron god Inar , the grain goddess Ḫalki and the goddess of fate Gulša ; In addition, there are the following Luwian deities : the weather god Tarḫunz , the sun god Tiwaz , the patron god Runtiya , the god of war Šanta and the goddess of fate Gulza . Although these names say little about the local cult in Kaniš, they do show that the deities mentioned were already widespread at that time and are also the oldest evidence of Indo-European deities.

Assyrian cults

The Assyrians in Kaniš worshiped the same deities as in Aššur. The main god was the eponymous Aššur , who was usually invoked in oaths, sometimes together with the Anatolian Annā. While the men swore by the dagger ( patrum ) of the Aššur, the women swore by the tambourine ( huppum ) of the Ištar . The “Gate of God” ( bāb ilim ) is documented in writing for Kaniš , but so far no archaeological finds of Assyrian cult buildings or shrines have been found. Other Assyrian oath deities were Adad , Amurrum , Ilabrat and Nisaba . The ancestors could also be called on oaths. Priests are attested for Aššur, Ištar and Suen , as well as a temple for Išḫara . Most of the offerings show sums of money, less often animals, but also sun disks for Aššur and vulva ornaments ( habulaku ) for Ištar.

The ancient Assyrian texts from Kültepe also include magic songs against Lamaštum , a disease demon who threatens pregnant women and newborns. Another spell was used against the "black dog" who ambushed travelers who were leaving the caravan, and another was against the "evil eye" ( ēnum lamuttum ). These magic songs hardly differ from those in Mesopotamia, where they had a long tradition.

Material culture

Cylinder seal


Stamp seals were already used in Anatolia in the Neolithic . With the northern Syrian and Mesopotamian trade contacts came in the 19th century BC. Also cylinder seals to Anatolia, which were quickly adapted to the local style. The Anatolian cylinder seals consist of hematite and were apparently only used in Kültepe of Layer II. They show a linear style with different motifs, often people, animals, hybrid beings, stars or symbols, often combined into scenarios. These are depicted in a naturalistic and detailed manner. Eyes are shown remarkably large, nose, fingers or animal claws are clearly shown. The cylinder seals can show mythical and religious motifs, including hunting and war scenes, as well as landscapes or animal friezes. Some of the people and animals shown are on different levels and are not always the same size.

Processions of gods consist of several consecutive deities, mostly standing on an animal and approaching an enthroned deity. Different deities can be recognized from the animals. Weather gods stand on bulls and usually appear in pairs, protection or hunting gods stand on a stag, war gods on lions. In addition, there is a double-faced god on a pig. Goddesses are often portrayed naked. Some deities can be recognized as Mesopotamian based on the symbols, but most of them follow the old indigenous representations of gods, which have a long tradition in Anatolia and which later return in Hittite art; male gods wear pointed hats, usually with horns. Goddesses, on the other hand, wear a cap.

Adorants are depicted standing or kneeling in front of an enthroned deity, they carry a gazelle or a vessel with them and sometimes they libitate before the deity.

War scenes often show a war deity in the middle of the battlefield with battle scenes and depictions of fallen soldiers. The varied hunting scenes show people or lions hunting; deer, gazelles, bulls and birds are popular prey. Hybrid creatures are also a common motif in hunting scenes, with bull people predominating.

In layer Ib the use of cylinder seals declined in favor of stamp seals, in which an increased Mesopotamian influence is noticeable. They continue to show adorants, deities, hybrids and animals, new death ceremonies and coats of arms are added, including the double-headed eagle, which, notably, can have a bird and a lion head. In addition to bull and lion people and other hybrid creatures, griffins and sphinxes can also be depicted. The style is already very close to the old Ethite style.

Kaniš singer

During the Hittite period, the ritual texts often mention the "singer from Kaniš / Neša" who sang in the Hittite language , which means that the deities honored are of Hittite origin. In the old and middle Hittite times, the patron god Innara and the triad Aškašepa, "queen" ( d MUNUS.LUGAL, Heth. Ḫaššuššara) and Pirwa were invoked. In the Young Hittite period, a larger group of gods came to light, which research called the "Kanesian Circle", where in addition to the deities already mentioned, the Seven Deities ( d VII.VII.BI), the garden goddess Maliya and some less important deities such as " favorable Day ”, the court genius Ḫilašši or the divine blacksmith Ḫašammili join them. The goddess Kamrušepa is also counted as part of the Canese circle. Of these deities, Pirwa and Aškašepa are attested as deities for the kārum time, also in Theophora Inar, Maliya and Ḫašušara.


The ancient Ethite account of Puḫanu at the time of Ḫattušili I contains a little song that begins with the following verse:

" Nésas wáspes, Nésas wáspes // tiya-mmu tiya "

"Clothes from Neša, clothes from Neša, lie down for me, lie down!"

- KBo 3.40

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Tahsin Özgüç : Excavations in Kültepe 1948 ; TTKY 5/10.
  2. Thomas Sturm: allānū - hazelnuts as a delicacy in the kārum- era trade from Anatolia to northern Mesopotamia. In: Altorientalische Forschungen 35, 2008, pp. 296–311.
  3. Jan Gerrit Dercksen: The old Assyrian copper trade in Anatolia . Istanbul 1996, Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologische Instituut te Istanbul; 75.
  4. ^ Klaas R. Veenhof : "Modern" features in Old Assyrian Trade. In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 40, 1997, p. 338.
  5. ^ Gojko Barjamovic: A Historical Geography of Anatolia in the Old Assyrian Colony Period ; Copenhagen 2011. ISBN 978-87-635-3645-5 , p. 55.
  6. ^ Klaas R. Veenhof: "Modern" features in Old Assyrian Trade. In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 40, 1997, p. 336.
  7. "The Old Assyrian Merchant Archives of Kültepe" , UNESCO Memory of the World, accessed on February 9, 2016.
  8. ^ Gojko Barjamovic: A Historical Geography of Anatolia in the Old Assyrian Colony Period ; Copenhagen 2011. ISBN 978-87-635-3645-5 , p. 231.
  9. ^ Maryanne W. Newton et al .: A Dendrochronological Framework for the Assyrian Colony Period in Asia Minor ; TÜBA-AR VII 2004 ( PDF ).
  10. Canit Günbattı: An Eponym List (KEL G) from Kültepe. In: Altorientalische Forschungen 35, 2008, pp. 103-132.
  11. ^ Klaas R. Veenhof: The Old Assyrian list of year eponyms from Karum Kanish and its chronological implications ; Turkish Historical Society, Ankara 2003.
  12. Canit Günbattı: An Eponym List (KEL G) from Kültepe. In: Altorientalische Forschungen 35, 2008, pp. 103-132.
  13. ^ Gojko Barjamovic: A Historical Geography of Anatolia in the Old Assyrian Colony Period ; Copenhagen 2011, ISBN 978-87-635-3645-5 . P. 230.
  14. ^ Massimo Forlanini: The historical geography of Anatolia and the transition from the kārum-period to the Early Hittite Empire ; Old Assyrian Archives Studies 3 (2008), 59-69. ISBN 978-90-6258-322-5 . Pp. 76-78.
  15. Guido Kryszat: Ruler, cult and cult tradition in Anatolia. In: Altorientalische Forschungen 35, 2008, p. 210.
  16. Guido Kryszat: Ruler, cult and cult tradition in Anatolia. In: Altorientalische Forschungen 35, 2008, p. 210.
  17. Ahmet Ünal : Ḫattušili III. Part I. Ḫattušili up to his accession to the throne. In: Annelies Kammenhuber (Ed.): Texts from the Hittiter Volume 3, Carl Winter Universitätsverlag, Heidelberg 1974, p. 31.
  18. Klaas R. Veenhof: Mesopotamia. The Old Assyrian Period ; 2008. p. 56.
  19. ^ Tahsin Özgüç: Kültepe. Kaniš / Neša. The earliest International Trading Center and the oldest capital of the Hittites ; Tokyo 2003. pp. 24-25.
  20. Helga Willinghöfer (Red.): The Hittites and their empire . Exhibition catalog. Theiss, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-8062-1676-2 . P. 43f.
  21. Ilya S. Yakubovich: Sociolinguistics of the Luvian Language ; Leiden 2010. ISBN 978-90-04-17791-8 . P. 269.
  22. Thomas Zehnder: The Hittite women's names ; Wiesbaden 2010. ISBN 978-3-447-06139-1 .
  23. Gernot Wilhelm: Hurrians in the Kültepe texts ; in: Anatolia and the Jazira during the Old Assyrian Period. Leiden 2008, pp. 181-193. ISBN 978-90-6258-322-5 . P. 267
  24. Klaas R. Veenhof: Mesopotamia. The Old Assyrian Period ; 2008. p. 105.
  25. ^ WF Leemans: Foreign trade in the Old Babylonian period as revealed by texts from southern Mesopotamia ; Studia et documenta ad iura Orientis antiqui pertinentia 6. Brill, Leiden 1960, p. 99.
  26. Klaas R. Veenhof: Mesopotamia. The Old Assyrian Period ; 2008. p. 84
  27. Klaas R. Veenhof: Mesopotamia. The Old Assyrian Period ; 2008. p. 82.
  28. Klaas R. Veenhof: Mesopotamia. The Old Assyrian Period ; 2008. p. 86.
  29. ^ Hildegard Lewy: Neša. In: Journal of Cuneiform Studies 17, 1963, p. 104.
  30. ^ Gojko Barjamovic: A Historical Geography of Anatolia in the Old Assyrian Colony Period ; Copenhagen 2011. ISBN 978-87-635-3645-5 , p. 172.
  31. ^ Gojko Barjamovic: A Historical Geography of Anatolia in the Old Assyrian Colony Period ; Copenhagen 2011. ISBN 978-87-635-3645-5 , pp. 14. 22. 36-37.
  32. Klaas R. Veenhof: Mesopotamia. The Old Assyrian Period ; 2008. p. 180.
  33. Klaas R. Veenhof: Mesopotamia. The Old Assyrian Period ; 2008. p. 180.
  34. Klaas R. Veenhof: Mesopotamia. The Old Assyrian Period ; 2008. p. 220ff.
  35. Klaas R. Veenhof: Mesopotamia. The Old Assyrian Period ; 2008. pp. 225-226.
  36. Guido Kryszat: Ruler, rule and cult tradition in Anatolia according to the sources from the old Assyrian trading colonies - Part 2: Gods, priests and festivals of Old Anatolia. In: Altorientalische Forschungen 33, 2006, pp. 102–124.
  37. Volkert Haas: History of the Hittite Religion ; Leiden 1994. ISBN 90-04-09799-6 . P. 568.
  38. Guido Kryszat: Ruler, rule and cult tradition in Anatolia according to the sources from the old Assyrian trading colonies - Part 2: Gods, priests and festivals of Old Anatolia. In: Altorientalische Forschungen 33, 2006, pp. 102–124.
  39. Guido Kryszat: Ruler, rule and cult tradition in Anatolia according to the sources from the old Assyrian trading colonies - Part 2: Gods, priests and festivals of Old Anatolia. In: Altorientalische Forschungen 33, 2006, pp. 102–124.
  40. Guido Kryszat: Ruler, rule and cult tradition in Anatolia according to the sources from the old Assyrian trading colonies - Part 2: Gods, priests and festivals of Old Anatolia. In: Altorientalische Forschungen 33, 2006, pp. 102–124.
  41. Volkert Haas: Religions of the Ancient Orient: Hittites and Iran . Göttingen 2011. ISBN 978-3-525-51695-9 , p. 153.
  42. Guido Kryszat: Ruler, cult and cult tradition in Anatolia. In: Altorientalische Forschungen 35, 2006, p. 206.
  43. ^ Gojko Barjamovic, Mogens Trolle Laresen: An Old Assyrian Incantation against the Evil Eye. In: Altorientalische Forschungen 35, 2008, pp. 144–155.
  44. ^ Gojko Barjamovic, Mogens Trolle Laresen: An Old Assyrian Incantation against the Evil Eye. In: Altorientalische Forschungen 35, 2008, pp. 144–155.
  45. Volkert Haas: The Hittite literature ; Berlin 2006. ISBN 978-3-11-018877-6 . P. 280.


  • Nimet Özgüç: Seals and seal impressions of the level Ib from Karum-Kanish. Ankara 1968.
  • M. Larsen: The Old-Assyrian city state and its colonies. Copenhagen 1976.
  • Emin Bilgiç (Ed.): Ankara Kültepe tabletleri. (Ankaraner Kültepe tablets), Türk Tarih Kurumu Yayinlarindan, Ankara 1990.
  • Emin Bilgiç, Karl Hecker (transl.): Ankaraner Kültepe texts, texts from the excavation campaign 1970. Freiburg ancient oriental studies, supplements: ancient Assyrian texts and investigations 3, Steiner, Stuttgart 1995.
  • Cécile Michel: Tablettes paleo-assyriennes de Kültepe. Boccard, Paris 1997.
  • Gil Stein: The political economy of Mesopotamian colonial encounters. In Gil Stein (Ed.): The archeology of colonial encounters: comparative perspectives. School of American Research advanced seminar series, Santa Fe, School of American Research Press, 2005.
  • Klaas R. Veenhof, Jesper Eidem: Mesopotamia. The Old Assyrian Period. Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 160/5; Friborg 2008. ISBN 978-3-7278-1623-9 .
  • Beyond Babylon. Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium BC Metropolitan Museum, New York 2008, ISBN 978-1-58839-295-4 , pp. 70-81.
  • Fikri Kulakoğlu, Selmin Kangal (ed.): Anatolia's prologue Kultepe Kanesh Karum. Assyrians in Istanbul. Seçil Ofset, Istanbul; Kayseri Metropolitan Municipality, Kayseri 2010. ISBN 978-975-8046-79-9 (catalog of an exhibition Istanbul, Irenenkirche 2010-11).
  • Mogens Trolls Larsen: Ancient Kanesh. A merchant colony in bronze age Anatolia . Cambridge University Press, New York 2015, ISBN 978-1-10711-956-7 .

Web links

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