The ancient Anatolian city of Kanesh (present-day Kultepe, Turkey) was a continuously inhabited site from the early Bronze Age through Roman times. The city flourished c.2000-1750 BCE as an Old Assyrian trade outpost and the earliest attested commercial society in world history. More than 23,000 elaborate clay tablets from private merchant houses provide a detailed description of a system of long-distance trade that reached from central Asia to the Black Sea region and the Aegean. The texts record common activities such as trade between Kanesh and the city state of Assur, and between Assyrian merchants and local people. The tablets tell us about the economy as well as the culture, language, religion, and private lives of individuals we can identify by name, occupation, and sometimes even personality. This book presents an in-depth account of this vibrant Bronze Age Anatolian society, revealing the daily lives of its inhabitants.
Mogens Trolle Larsen (University of Copenhagen)
Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:
21 September 2015
Professional and scholarly
1. Introduction; Part I. Beginnings: 2. The discovery; 3. The mound at Kultepe; 4. The lower town; 5. Understanding the texts; 6. Chronology and change; Part II. The Home Town: 7. Assur; 8. The king in Assur; 9. The government of a city; 10. The year eponym; Part III. Anatolia: 11. The Anatolians and their land; 12. The colonial system; 13. The government of a colony; Part IV. Economy and Society: 14. The caravan trade; 15. Quantities and origins; 16. Families and money; 17. Where did the money come from?; 18. Law and death; Part V. Cultures: 19. Cultural interaction; 20. Religion; Part VI. Interpretations: 21. Economic theory and evidence.
Mogens Trolle Larsen is Emeritus Professor of Assyriology at the University of Copenhagen. He has written books and articles on Assyriology and archaeology, and has edited a number of volumes. His book, The Conquest of Assyria: Excavations in an Antique Land, was published in 1996. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, Academia Europea, and the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters.
Reviews for Ancient Kanesh: A Merchant Colony in Bronze Age Anatolia
'In [this] beautifully detailed new book ... we meet dozens of the traders of Kanesh and their relatives back home in Assur. Larsen has been able to construct family trees, detailing how siblings and cousins, parents and spouses, traded with one another and often worked against one another.' Adam Davidson, The New York Times Magazine