4,000-Year-Old Tablets with Evidence of Bronze Age Rights for Women Discovered in Turkey
Great finds continue to be unearthed at the Bronze Age site of Kültepe-Kaniş-Karum, in Turkey. The latest discovery includes millennia old cuneiform tablets referring to commercial interests as well as personal and social topics. Perhaps the most startling discovery is the inclusion of tablets discussing women's rights.
Kültepe-Kaniş-Karum (Kultepe) is located in Kayseri province, Turkey. It was a well-known ancient trade colony that has been of interest to archaeologists since 1948. It is estimated that approximately 70,000 people inhabited the settlement four millennia ago. Artifacts from the early and middle Bronze Age as well as the Iron Age and Ancient Greece and Rome have been discovered at this site.
As reported in the Hurriyet Daily News, when excavations began again this summer, the archaeologists were certain to find more information regarding ancient life at the expansive site of Kultepe. In a short amount of time, they have added numerous cuneiform tablets to the already immense collection of commercial tablets found in past excavations. This time however, more personal and social writing has emerged.
Cuneiform tablets, Kultepe, Turkey (DHA Photos)
“From women’s rights to the adoption of children and marriages arranged at birth, the tablets include all kinds of civilizational and social data from Anatolia 4,000 years ago. There is also an emotional letter from a woman to her husband and a letter from another woman who complains about her mother-in-law. You can’t find such things in an empire’s official archive,” Professor Fikri Kulakoğlu of Ankara University, told Doğan News Agency.
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Though great detail has not yet been provided on the exact content of the cuneiform tablets discussing women's rights, this is an interesting topic to find in the Bronze Age site, but not the first example we have seen regarding gender equality in ancient Turkey. Ancient Origins has already depicted that men and women in ancient Turkey lived in equality at the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük.
Hittite relief of the influential Queen Puduhep and King Hebat, Kayseri, Turkey (Wikimedia Commons)
In total, 23,500 cuneiform tablets have been discovered in Kultepe over the years of excavations. The numerous examples of ancient writing was explained by Prof. Fikri Kulakoğlu to Doğan News Agency: “Kultepe is where the Anatolian enlightenment began. The people in this area were literate much earlier than other places in Anatolia, including its west.”
A highlight of other important artifacts that have been unearthed at Kultepe include: the largest monumental structure of the Middle East, an ancient baby rattle, and a cuneiform tablet dating to 2000 BC describing the local kingdoms in Anatolia during that time.
Ruins of Hittite Palace at Kultepe, Turkey (Wikimedia Commons)
There have undoubtedly been numerous discoveries made at Kultepe, despite the fact that only a small section of the site has been excavated. Officials have suggested that it may take upwards to 5,000 years to excavate the entire ancient site due to the immensity. Though this timeframe may be something of an exaggeration, there is certainly much more for Kultepe to unveil to us in the future.
“This is a huge wealth,” Kulakoğlu stated in a news report. He hopes that the wealth of cultural materials found and still waiting to be re-discovered, will one day lead to Kultepe's inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
There certainly is a great value. The recent discoveries at Kultepe, are demonstrating once again that archaeology is as much about telling the human story in seemingly common artifacts as well as the sacred and monumental. These small-in-size-but heavy-in-content artifacts describe to us just as much, or perhaps more, as large statues about the daily events of ancient life.
Featured Image: Recent Excavations at Kultepe, Turkey (BGN News)