Tablet about payment of donkey debt discovered in Kültepe believed to be oldest trade document
KAYSERİ - Doğan News Agency
The text about the sale of a donkey was found in a grave in Kültepe. DHA PhotoArchaeologists working on the Kültepe-Kaniş-Karum trade colony in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri have discovered a trade document believed to be the world’s oldest.
Ankara University Archaeology Department academic and the head of the excavations, Professor Fikri Kulakoğlu, said the artifact mentioned the payment of a “donkey debt.”
“We found an interesting thing in the grave. For the first time in Kültepe, a tablet was found in a grave. We were very happy. We thought that it was a prayer text for the dead to pass to the other world easily. We had a philologist friend and he read it. It turned out to be a text about the sale of a donkey. It was a surprise for us. The text says ‘when you read this letter of me, go to the owner of the donkey and give him silver,’” the professor said.
Kulakoğlu said the region was known as the place where writing was first used in Anatolia. Speaking about this year’s goals in the excavations, the professor said: “This is one of the largest settlements in Asia Minor and one of the largest ones of the ancient world with an area of three square kilometers.
This year our goal is to unearth a big palace-like structure in Kültepe. We will work there for four-five months there. On the other hand, we will find the neighborhoods and houses where Assyrian traders lived.”
Kaniş-Karum was home to some 25,000 tablets and the colony is a candidate to join the UNESCO World Heritage List, he said.