History Files


Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Anatolia




MapHatti (Kanesh / Nesa)

Probably an aboriginal people in central Anatolia, from at least 2500 BC onwards, the Hatti occupied the mountain city state of Hattusa, and were probably responsible for the states at Hassum, Kanesh, and Purushanda, among others. Sometimes mentioned briefly in Sumerian and Assyrian texts, in the eighteenth century BC their homeland was invaded by the Hittites, and within about a century they had been conquered and replaced. However, their former homeland was still known as the 'Land of the Hatti' until the seventh century BC.

Quite possibly an aboriginal people in central Anatolia, the Hatti of Kanesh spoke a non-Indo-European language called Hattic which was probably related to the Circassian language group. Their eastern neighbours probably spoke a very similar tongue, the Khaldi (Chalybes or Chaldoi - their easternmost groups were later part of Urartu and some of them may also have formed the Halizones).

Kanesh was located about twenty kilometres north-east of the modern village of Kayseri. It was generally known by the name of Nesha or Nesa in local records, but the Assyrians called it Kanesh, and this is how it is generally known. In Kanesh's heyday, an area was set aside in the city specifically for the use of Assyrian merchants who were exempt from being taxed. When the city was burned, the Assyrians had to abandon their property just as everyone else did, leaving it to be found by archaeologists.

(Additional information from The Horse The Wheel and Language: How Bronze Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, David W Anthony.)

c.2700 BC

Trade routes in the region via Alakhtum are already well established with the cities of Sumer.

c.2500 BC

Kanesh is one of many small states in the region which is supported by farming and which produces a distinctive, highly-burnished pottery. The Hattian Early Period begins here with levels IV and then III of the city, although the lack of textual evidence suggests the inhabitants are illiterate.

late 23rd cent BC


Contemporary with Pamba of Hattusa.

According to later tradition (from the fifteenth century BC), Naram-Sin of Akkad campaigns in Anatolia. He marches against a coalition of seventeen kings, including Pamba of Hattusa and Zipani. While unproven, the legend demonstrates that Anatolian states are able to act in union, although no one state has achieved dominion over any others at this stage.

c.2000 BC

The Assyrians establish a trading colony at Kanesh, which may well be within Hattian territorial boundaries, as well as another in Hattusa itself, the Hatti capital. Findings of royal seals with the name of Ibbi-Sin of Ur also suggests that there may be a Sumerian presence here from at least 2025 BC. The local Kütepe period civilisation (2000-1700 BC) which is based at Kanesh is at its height between 1950-1800 BC. This is the start of the Hattian Middle Period.

The Kültepe tablets
The Kültepe tablets were written by Assyrian traders who were based at Kanesh between 1920-1740 BC. They record business transactions in the Old Assyrian dialect of Akkadian

fl c.1845? BC


fl c.1840? BC


Perhaps partial joint ruler and successor to Hurmeli.

c.1835 BC

Kanesh is attacked (Level II), as there are clear archaeological signs that the city is burned to the ground at this time. The attack is attributed by some to Uhna of Zalpa, this then being the point at which he carries off the idol of the city's god, Sius. The city is abandoned for around thirty years until about 1800 BC and then a new city is built over the ruins (Level Ib). The new city prospers and trades with Shamshi-Adad's kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia.

early 18th cent BC

The arrival of the Hittites sees them invade Hatti territory and conquer the city of Kussara (presently unlocated, but possibly to the south-east of Kanesh). This they make the capital of their new kingdom.


King of Kanesh.

fl c.1770 BC


Son. King of Kanesh. Defeated by the Hittites?

early 18th cent BC

The Hittites conquer Kanesh, the centre of the Assyrian trading colonies in Anatolia, under leadership of Pithana. The city is destroyed by fire and Assyrian trading is ended, but it seems the majority of the population is unharmed by the invaders. The city is re-inhabited and rebuilt, but by Hittites, not Hattians (Level Ia). The early Hittites refer to themselves as Neshites after this city ('Hittite' is an error made by the other ancient empires when they fail to differentiate between the early Hatti and their conquerors).

late18th cent BC

Kanesh is probably destroyed by a king of Salatiwara. The Hittites withdraw to Kussara for the next century.

1000 BC

While it is rebuilt under Hittite control, Kanesh fails to achieve any level of greatness after the loss of the Assyrian trading post. Following the fall of the Hittites, Kanesh is one of the foremost cities of the kingdom of Tabal. The decorated palaces which are built here are later destroyed during the Hellenistic and Roman periods when Kanesh is within the kingdom of Cappadocia.