Crossing Millenia in a Day – From Hittite Kultepe to Seljuk Sivas

Kaniš, also known as Kültepe, is an archaeological site located about 20 kilometers northeast of Kayseri city center. A major Hittite trade center during the Bronze Age, it’s one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Anatolia, dating back to around the 3rd millennium BCE. The site’s tell includes the Assyrian civilization and the ancient city’s habitation, as well as a lower town where an Assyrian village was found. Inscriptions from the 20th and 19th century BCE refer to the city as Kanes, while later Hittite inscriptions call it Nesa or, sometimes, Anisa.

More on  the Hittites à  Hattussas

Kaniš/Kültepe was a critical hub for trade between the Hittites and various ancient Mesopotamian cultures, particularly the Assyrians. It was a melting pot of various cultures and languages, and evidence of extensive trade networks has been found in the form of cuneiform tablets.

The Assyrian colony and city-state trade, which was mostly carried out by families rather than the state, has been clarified by the finding of several clay tablets at Kültepe. The oldest records discovered in Anatolia are on these tablets, which are written in Old Assyrian. The majority of the material discovered in Kültepe is typical of Anatolia, not Assyria, despite the texts’ use of loanwords and names from the Hittite language, which indicates the presence of an Indo-European language. The employment of both dialect and cuneiform indicates an Assyrian presence even more. It is also the location of the earliest Hittite language remains, which date to around 20 centuries BC. 

The term “karum” in Hittite refers to a type of commercial district or trading post associated with the Hittite empire. : Kaniš (Kültepe) is often referred to as the karum of Kanesh, highlighting its status as a significant trade center within the Hittite sphere.

These sites are crucial for understanding the early interactions and commerce between various ancient civilizations in the Near East. The cuneiform tablets found at Kaniš/Kültepe have been instrumental in reconstructing the history of the Hittite Empire and its relationships with neighboring powers.


The Seljuks of Rum, also known as the Anatolian Seljuks, were a medieval Turkish Sunni Muslim dynasty that ruled parts of Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) from the 11th to the 13th century. Sivas, located in central Turkey, was an important city during the Seljuk period. There are several historical and architectural sites associated with the Seljuks in and around Sivas:

Sivas Grand Mosque (Sivas Ulu Camii) is one of the most significant architectural landmarks in Sivas. It was built in the 12th century during the Seljuk period and is a fine example of Seljuk architecture.

Gök Medrese Mosque (Gök Medrese Camii) is a fine example of Seljuk architecture, a style that was prevalent during the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum in the 12th and 13th centuries. Built by the vizier Sahip Ata Fahrettin Ali., around the year 1271, during the reign of the Seljuk Sultan Kayqubad.

The mosque is relatively small with  a rectangular layout. It features a single dome and a minaret with a conical top. turquoise and dark blue tiles on the exterior give the mosque its name (“Gök” means “sky” in Turkish). The interior of the mosque is decorated with intricate tilework, geometric patterns, and calligraphic inscriptions. These elements are characteristic of Seljuk art and architecture.

Other points of interest near Sivas:

Sivas Castle: While the original castle dates back to Roman times, it was later modified and expanded during the Seljuk period.

Buruciye Medrese: Although it was built during the late Seljuk period, it’s considered more of a transition between Seljuk and Ottoman architectural styles. It’s also located in Sivas and served as a medrese.

Çifte Minareli Medrese: Located in the nearby city of Erzurum, this is another example of Seljuk architecture, known for its double minarets.

Divriği Great Mosque and Hospital (Divriği Ulu Camii ve Darüşşifası): This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture and is in the nearby town of Divriği. It was built in the 13th century and is known for its intricate carvings and architectural details.

Kayseri Grand Mosque (Kayseri Ulu Camii): While Kayseri is a bit further from Sivas, it was an important city during the Seljuk period, and the grand mosque there is a notable example of Seljuk architecture.

By Cascoly

I've been exploring and leading trips for over 40 years. climbing & trekkng in the Alps, Andes, North American mountain ranges and the Himalaya. I'm retired from mountaineering now but world travels in Europe, Africa & Asia continue to expand my portfolio. Besides private travel, I now focus on escorting trips to India & Turkey. Other interests include wide reading in history and vegetable gardening / cooking. You can download digital images here, or find images at We have many thousands of images we haven't displayed yet; so, if you have a special need or request please contact us