Archaeobotanical samples from the Middle Bronze Age (MBA; c. 2000–1700 b.c.) city of Kanesh, excavated at the site of Kültepe in Kayseri Province, Turkey, preserve the charred shells of hazelnut (Corylus sp.). Hazelnut species do not naturally grow in the Kayseri area, being a native element of the broadleaf woodlands of Turkey’s Black Sea region, today home to a multi-million dollar international hazelnut export industry. The finds come from both the upper and lower city, being restricted to the Middle Bronze Age Karum level II, an occupation phase which saw the greatest development of the Assyrian trade network of which Kanesh was the administrative centre. This archaeobotanical discovery at Kültepe provides the earliest direct evidence for trade in hazelnuts in the region, probably imported on a small scale as luxury items facilitated by the Assyrian trade network. It also provides independent support for historical claims that hazelnut was traded at Kanesh based on the analysis of cuneiform tablets.
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Archaeobotanical research was supported by The University of Queensland and preparatory work was undertaken by Amanda Kennedy, Kirsten Bradley, Xavier Carah and Kaela Boniface. The 2011 excavations in the lower city were partially funded by Grant #890711 awarded to Levent Atici from the National Geographic Committee of Research and Exploration.
Communicated by G. Willcox.
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Fairbairn, A., Kulakoğlu, F. & Atici, L. Archaeobotanical evidence for trade in hazelnut (Corylus sp.) at Middle Bronze Age Kültepe (c. 1950–1830 b.c.), Kayseri Province, Turkey. Veget Hist Archaeobot 23, 167–174 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00334-013-0403-5