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Stone stelae and religious space at Kültepe-Kaneš
Anatolian Studies  (IF),  Pub Date : 2016-06-29, DOI: 10.1017/s006615461600003x
Yağmur Heffron

Prior to the emergence of the fully officialised temples of the Hittite state, formal religious space in Anatolia is recognisable in a handful of small shrines or sanctuaries. Presumably at the service of local communities, but neither monumental nor formulaic, such shrines attest to a modest if eclectic range of religious activities in the early second millennium. Also to be included in this range are rituals which took place within the domestic sphere, pointing to private family-based concerns, rather than a communal agenda, guiding ritual activity. Such spaces are conspicuous in the Lower Town settlement of the well-known site of Kültepe-Kaneš, where a small number of private houses were furnished with a cultic installation in the form of a stone stele. Associated with a range of other symbolically charged elements (such as ritual vessels, foundation or votive deposits), these stelae are a stark testimony to the practice of delineating permanent, formalised ritual space within quotidian domestic space. This article offers a detailed examination of stone stelae at Kültepe-Kaneš in order to identify meaningful frameworks of contextual analysis, cross-cultural comparanda and correlation of the archaeological data with visual and textual accounts of cult activity in a society in which local Anatolian and northern Mesopotamian elements intermixed over several generations from the beginning of the 20th to that of the 17th century BC.