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The first company in Anatolia was founded 4000 years ago in Kültepe with 15 kilos of gold

A 4000-year-old tablet found in Kültepe, one of the most important karums of the Assyrian trade colonies, shows that the first company in Anatolia was established in Kültepe.

A 4000-year-old tablet found during excavations at Kültepe Karum, administrative center of the ten Karums established by the Assyrians in Anatolia, shows that the first company in Anatolia was founded by 12 people with 15 kilos of gold.

Kültepe Kanesh Karum
Thousands of cuneiform tablets were unearthed in Kültepe/Kanesh, the most important karum of Anatolia. Photo: Kayseri Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism

Excavations in Kültepe, 18 kilometers from Kayseri city center, have been going on for 75 years. More than 20 thousand cuneiform tablets have been found so far. These tablets reveal the commercial activities of the period in detail.

Prof. Dr. Fikri Kulakoğlu, head of excavations at the Kültepe ruins, said that the first company in Anatolia was established 4 thousand years ago by 12 people with 15 kilograms of gold.

Prof. Dr. Fikri Kulakoğlu, head of excavations at Kültepe Photo: IHA

Prof. Dr. Kulakoğlu states that most of the tablets in Kültepe were for commercial purposes and all kinds of financial transactions were recorded. Many details from the expenditures of caravans to debt and credit relations are included in these tablets. This shows that Kültepe was a very active and large trade center at that time.

Prof. Dr. Kulakoğlu stated that the information obtained from the tablets reveals that the first company established in Anatolia was established with a capital of 15 kilograms of gold and that this company had 12 partners. Each partner contributed different amounts of gold to the company. The company’s capital was managed by a merchant named Amur Ishtar for 12 years and one third of the profits were shared. All transactions related to the company were sealed and recorded in the presence of witnesses.

According to a 4,000-year-old cuneiform clay tablet found in Kültepe, the first company in Anatolia was founded with 15 kilograms of gold.

Kulakoglu said, “If you want to withdraw your share in the company’s capital before its maturity, you will be given about 4 kilos of silver instead of 1 kilo of gold. If you withdraw your capital before maturity, you will incur a loss. In other words, the capital is guaranteed to remain in place for as long as 12 years.”

“The tablets found here date to the period after the 1950s BC. This is the period when writing first started in Anatolia. Naturally, it is the first declaration of the first company in Anatolia, in a sense, a company deed. It appears here for the first time in Anatolia.”

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