The archaeological landscapes of the Konya Plain are proving invaluable in our understanding of the formation, maintenance and collapse of the earliest states on the Anatolian Peninsula. One of the most compelling data sets include the network of fortified hilltops identified initially in the surveys of Hasan Bahar, with additional sites found by KRASP (figure 1). While the fortification walls are in most cases dateable to the late 1st millennium BC, many of these sites have ceramic assemblages that point to earlier use and occupation during the Iron and Bronze Ages. Indeed several hilltop sites yield clear ceramic evidence that indicates their occupation during the early-mid 3rd millennium BCE. This defensive network strongly suggests a strategy to control strategic access points into the Konya Plain, hinting at a process of territorial state formation that reached a mature stage already in the early 2nd millennium BC.

In the 2019 field season we initiated a programme of digital architectural recording of several forts with drone photogrammetry. Seçme Kalesi in particular proved to be the largest pre-Hellenistic fortress in the region (ca 290x115m in size), and its fortification is clearly dateable to the Middle Iron Age (9th-7th century BCE). Drone photogrammetry has allowed to document in great detail the main structure (figure 2), composed of a fortification wall, a 3-6m wide external glacis, a single gate in the north-east, and numerous buildings inside. Intensive survey has further provided detailed information about the dates for the occupation of the fort, almost continuously used between the Middle Bronze Age and the Roman period. 

Combining archaeological and textual evidence, we are bringing forward the hypothesis that the region was a core component of the kingdom of Tarhuntašša, an antagonist of the Hittite Empire during the 13th and early 12th century BCE (figure 3). While there is an intense scholarly debate around the location of its capital, we sugges that this might be located at Türkmen-Karahöyük, which is by far the largest centre in the region at the time.

In 2019, the discovery of a Hieroglyphic Luwian inscription at Türkmen-Karahöyük further provided exciting new data, strongly suggesting that the site may have also been the hitherto unknown capital of an Iron Age king called Hartapu. The philological analysis of the new text, conducted by Petra Goedegebuure and Theo van den Hout (Oriental Institute), provisionally dates it to the 8th century BCE. In the inscription, Hartapu claims to have conquered Muška, provisionally identified with the Iron Age kingdom of Phrygia, as well as a coalition of thirteen kings that we suggest may have been part of the Tabal confederation.

King Hartapu is known from other similar inscriptions in the region (notably at nearby Kızıldağ and Karadağ), and at least in one case he seems to have made similar claims of conquest. If his claims are correct, he would have been one of the major players in southern-central Anatolia, but currently none of the other dozens of inscriptions commissioned by other contemporary kings ever mention his name.