Kingdoms don’t come much more lost or forgotten than Tuwana. When the Hittite Empire (the alpha dog of Bronze Age Anatolia) fell, Tuwana was one of a handful of city-states which helped fill the power vacuum in what is now Turkey.
During the ninth and eighth centuries B.C., Tuwana rose to prominence under a series of kings, of which only a few are known from inscriptions. Tuwana leveraged its position between the Phrygian and Assyrian empires to facilitate trade throughout Anatolia. As a result it amassed significant wealth.
In addition to its strong trading economy, Tuwana seems to have possessed great cultural riches. The kingdom used a hieroglyphic language called Luwian, but later adopted the alphabetical Phoenician script. It turns out this could have been pretty important, since Tuwana’s position as a link between east and west put the forgotten kingdom into contact with elements of ancient Greek culture. It’s possible that one result of all the linguistic interaction in Tuwana may been the origin of the Greek alphabet. Not too bad for a kingdom you’ve never heard of.
It seems Tuwana’s central location and the disunity of the Anatolian city-states made the kingdom ripe for the taking in the early 700s B.C. As the Assyrian Empire expanded westward, it rolled up each of the post-Hittite city-states along its way until to controlling most of the Middle East.
If that all sounds rather speculative, it’s because up until 2012, all that was known about Tuwana was based on a handful of inscriptions and a few mentions in some Assyrian documents. The recent discovery of a massive city believed to be the base of Tuwana’s power is changing all that.
With such a large and well-preserved find, archaeologists have begun piecing together the story of a powerful and wealthy kingdom, which controlled trade through the Cilician Gates for several centuries. And considering that the Cilician pass was like a highly compressed Silk Road, Tuwana’s archaeological potential is tremendous.