Archaeological excavations at Kınık Höyük started in 2011 as a 10-years joint project of the University of Pavia and the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University, with the participation of the Universities of Niğde and Erzurum.
The site of Kınık Höyük is located in Southern Cappadocia, in the province of Niğde, at the foot of Melendiz Dağları. This region played a strategic role from Prehistory up to modern times due to its geographical position on the route connecting the Central Anatolian plateau to Cilicia, through the Taurus passes, and far beyond to Syria and Mesopotamia. Despite its importance, so far the province of Niğde has received little attention from scholars, particularly as regards the Bronze and Iron Ages. With a view to bridging this gap, our team from the University of Pavia carried out an archaeological survey in the region between 2006 and 2009. Investigations involved an area of around 800 km2 between the southern slopes of Melendiz Dağları and the northern fringes of the Bor-Ereğli plain, and enabled our team from the University of Pavia to record 37 archaeological sites dating from the Chalcolithic to the Middle Age. Among these sites, we recognized Kınık Höyük as the most important for the purposes of our research group, being the largest of the sites with a significant ceramic surface collection dating to pre-Classical periods.
The citadel of the site is a ca. 20 m high mound, 180m in diameter, rising on a roughly square terrace, which is 300m wide. However, the abundance of ceramic sherds collected in the fields surrounding the mound and the terrace proves the existence of a larger lower town. Including this, the site measures 24 ha in total. Judging by the ceramics collected during the intensive survey, the site would appear to have been occupied from the Early Bronze Age through the Medieval Period, but considering the quantity and distribution of ceramic sherds the major occupation phases of the site most likely correspond to the Late Bronze Age (1650-1200 BCE) and the Middle Iron Age (900-700 BCE).
Interestingly, the Neo-Hittite monumental rock reliefs and steles found in the region date to this latter period. All of them are attributed to the rulers of Tuwana, a very important kingdom during the 8 th century BCE which, however, has been under-investigated by archaeologists. If the current dimensions of K ınık correspond to those of the 1st millennium BCE settlement, it must have been one of the most prominent centers of Tuwana. The expected Late Bronze Age levels, moreover, would correspond to the Hittite occupation of the site, when it probably was a center of regional importance.
In 2010, geomagnetic and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) surveys were performed at Kınık that produced very promising results. In fact, they underlined an elliptic stone structure completely encircling the slope of the mound, thus evidencing an underlying fortification wall. Moreover, other traces on the top of the mound accounted for the presence of buildings in this area.