The Seljuk Han of Anatolia

ELI-KESIK HAN


 

 

the above photos date from 2007

 

 

DISTRICT
42 KONYA


LOCATION
The Eli-Kesik han is located on the Konya-Derbent road, about 21 km outside of Konya in the district of Derbent. Before reaching the bridge over the Altinapa Dam, there is a road sign for Derbent to the north (turn right). The han is about 7 miles past the turnoff, next to the small Başara River and near the village of Gneyky (Kalburcu). It lies at the base of Mount Aladağ.

 

The Eli-Kesik Han is located on the former caravan route which connected Derbent and Doğanhisar, but no traces of this former caravan route remain, as it is now covered over by the modern highway. The previous han on this road coming from the direction of Konya is the Altinapa Han. This former caravan road led to Derbent and Doğanhisar, and was used by the Seljuks as frequently as the current one linking Konya to Beyşehir. However, as the han is located off the main road to Konya, it has not drawn much attention by voyagers and researchers over the years.


NAMES

Derbent Han

 

This han is not mentioned in an historical sources, and the only voyager to have mentioned it is Sarre, who called it the Eli Kesik Han. The han is marked on the map of Kiepert as Eli-Kesik.

 

The odd name of this han, the "Han of the Cut-Hand" may have been given for an incident that happened here.

 

DATE
As the inscription plaque has been lost, the names of the patron, architect, and construction date are not known.

The building is very similar to the Kurueşme and Altinapa Hans, which are both located on the same route, and, is thus generally similarly dated to the early 13th century, 1200-1210.

 

REIGN OF

Probably Giyaseddin Keyhsrev I


INSCRIPTION

The inscription plaque is missing.

 

PATRON
Unknown.

 

BUILDING TYPE

Covered section with an open courtyard (COC)
Covered section and courtyard of the same width
Covered section with 3 naves (a central aisle and 1 aisle on each side, perpendicular to the rear wall)

4 lines of support cross vaults parallel to the rear wall
 

DESCRIPTION
This han faces southeast towards Konya, and lies perpendicular to the road. It is oriented northwest-southeast, with the northwest side facing the hillside and the entrance facing the southeast.

 

The Eli-Kesik Han was designed with two parts: an open courtyard and a covered section. The covered section is wider than the courtyard.

 

The covered section is divided into three naves. The central have is higher and wider than the side naves (5m width for the central nave and 3m for the lateral naves). There are four pointed arches on three piers which extend to the rear wall in the north-south direction. The piers are connected to each other by horizontal arches in the east-west direction, which have now completely collapsed. Traces of the raised platforms used for loading and unloading the pack animals can be seen in the central nave of the covered section. In addition, the stones of the feeding and watering troughs for the animals can be seen in front of the platforms, and a tandir pit oven has been identified in the central nave. Lighting of the covered section was provided by slit windows and square openings to the rear of the eastern vault.

 

Extensive reuse spolia material was used in the construction of this han, as is the case for many hans in the Konya region, such as the Kurueşme, Kizilren, Zazadin and Obruk Hans. Most of the arches rest on spolia columns from the Byzantine era, and antique capitals and column bases can also be noted. Window and architrave sections from the Roman period were used on the interior faces of the central nave, but not in the side naves. These spolia materials were collected from the ruins of the churches of the region. In addition, pieces with Greek inscriptions were found inside the han, which were noted and published by Sarre in 1885. He also stated that some stones with figures at various places in the building, although none remain today.

 

The entry portal to the covered section, built with a slightly-pointed arch, projects about 1 m from the main wall. The stones of this crown door have now collapsed, but the door was standing when Erdmann visited the han. The configuration of the door resembles several of the hans of the Konya region (Dokuzun, Altinapa and Kurueşme). Of note is the long wooden stretcher beam placed at the rear of the door frame, used as a shock absorption mechanism in case of seismic movement.

 

There are no support towers on the outer walls of the han. The walls were made of pitch-faced stones using the rubble wall technique.

 

This han has a small courtyard, with only 2 cells on each side, which were used as service facilities. These have collapsed, but their traces remain on the ground. The exact form of the crown door to the courtyard is not known, but it was probably similar to that of the covered section. This small courtyard is the distinguishing feature of this han.

 

A mosque may have existed to the front of the courtyard. There are traces of a room on the east side of the han, believed to be a bath. A water trough exists in the courtyard. The ruins of buildings to the east, added at a later date when the han served as a guard post, can be seen.

 

This is one of the earliest Seljuk hans in Turkey, and is a part of the dense chain of hans between Konya and Beyşehir (Altinapa, Kurueşme, Kandemir, and the now lost Yunuslar hans), all believed built at approximately the same date. In view of its small size and the lack of decoration, this was probably a minor han.
 

DECORATION

The hall door tympanum probably once held an inscription plaque, but it is now empty, as it was when Sarre visited the han. There is no recessed area for a plaque on the entrance door to the courtyard. There is no decoration on this han, except for the many reuse (spolia) stones that are found throughout the structure. The presence of Byzantine reuse stones from nearby Christian churches is frequently seen in the hans of the Konya region, such as in the Altinapa, Obruk, Kadin and Zazadin hans.

 

DIMENSIONS
This is not a particularly large han:

Total external area: approximately 385m2.
Covered section area: 250 m2
Courtyard area: 135m2


STATE OF CONSERVATION, CURRENT USAGE
The han is in good condition and may be visited. It is in a peaceful rural setting of a fields and poplar trees (a pleasant spot for a picnic lunch). An Ottoman han stands nearby. Excavations were carried out starting in 2008, but they unfortunately did not comply with scientific procedures, leading to an altering of the original aspect of the courtyard.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES

Acun, p. 495.

Eravşar, 2001.

Erdmann, no. 5, p. 39-40 (numerous photos).

Karpuz, Kuş, Dıvarcı and Şiek (2008), vol. 2, p. 134.

Kiepert, 1902-1916.

Kuş, Seluklu, pp. 39-40.

Sarre, 1896, p. 110.

Talbot-Rıce, p. 206.

 

 

 

southeast exterior wall

Spolia reuse stones from a Byzantine church

 

Spolia reuse stones from a Byzantine church

Spolia reuse stones from a Byzantine church

 

 

 

 

traces of side cells of courtyard

The Ottoman Kavak Han to the east of the Eli-Kesik Han

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2001-2017, Katharine Branning; All Rights Reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced in any form without written consent from the author.