The Seljuk Han of Anatolia

Seljuk Glass


Although glass is as old as civilization itself, few traces of it have been discovered in archeological sites in Turkey. Glass-making does not appear to have been an important industry in Anatolia, as compared to ancient Egypt, Iraq and Iran. Remains of glass ovens, dating from the 6th c. BC, h\ave been found at Sardis, the famous capital city of the Lydians, but no other oven remains have been discovered.

Intact glass objects from antiquity are rare, due to the fragile nature of the material. Compared to the contemporary production in Iran and Syria, no glass objects from Seljuk-era Turkey have been identified. However, the underwater archaeology expeditions of the Serce Limani shipwreck off the Turkish coast at Bodrum, dated to the 11th century, have shown that glass was an important maritime trading commodity in the area. In all probability, glass was imported by ship to Turkish ports along the Mediterranean from Syria and Iraq, the two major centers of glass production in the Islamic period. Some small-scale glass production must have existed in some form in Anatolia during the Seljuk period, much as it did in the other parts of the Near East at that time. Lamps and other daily implements were fabricated out of clay, and glass luxury items, such as beakers and platters, must have been a rare commodity cherished by those able to afford them.

The excavations of the site of the Kubadabad Palace of Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad I on Lake Beyşehir have revealed fragments of glass. Pieces of plain and stained window glass have been found in the small hamam of the Palace. Professor Rüchan Arik affirms that bracelets, beads, bottles, lamps (with and without handles) and drinking beakers, made in red, yellow and green glass, have been found on the site. She has also found the traces of a glass furnace on the site with glass on its walls, as well as remnants of the raw materials used in glass production (cullet and glass rods). These findings distinguish this furnace from a ceramics kiln. Simple wares such as lamps and goblets for everyday use were probably manufactured on the site, and the more sophisticated products were probably imported from the accomplished Syrian-Iraqi studios. Research in progress by Zekiye Uysal will shed more light upon this subject.

Several buildings in Konya also provide evidence that colored glass was set in stucco panels in a stained-glass fashion. In addition, transparent yellow, greenish-blue, and dark red glass wine goblets, glasses, and cups similar to those found at Kubadabad have been discovered at the Palace of the Alanya Iç Kale. The most important glass object to come down to us from the Seljuk era is the magnificent luster glass platter found during the excavations at Kubadabad and which is now conserved at the Konya Karatay Museum. It bears an inscription to Sultan Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev II, and was most probably an Iraqi or Syrian import.


Glass plate found at Kubadabad Palace, with an inscription bearing the name of Sultan Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev II (1237-1247). Konya Karatay Museum










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