The Seljuk Han of Anatolia
Located in a wild country canyon of the Euphrates River valley at the lip of the modern Keban Dam, this han displays an unusual deep entrance iwan.
Karpuz Anadolu Selçuklu Eserleri (2008) v.1, p. 281; photo I. Dıvarcı
Eravşar, 2017. p. 105; photo I. Dıvarcı
Eravşar, 2017. p. 102
The Denizli Makit Han is located in wild country of the canyons of the Euphrates, near the minute village of Denizli (not to be confused with the well-known town in western Turkey), roughly 50 km from Arapgir. It was built along the banks of the river which passes by the village, and is accessed by a farm road which links the village to the Keban-Ağhin highway, 8 km away. It is east of Elazağ, near Ağin on the road to Ağri, 15km northwest of Keban. It is practically on the banks of the Keban Dam. There used to be a town of some size here until recently; it is now pretty much in ruins.
It was built on a caravan route which led southeast to Harput and southwest to Malatya, which has been in use since the Roman period. The road, used mostly for transporting mining materials, was restored by the Ottoman Grand Vizier Halil Rifat Paşa (1827-1901) as part of the Trabzon-Baghdad road.
The han is called the Makit Han or the Denizli Han, in reference to the village in which it is located. The han became known at the end of the 1960s due to the Keban Dam Project. The Keban Dam Project was initiated in 1967 to record and study the history of the Keban Region in eastern Turkey about to be inundated by the waters of the dam. From 1968 to 1974, the Euphrates and Murat River valleys were the scene of intense archaeological surveys and excavations in advance of flooding. The lake formed by the dam is mostly narrow, hemmed in by deep rock valleys. Reportedly, the Keban Dam was the world's eighteenth-tallest dam at completion, creating Turkey's largest man-made reservoir and its third-largest lake until the filling of the reservoir of the Atatürk Dam. Its eight turbines supply about a quarter of the electricity consumed in Turkey. The construction of the dam and its subsequent reservoir resulted in involuntary resettlement of approximately 25,0000 people.
The dam submerged the Karamağara Bridge and the Ibrahim Shah Han, which had a portal similar to the Makit Han.
It is not certain if this han is Seljuk or not. The architectural features of the Makit Han are similar to those seen in a typical 14th century han. It shares many common features with the Karacabey Issiz, the Hanönü, and the Kurttepe Hans. The construction of hans comprising a covered section only began at the beginning of the 14th century, so it is believed that this han probably dated from this time. The shape of the crown door suggests a construction date towards the end of the 13th century.
Özergin makes reference to a damaged and illegible inscription, but this inscription no longer exists. It has been reported by villagers that the inscription was still in place in 1930.
Covered open courtyard (COC)
It is not certain if this han was built with a courtyard, but in all probability it was designed with one.
It is not certain if this han had a courtyard. Like the Ibrahim Shah Han now under the Keban Dam waters, it may have had a large cell-lined court.
The building is oriented north-south. It belongs to the group of hans with a single section, divided into three naves and covered with pointed vaults. The central nave is higher and wider than the lateral naves. Six pointed arches sit on five piers in each of the column lines of the covered section. These arches of the east and west column lines continue towards the rear wall. The doorways to the lateral rooms flanking the entrance iwan were originally framed with a border of geometric elements on the sides and top, but they have eroded over time.
An arch extending from the third pier in the middle of the central nave supports both the vaults of the lateral naves and the central nave. Two additional arches, one in the first and the other in the fifth pier line of the central nave, reinforce the vault of the central nave.
The interior of the covered section was lit by square window openings at the top of the vaults. There are no window slits on the side walls, but an arched gap is located directly opposite the entrance.
The crown door of this han is massive and is so deep that it resembles a barrel vault. It projects slightly from the bearing wall.
The entrance was designed with an iwan configuration, including two separate rooms, independent from each other, on each side of the iwan. The rooms are of the same size. The southeast room may have served as the mosque as it contains a mihrab in the quibla direction. A niche is situated on the east wall of the room to the east which is covered with a pointed vault. The doors to the rooms include a flat lintel and a square door frame, with geometric braids connected to central polygons on the sides. The Iğdir Ejder Han has a similar configuration of the rooms at the entrance. One of the rooms in the entrance could have served as a mosque.
The walls of this han are quite thick and made of cut stones, laid with attention. The stones of the lower courses of the wall are larger in size compared to the majority of the stones used in Seljuk buildings.
The han does not display any decoration other than the carved capitals which can be seen crown door, over the doors of the rooms on both sides of the entrance, and in the central nave over the piers that connect the arches supporting the vault.
STATE OF CONSERVATION, CURRENT USE
The han is in good condition and may be visited. The covered section survives in a partially-deteriorated condition. It is used as a store for hay, wood and farm machines.
Eravşar, Osman. Yollarin Taniklari (Witnesses of the Way), 2017, pp. 102-105.
Karpuz, Haşim, Kuş, A., Dıvarcı, I. and Şimşek, F. Anadolu Selçuklu Eserleri, 2008, v.1, p. 281.
Özergin, M. Kemal. Anadoluda Selçuklu Kervansarayları, Tarih Dergisi, XV/20, 1965, p. 157, n. 83.
Sinclair, T.A. Eastern Turkey: An Architectural and Archeological Survey, volume III. London, 1989, pp. 52-55.
Tuncer, Orhan Cezmi. Anadolu Kervan Yollari. Ankara, 2017, pp. 98-99, 102.
Ünal, Rahmi Hüseyin. Iğdir Yakinlarinda bir Selçuklu Kervansarayi ve Doğubeyazit-Batum Kervan Yolu Hakkinda Notlar. Sanat Tarihi Yilliği, I.U. Edibiyat Fakultesi Sanat Tarihi Enstitüsü Yayini, 1970. Vol. III, pp. 7-15.
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