The Seljuk Han of Anatolia
HAN NEAR NIKSAR
Niksar, former capital of the Danishment Dynasty, was an important crossroads for traffic between the Black Sea, Iran and the port of Ayas on the Mediterranean.
Eravşar, 2017. p. 180; photo I. Dıvarcı
The Han near Niksar is located 5km southeast of the city on the Niksar-Erzurum road. The han is surrounded by modern buildings and gardens, and the Niksar Prison is situated to the west of it. An asphalt road passes south of the han and connects to the main highway.
The real name of the han is not known. It was discovered during research work carried out in the context of the TUBITAK Project number 109K369. The name of “The Han near Niksar” was given to it due to its location.
No inscription has been found among the ruins. However, an inscription brought from a neighboring han can be seen in the Niksar Melikgazi Tomb, and it is believed that it belongs to the Niksar han. The inscription of six lines was seen and read by P. Wittek and I. Uzuncarsili, and was published by Erdman.
The inscription reads as follows:
This sacred han was ordered to be built
In the days of Respectable Sultan.
Ebu 1-Feth Keykubadin Keyhüsrev
By the chief of believers to his obedient commander
The poor Kasim Ahmed ibn Abdullah
With God’s mercy, in the year six hundred and twenty one (H. 621)
The inscription, thought to belong to this han, states that it was built during the time of Alaeddin Keykubad I (r. 1220-1237) by Ebu’l Kasim Ahmet in H.621 (A.D. 1224-25.)
The patron Ebu’l Kasim Ahmet is not a known historical figure. Crane has analyzed the name and states that Ebu’l Kasim Ahmet was probably raised as a “gulam” (conscripted slave soldier) or converted to Islam later in life.
The Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad I developed this Tokat region during his reign, when he wished to develop trade to the Black sea ports. Niksar was located at an important crossroads between Tabriz in Iran and the port of Ayas on the Mediterranean, and, as such, the commercial activity between the Black Sea port of Trabzon and Ayas experienced a rapid development. It is known that Mahperi Hatun, the wife of Alaeddin Keykubad, undertook building activity as well in this region.
Covered open courtyard (COC)
The han is oriented north-southeast. The northern side is in ruins.
The entrance door and other elements, thought to be located in the middle of the north side, were probably demolished when the modern road was widened. Although the building elements are damaged for the most part and the interior is overgrown with trees, it is possible to approximate the plan of the han. The building comprises a covered section and a courtyard of about the same dimensions.
The facilities in the courtyard were damaged and are now buried below ground. It is not feasible to determine the layout of the courtyard and its elements from the remaining ruins.
The width of the covered section indicates that it must have comprised three naves. According to the vault traces above the outer bearing walls, it can be determined that the middle vault was higher and wider than the side vaults, which were situated parallel to the middle nave. The remains of the vaults above the east and west walls provide insight into the number of vaults and their features.
Traces of the circular support towers, which were spaced irregularly on the outside walls, are still visible. Pitch-faced stone was used in the construction of this building.
CURRENT CONDITION AND CLASSIFICATION
The building is, for the most part, in ruins. The roof has collapsed, although a few traces remain. The roadwork carried out to widen the modern highway was probably responsible for the destruction of the entrance, which is believed to have been located to the north. Mature trees and a wooden cottage now occupy the area which was once the covered section.
Crane, H.G. “Notes on Saldjuq Architectural Patronage in Thirteenth-Century Anatolia”, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 36 (I) (1992), p. 26.
Eravşar, O. & Yavuz, A.T. “Ortacağ’da Küzey Anadou Yollari ve Yolüst Kuruluslari”. Konya: TUBITAK 109K369, 2010, fig. Add. 2 (Cat. 4), p. 7.
Eravşar, Osman. Yollarin Taniklari (Witnesses of the Way), 2017, pp. 180-183.
Erdmann, Kurt. Das Anatolische Karavansaray des 13. Jahrhunderts, 1961. Vol. 1, p. 197.
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