The Seljuk Han of Anatolia
Classification by plan type
Although each han differs in its layout, they all belong to one of 4 major plan types:
1. HANS WITH A COVERED SECTION ONLY: THE COVERED PLAN (C)
This plan type consists of a closed, covered section (the winter section) with no courtyard in front of it. This is the most basic type of han plan, and this type of han was used primarily in winter and they are generally modest in size. In this plan, a courtyard may have been planned to be built in a second stage, and was never completed, or the courtyard was never built due to the restrictions of the topography. It must be stressed that recent excavations and studies indicate that the covered section was always built first.
These hans can be classed by the number of naves, or aisles, inside of them and to their arrangement. They were denoted as single, double or triple naved hans, or, rarely as a han with a transept plan (The Oresin Han has side aisles as well, if it is assumed that there was no courtyard to this han, still under debate). Generally, hans with this plan usually have 3 aisles (naves) running parallel to the rear wall. For hans with more than one vault, the roof is supported by square piers. The entrance to some of the covered hans is from the narrow side, or, in others, from the long middle side.
2. HANS WITH A COVERED SECTION AND AN OPEN COURTYARD WITH SERVICE AREAS: THE COVERED SECTION WITH COURTYARD PLAN (COC)
Hans of this plan type consist of two parts: an open courtyard and a covered section behind it. This is the most frequent type of hans and is often referred to as the "classical scheme" of Anatolian hans. The covered section is sometimes referred to as the shelter section, and in Turkish is known as the kişlik, or "winter section". The term courtyard is used to signify a central, open courtyard surrounded by service areas.
There are two basic configurations of this classical covered section and courtyard group: 1) the covered section and the courtyard can be the same width (with 1-3 naves; in this configuration, the long, lateral wall of the covered section continues to form the courtyard wall, and there is no lantern dome) or 2) hans where the courtyard is wider and usually longer than the covered section.
For the majority of hans, the covered section is narrower than the courtyard. The covered section has a varying number of vaults, lying parallel or perpendicular to the entry door and back wall. The covered sections can have 3-5 naves, oriented longitudinally between the entrance and the rear wall. The vaults covering the naves are sometimes parallel to the naves and sometimes perpendicular to them. The vaults are carried by square piers. The pier lines either connect to each other by arches perpendicular to the middle nave or run towards the rear wall. The number of perpendicular vaults depends on the size of the han. The placement of a dome lantern in the middle nave is an application sometimes seen in the larger hans with five naves.
The courtyard was designed as an area for services, such as storage, the mosque, kitchens, baths and fountains. Arcades can be located on one or both sides of the courtyard. Generally, the arcade is located on one side only, with a vaulting system supported by piers, and can have one or two rows of cells. The arcades in the courtyard are covered with vaults carried by square piers in one or two lines. Certain hans have iwans facing the courtyard. There can be 1 to 4 iwans in the courtyard. Some iwans were planned as a fountain iwan, while others were designed as special guest rooms. The mosque can be placed in the middle of the courtyard, or, in other hans, it can be located either next to the entrance, in one of the rooms on the both sides of the entrance, or on an upper level. The middle of the courtyard can also include a small cubed mosque ("kiosk mescit" in Turkish), raised up on 4 piers.
The main entry to the han is often comprised of an elaborate stalactite portal with an entry vestibule section. The entrances of both sections are generally in the same direction and from middle of the wide side.
Covered section the same width as courtyard with parallel naves:
Covered section smaller than the courtyard with aisles running to the rear wall:
Sahip Ata Işakli
Covered section with side naves (2 to 9) perpendicular to the central nave:
Han Mosque Kayseri
Sultan Han Aksaray
Sultan Han Kayseri
3. HANS WITH A VAST COURTYARD SURROUNDED BY CELLS: THE OPEN COURTYARD PLAN (OC)
This type of han consists of a central open courtyard, surrounded on all four sides by open arcades and iwans leading directly into the courtyard. It is also known as the "central room configuration". Hans in this group can have a covered section or not; but what is distinctive in this group is that the presence of a vast courtyard is the dominating factor. The present author proposes this group to replace the open courtyard and the separately-planned hans proposed by Erdmann, and allows for an inclusion of the hans that do not fit into the other plan types. This plan, also known as the central room plan type, was seen in Central Asian han architecture dating to the pre-Islamic era. A multipurpose plan, it is often used in hans, palaces, medreses, and mosques in various spheres of the Islamic period; however, in Anatolia it is only used in this small group of hans, and the reason for this remains unexplained, although it is to be noted that these hans were all located in the region of Antalya, which has a hot climate in summer and a mild one in the winter. They can have one or two rows of cells surrounding the courtyard, or, in a subset (Kargi and Kirkgöz Hans), a narrow covered section was added to the rear or along the side. No mosques have been found in these hans. This type is fairly rare.
Hans with a large open courtyard surrounded by cells:
Hans with the covered section situated on one long side of the vast central courtyard:
4. HANS WITH A CONCENTRIC PLAN (CON)
The concentric plan, first proposed by A.T. Yavuz, is, in its simplest, a covered section which has a ring of rooms or iwans laid out concentrically around a central core. This is an evolved building type, and is fairly rare, with only a few examples known at the present stage of research: Alara, Sevserek, Mirçinge, Ibrahim Shah Han, Eshab-i Kehf, and Yerhan.
What is different here is that this central core is not like the courtyard of the normal Seljuk han plan. In that plan, the courtyard is a vast space with multiple service configurations around it (arcades, fountains, mosque, storerooms, etc.), arranged side by side. In the concentric plan, this central core serves as a connecting space which leads to a ring of loading platforms and accommodation rooms surrounding it. A second, outermost ring generally contains the stabling area for the animals. The ring configuration can take various forms. It can run around all four sides (Mirçinge), on one side (Eshab-i Keyf), on three sides or be double (Alara).
This plan represents a greater sophistication, and seems to have been developed in order to provide greater comfort for the traveler. These hans provide a physical separation between the animals and the travelers, with low walls, partition walls, rooms, and iwans, which show that there was a very concerted desire to provide more privacy and comfort for travelers in comparison with the other hans of the Anatolian Seljuk era. This typology separated the stables from the accommodation areas for people and made for a more comfortable experience. The concentric plan is an arrangement that favors the traveler, whereas the courtyard plan appears to favor the animals. There is more privacy and cleanliness in the concentric plan han, but the classical courtyard plan offers ease of circulation and in the end is more practical for the movement of large masses of animals and goods. Both offer the same services, just arranged differently.
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