The Seljuk Han of Anatolia
Not much remains of this han, located in a picturesque village in the hills of the Tokat region, and which is believed to have been one of the seven hans built by Mahperi Hatun in this area.
Eravşar, 2017. p. 272; photo I. Dıvarcı
Eravşar, 2017. p. 276; photo I. Dıvarcı
plan drawn by Erdmann
The Tahtoba Han is located on the Sivas-Tokat Road, 3 km north of Artova and 17 miles south of Tokat, in the village of Tahtoba. It is located on the Tokat-Sivas caravan route, which has been in in use for a long time. The road coming from the direction of Pazar to Tokat unites here with the road coming from Tokat and continues towards Sivas.
The han is named after the village in which it is located. The name of the village is a combination of two words: taht, which means crown or throne and oba, which means a settlement in a mountainous place or a highland. Indeed, the setting perched on the green Tokat hills is a throne of nature in its finest.
The Jesuit priest and archeologist Père Jerphanion is the only one to have provided information about the han. He marked the village as an Armenian settlement on his famous series of four maps drawn of the region.
PATRON AND CONSTRUCTION DATE
There is no inscription on or around the building. The dating of the han has generally been related to the notion that the Seljuk hans in this region were built by Mahperi Hunat Hatun, wife of Alaeddin Keykubad I and mother of Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev II. There is no proof to this theory that she built several hans in this area, but based on the only han with an inscription, the Pazar Hatun Han, which was considered built between 1238 and 1246, it is highly likely that she was the patron of this group of hans. The han most similar to this one, in regard to its plan and size, is the Pazar Hatun Han, again an argument for her patronage.
Covered section with an open courtyard (COC)
Covered section smaller than courtyard
Covered section with 3 naves (a central aisle and 2 aisles on each side running perpendicular to the back wall)
The entrance of the han faces east. It is classed among the group of hans with a building plan comprising a covered section and an open courtyard with service areas.
The han is in ruins, but an analysis of the remaining solid wall segments of the covered section can give a good idea of the plan of the han.
The courtyard is in better condition than the covered section. The entrance crown door, the rooms on both sides of it, the greater part of the north wall, the central section of the south wall, as well as the west wall of the covered section, are still standing.
The crown door protrudes from the front wall and has a pointed arch. The section after the entrance in the direction of the courtyard is shaped like an iwan and is covered with a pointed vault. There is a room on each side of this iwan, covered with pointed vaults in the north-south direction. The entrances to these rooms are from the west side of the courtyard.
The covered section was divided into three naves with two support lines. There are four square piers in each support bearing lines of pointed arch line continuing in the east-west direction towards the rear wall. Traces on the rear wall indicated that the covered section was also covered with pointed vaults in the east-west direction. These traces also indicate that the middle nave was higher and wider than the side naves.
Support towers can also be seen in the corners of the west section of the han.
Support towers are located in the corners of the courtyard and in the middle of the north-south wall. In view of the large size of the courtyard, there were probably arcades on one or several sides.
A nearby quarry, located in the hills south of the han, probably provided the porous volcanic tufa stones used in the construction of this han. The remaining pieces of the exterior walls indicate that they were built using the rubble wall technique, where two smooth-cut layers of stone were filled with a mixture of rubble and mortar.
Total area of 1375 m2.
STATE OF CONSERVATION, CURRENT USAGE
Some of the walls of the courtyard and hall remain standing, but it is in a very ruined state today. The north and south walls of the covered section are collapsed for the most part. The east and west walls are somewhat more solid and provide information about the roofing system. The outer stones of the walls have been removed gradually over the years by villagers, in the same fashion that the stones of Roman Sulusaray were removed to build the houses of the town. A small amount of this stone material remains today.
Tahtoba makes a lovely lunch spot to enjoy a fresh grilled trout caught in the streams flowing above the han at the local picnic restaurant Südökülen Alabalik. Afterwards, a visit to the Roman site of Sebastopolis (Sulusaray) makes for an enjoyable day full of history in the green hills of the Tokat countryside.
Acun, H. Anadolu Selçuklu Dönemi Kervansarayları. Ankara: Kültür Bakanlığı Publications, 2007, p. 527.
Eravşar, Osman. Yollarin Taniklari (Witnesses of the Way), 2017, pp. 272-276.
Eravşar, O. & Yavuz, A.T. & Toprak, G.M. Ortacağda Küzey Anadolu Yollari ve Yol Üstü Kurluşlari. 109K369 Tubitak Projesi Sonuç Raporu, ULAKBIM, 2013.
Erdmann, Kurt. Das Anatolische Karavansaray des 13. Jahrhunderts, 1961, pp. 57-8 no. 14.
Gabriel, A. Monuments turcs d'Anatolie, I, II. 1931, 1934, p. 112.
Jerphanion, G. de. Mélanges dArchéologie anatolienne. Mélanges de lUniversité Saint-Joseph, tome 13. Beirut, 1928, p. 61.
Karpuz, Karpuz, Haşim. & Kuş, A. & Dıvarcı, I. & Şimşek, F. Anadolu Selçuklu Eserleri, 2008, v.2, p. 422.
Photo by Erdmann (no. 70)
Photo by Erdmann (no. 67)
Photo by Erdmann (no. 68)
Photo by Erdmann (no. 69)
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