The Seljuk Han of Anatolia
NURHAK ZILLI HAN
photo by Ibrahim Divarci; used by permission
The Nurhak-Zilli Han is located on the Elbistan-Nurhak road (37 59'47.82 / 37.19'59.01), about 5 km east of Nurhak, in the Kiyalar neighborhood, and is built at the foot of the Castle.
Kahramanmaraş was an important town of the Anatolian Seljuks, due to its geographical position and location at a very strategic point of Anatolia. This han is located near a mountain pass. Researchers believe that there were many architectural works built by the Seljuks here, but all have been destroyed. However, there are several hans which remain, including this one, the Kuru, Coğul, Kurttepe, Sevdilli, Çevirme, Kamereddin and Hanobaşi hans.
The Kayseri-Elbistan-Aleppo Route was an important route in the Seljuk era. From the Sivas and Kayseri connection, routes led south to the Mesopotamian region through Malatya and Elbistan, which was the road taken by the Mamluk Baybars when he invaded Anatolia in 1256. The first destination after exiting Kayseri was the Ispile Han, of which only a few ruined sections remain. The next station was the Karatay Han. The road generally followed the river beds and passed through rugged terrain before arriving at the Yabanlu Bazaar, the trade fair market forum since the days of the Assyrian trade colonies Period. The road continued on, passing by the Kuru Han 2, the Çoğul and the Afşin Hans. The next station was the Kuru Han. The road continued towards the Hurman Castle from here. The next station on the road heading towards Elbistan was the Kuru Han 2. There was also a mountain pass (derbent) located near this han. The road arrived at the Çoğul Han, and bifurcated. One branch led to Elbistan and the other to Afşin. Elbistan was a frontier town which served as a gateway to the region. Because of its key location, the Seljuks had taken certain precautions to both protect the city and to control access to it. One of these measures was the construction of a mountain pass (derbent) in the settlement formerly known as Akça Derbent. The next station was the Zilli Han. The road then split towards the east, connected to Malatya through Nurhak and then the road split again towards the south to arrive at Aleppo via Gaziantep.
The han is believed to have been built at the same time as the other Seljuk hans in this area: Kurttepe, Coğul, Kuru and Eshab-i Keyf.
Baybars, the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt, invaded Seljuk Anatolia in 1277 on his mission to defeat the Mongols. He defeated them at the Battle of Elbistan, captured the city of Kayseri, but withdrew to Syria. He stayed here and at the Akça Derbent han before withdrawing to Acre.
Covered section with an open courtyard (COC)
Only a few foundation walls remain standing. The han is oriented east west.
The han is built using rough-cut stones and rubble. The thickness of the walls is 1.30m. It is believed that the covered section had three naves and had 3 service rooms at the entrance, much like the Kurttepe Han, and was covered by barrel vaults. There were two triangular buttresses on the south side of the covered section
15.50 X 50M
STATE OF CONSERVATION, CURRENT USE
After this road fell out of use, the han was left deserted and fell into ruins. A large section of the was solid until the 1950s, but the villagers began to remove its stones to use in building their homes. Only parts of the foundations walls can be seen.
Bilici, Z. Kenan. Anadolu Selçuklu Çaği Mirası. Mimarı = Heritage of Anatolian Seljuk Era. Architecture. 3 vols. Ankara: Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Cumhurbaşkanlığı: Selçuklu Belediyesi, 2016, vol. 2, p. 108.
Özergin, M. Kemal. Anadoluda Selçuklu Kervansarayları, Tarih Dergisi, XV/20, 1965, p. 164, p. 131.
Özkarcı, Mehmet. Kahramanmaraşta Selçuklu Mimarisine Bakiş, Uluslararasi Selçuklu Döneminde Maraş Sempozunu, 17-19 November, 2016, pp. 14-53.
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