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The Caravanserai of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm
January 8, 2010 4:04 AM   Subscribe

The Seljuk Han in Anatolia has tons of information about and pictures of the caravanserai, inns for caravans, built by the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm in what is now Turkey. The Seljuk caravanserai, called hans, were a vital resource for trade from the middle ages to recent times. The website, by Katherine Branning, explains what a han is, their origins, their function in trade, what life there was like and much more. The site also features 39 individual hans, such as the Kadin Han, now a furniture store, Dibi Delik Han, which is undergoing restoration, Zazadin Han, which has been restored already, and the spectacular Sultan Han Kayseri. For an academic survey of Seljuk hans, here's Ayşıl Tükel Yavuz' The concepts that shape Anatolian Seljuq caravanserais [pdf, automatic download].
posted by Kattullus (13 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
The article in last link is somewhat dry but packed with information.
posted by Kattullus at 4:04 AM on January 8, 2010


That last link does not work for me, but the rest of the information is absolutely fascinating.
posted by francesca too at 4:25 AM on January 8, 2010


Huh, so it doesn't when I click it... well, if you copy the link and paste it into the navigation bar it downloads for me, so that may be a workaround that works for you.
posted by Kattullus at 4:28 AM on January 8, 2010


Interesting that there is so much detail yet nothing about how the han was adopted from the Persian khan or caravansara meaning "caravan palace" in Persian (as opposed to Turkish as indicated) or how they had been built and used as vital resources connecting Beijing to Lisbon for centuries before the Turks left Siberia. Hell, the camel has been domesticated for over 6000 years so the basic concept of a set structure to stop at to feed, rest, and water your camels has to have been around for millenia before the Persians came down out of the Caucasus and started bugging the Assyrians, but is there anything about that in here? No sir, its as if the whole idea miraculously sprang forth fully formed from Tugrul's rib or something.

Not that there is anything wrong with recognising their beauty and historical significance in the Seljuk era, nor that there is anything wrong with this nice post leading us to some interesting material and photos, I'm just sayin' is all...

Incidentally, they are the inspiration for the modern shopping mall.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:51 AM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, they are the inspiration for the modern shopping mall.

Here I thought the Arcade in Providence was the inspiration for the modern shopping mall. In retrospect, though, you would never get camels up those stairs.

At any rate, the Gostiny Dvor in St. Petersburg makes a somewhat more credible claim, although whether "mall" or "department store" is more appropriate in this case can be debated.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:53 AM on January 8, 2010


Yeah, GenjiandProust those are nice examples of shopping centers inspired by the ancient design of caravanserai as I was saying. Take this, change the gormet food shops to shops trading salt, spices, charcoal, cloth, dried fish, etc. and throw in some camels resting on the ground floor down where the chef is, throw it all back 500 years or so and plop it in the desert, and you've got this.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:35 AM on January 8, 2010


Keep going back further, ditch the camels but add some loitering loudmouths, and you're pretty much got a stoa. I have no idea what it specifically is, but I'm sure there's some earlier model the Greeks were basing that on, too. Commercial architecture hasn't really changed all that much since it was invented.
posted by Copronymus at 8:59 AM on January 8, 2010


Keep going back further, ditch the camels but add some loitering loudmouths, and you're pretty much got a stoa.

I'm pretty sure stoae and agorae would have been contemporary with the ancient Persian caravanserai and bazaars, no?

Besides, wouldn't a colonnade be more like the model of a strip mall?
posted by Pollomacho at 9:24 AM on January 8, 2010


Considering that the site gives the Seljuks a start date of mid-to-late 11th C AD, these han can't be reasonably be the inspiration for malls, being too late or too early. Even the Persian precedents would be considerably younger than the similar markets of Egypt and the Fertile Crescent, which would be the very first malls. In the other direction, Wikipedia gives a number of claimants in the early modern period that seem more like direct ancestors of the modern mall that the han -- for one thing, you can trace a fairly clear line of development between them. To me, the han seem more like the ancestors of the modern American truck stop, although with a much wider range of merchandise for sale and (probably) cleaner restrooms. (I am not being derogatory -- on long-distance trips, those truck stops are gold.)
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:32 PM on January 8, 2010


Even the Persian precedents would be considerably younger than the similar markets of Egypt and the Fertile Crescent, which would be the very first malls.

So what you are saying then is they would have pretty much "been around for millenia before the Persians came down out of the Caucasus and started bugging the Assyrians".

I had a long and rambling follow up to this with links, observations, and pictures, but I'll just leave it at that.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:29 PM on January 8, 2010


Ah, yes. Well, millennia would do it. although I will still hold out for truck stops.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:09 PM on January 8, 2010


Cool post. I've been to this one.
posted by booth at 8:41 PM on January 8, 2010


Obligatory Santana reference here.
posted by ovvl at 4:20 PM on January 9, 2010


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