The Imperial Kitchen
Among the kiosks, halls, reception chambers, and harem baths, I suspect that visitors today spend the least time of all in the palace kitchens—unless they have an interest in Chinese porcelain, which is displayed in there. Otherwise there’s nothing much to see, just a series of domed rooms. Outside you can count the ten pairs of massive chimneys, but there’s no smoke. It’s a pity that the building is so quiet, because it was in here, over four centuries, that one aspect of Istanbul’s imperial purpose was most vividly expressed.
World War I in Color is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
The History of the Tulip: an educational animated short video for the Tulip Museum in Amsterdam. [via]
It may be the most notorious Thanksgiving promotion of all time. It is the 40th best television episode of all time. It's available in (semi-)entirety on HULU. And the classic TV blog offers an oral history. Happy thanksgiving, and, as God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.
Perry Anderson's book length three part series on the history of India from the beginnings of its independence movement, through independence and partition into its recent history as a nation-state is the latest in a series of erudite, opinionated and wordy articles in The London Review of Books by the UCLA professor of history and sociology on the modern history of various countries, so far taking in Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, the EU, Russia, Taiwan and France. [more inside]
The German Archaeological Institute has a website detailing their excavations at Hattusa, formerly the capital of the Hittite Empire. There is a brief summary of the city's history to get you started, or a somewhat more detailed one if you're feeling keen. [more inside]
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].
Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple? "Predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years, Turkey's stunning Gobekli Tepe upends the conventional view of the rise of civilization."
Gallipoli is one of the most famous battles of World War I. Fought in on a Turkish peninsula in 1915 it was, like most Great War battles, a huge waste of life and largely fruitless. Jul Snelder's site has a wealth of information, the causes, history and aftermath of Gallipoli, the slang of the ANZAC forces, placenames in both English and Turkish, interesting little factoids, how Allied troops used subterfuge to hide their evacuation, the Turkish perspective, pictures of the battlesite today juxtaposed with old photographs, a mini-travel guide to Gallipoli and much more. One of the most famous units at Gallipoli was the Australian 12th Light Horse Regiment. To learn more about this type of unit, responsible for the "last successful great cavalry charge" two years after Gallipoli, I direct you to the excellent website of the Australian Light Horse Association, where you can learn anything you might reasonably want to know about the subject.
Labour, which had started the disasters of Cyprus by denying it any decolonisation after 1945, had now completed them, abandoning it to trucidation [by doing nothing when Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974]. London was quite prepared to yield Cyprus to Greece in 1915, in exchange for Greek entry into the war on its side. Had it done so, all subsequent suffering might have been avoided. It is enough to compare the fate of Rhodes, still closer to Turkey and with a comparable Turkish minority, which in 1945 peacefully reverted to Greece, because it was an Italian not a British colony. In the modern history of the Empire, the peculiar malignity of the British record in Cyprus stands apart.The Divisions of Cyprus, an article in The London Review of Books by historian Perry Anderson, is an excellent history of Cyprus from 1878 to the modern day as well as a polemic against the way that outside powers have treated the island. [more inside]
The Rålamb Costume Book. Illustrations of Turkish officials, various important occupations and just plain folks, obtained by Claes Rålamb, Swedish ambassador to the Ottoman Court, in 1657. More about Rålamb and Sultan Mehmet IV.
Soup has a history. Enjoy this comprehensive history of the humble (and sometimes not so humble) dish. A widely stated "fun fact" is that the earliest soup was made with hippopotamus bones, but fortunately today you have much tastier options. One favorite, chicken soup, is easy to make and really is good for you [pdf] .
Armenian Genocide Plagues Ankara 90 Years On This weekend, Armenians commemorated the 90th anniversary of the genocide of 1915. But Turkey has yet to recognize the crime -- the first genocide of the 20th century. By refusing to use the word "genocide," Turkey could complicate its efforts to join the European Union.
Old Istanbul Postcards. If you have any fondness for old city views, this is irresistible. Here's a look at the Old City of Istanbul a hundred years ago (Hagia Sophia is just left of center), and here's the gate of the Ottoman War Ministry, now Istanbul University (map). There's lots more where those came from. (Via Desultory Turgescence.)
Armenian Holocaust - This was discussed earlier this year. I ran across this very well done flash site and was amazed at how presentation can affect one's views on a subject. Although aware of the story, it seems more real presented this way.