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A Historical Archaeology of the Ottoman Empire

  • Verlag: Kluwer Academic Publishers
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A Historical Archaeology of the Ottoman Empire

Archaeology in the Middle East and the Balkans rarely focuses on the recent past, as a result, archaeologists have largely ignored the material remains of the Ottoman Empire. Drawing on a wide variety of case studies and essays, this volume documents the emerging field of Ottoman archaeology and the relationship of this new field to anthropological, classical, and historical archaeology as well as Ottoman studies.

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A Historical Archaeology of the Ottoman Empire

9 Transformations, Readings, and Visions of the Ottoman Mosque (p. 119-120)
Alison B. Snyder
INTRODUCTION
Buildings can express and capture the essence of an epoch. Cultures display their social, political, religious and artistic foundations through their built structures. Power and strength may be codified and packaged for regional consumption and in this way the religious building is imbued with layered meanings. During the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries, the Ottoman mosque underwent substantial design transformations. To investigate these, I am interested in connecting an historical and theoretical architectural perspective with archaeology. Though this study is primarily concerned with the religious building typologies developed during Ottoman times, these structures remain in the extant landscape.
The allure and mystery behind the persistent contradictions and social conflicts inherent in today?s Turkey with its enduring ancient traditions can be viewed through the ubiquitous mosque (cami). When studying some of the existing literature on Ottoman architecture, there are several who have written on specific buildings, their elements and the societal factors surrounding them. Yet, there are three to whom I will first call attention to, as they have written copiously on this broad subject as well as on the specifics.
It appears that most scholarly work dealing with the Ottoman mosque is primarily concerned with experimentation in structural technology (and then current capabilities) as the major catalyst for producing new design configurations, mentioning light and lighting as a byproduct (for example, Godfrey Goodwin?s 1971 A History of Ottoman Architecture , Dogan Kuban?s 1985 Muslim Religious Architecture: Development of Religious Architecture in Later Periods and a 1997 paper in Muqarnas, and Aptullah Kuran?s 1986 Sinan: The Grand Old Master of Ottoman Architecture ).
To date, there has been no formal analysis that traces mosque design transformation during the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries in Turkey especially with regard to light. Giving credence to the concept of looking at how light is handled with respect to the design of ancient structures, one might consider the best of current architecture. Twentieth-century architects around the world have worked with and have been inspired by designing with light in their religious (and secular) buildings.
Perhaps the most wellknown are Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto, and Aero Saarinen, as well as, current architecture such as Tadao Ando?s or Steven Holl?s chapels, and Louis Kahn?s or Pietro Belluschi?s synagogues. (Others such as Jean Nouvel, Norman Foster, and Ricardo Legorreta consistently use light to inspire their secular designs.)
The essence of light has and continues to be explored literally and metaphorically by many authors, philosophers, scientists and lighting designers. By focusing on the influence and perception of light with regard to the designing of architecture, and here, specifically the mosque, a richer understanding and more comprehensive view will be gained. Look into these buildings in a way that you may not have before to see that both natural and manmade (or manufactured) light may be considered the protagonists of mosque design.

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