A group of glazed pottery from dockyards and Red Tower area in Alanya

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Bilici S.

ADALYA, vol.8, pp.329-349, 2005 (AHCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 8
  • Publication Date: 2005
  • Journal Name: ADALYA
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), International Bibliography of Art
  • Page Numbers: pp.329-349
  • Gazi University Affiliated: Yes


A Group Glazed Pottery from Dockyards and red Tower Area in Alanya

A lively port until the 19th century, Alanya lived her "Golden Age" between 1221 and 1293 under Anatolian Seljuk rule, when the dockyards on the coast and the winter palace in the citadel were also built. Archaeological excavations in the citadel have been undertaken by M. Oluş Arık uninterruptedly since 1985.

The present study examines a group of fragments of glazed pottery that were discovered during the cleaning of the ditch between the dockyards, the Red Tower and the curtain wall in 2001. 32 fragments in a good state of preservation - mostly belonging to imported wares - provide us with information concerning the commercial life and the history of the town from the 13th through to the 15th century.

In these cleaning digs, very few examples of Seljuk pottery were uncovered. The body of these Seljuk fragments are characterized by a grayish white color, of a sandy and loose texture, similar in texture to Seljuk tile paste. Decorated in underglaze or with a monochrome glaze, these fragments carry decoration that is similar in style to the decoration on Raqqa pottery from Syria. Based on the archaeological evidence, these fragments can be dated to the 13th century and can be described as a local production.

The majority of the finds can be dated to the 14th century. Consisting entirely of imported wares, this 14th century pottery presents us with a picture of the changing socio-economic structure of the town. The celadon fragments that can be dated to the first half of the 14th century were produced at Longquan, an important pottery production center in southern China, and probably reached the Anatolian coast through the maritime routes linking the Mediterranean, through the Indian Ocean to the ports of Southern China. Strikingly parallel to these celadon fragments are examples to be seen in the Topkapi Palace Museum collection.

These finds also point to the imports of painted sgraffito Cypriot wares from the mid 14th century. These Cypriot wares are noteworthy for their fine quality paste, their curious forms and decorations. They must have reached Alanya as a result of the political and military dominion of the Lusignan Kingdom of Cyprus over the southern Anatolian coast. These Cypriot ceramics were also uncovered in the Seljuk Palace in the Alanya Citadel and during the 2000 campaign in the dockyards at Alanya; however, as they have been found in quantity at Anamur and in many Crusader sites in the eastern Mediterranean and Egypt, these fragments suggest the Cypriot role in the trade across the Mediterranean and to short-term Cypriot rule along the Anatolian coast.

As was recorded during the visit to Alanya by the renowned traveler Ibn Battuta, Alanya was prosperous due to trade in the 14th century and this prosperity also extended into the 15th century. For example, Boucicaut, who visited Alanya in 1403, witnessed the wealth of the markets and the abundance of the merchandise. The most significant ceramic development in 15th century Alanya was the introduction of Iznik pottery on to the Alanya market. Iznik ware with its high quality and distinctive repertory of decoration show us that the interior trade began at Alanya in the 15th century.