Saturday, 15 December 2012

Turkish Recycling

As I mentioned in an earlier post I have just been in Ankara, which I was visiting on business (it’s not really a tourist trap).  Ankara is a sprawling city with evidently lax planning controls and was a provincial backwater until Mustapha Kemal Atatürk came to power in the 1920s in the process winning the war of independence (1919-1923).  This was a varied conflict pitting the nascent Turkish Republic against the occupying Greeks, French, Italians, British and Armenians who had carved up the Ottoman Empire and Turkey itself after the end of the Great War.  It’s not a conflict I’ve ever seen wargamed (possibly because of such incidents as the Smyrna/Izmir Catastrophe/Massacre). 
Smoggy view of Ankara from the Citadel - nothing to stop you falling off!
Anyway, Ankara has been settled since Hittite times (actually before that, by the Hatti - which always reminds me of Carry on Matron, etc.) and the Hittite capital of Hattusha is not that far away.   The subsequent occupants and rulers read a bit like a name check through the DBA army lists comprising Phrygians, Lydians, Persians, Alexander the Great, Antigonus, Galatians, Romans, Goths, Arabs, Byzantines, Seljuks and Ottomans.  The city has grown massively since the 1920s and what remains of the old town is clustered around the remains of a fortress, known as the Citadel, at the top of the highest hill in the city.
Ankara Old Town - being restored or demolished, it's not entirely clear.
The origins of the current Ankara citadel are ancient but what remains is the work of the Seljuks and the Ottomans.  It is quite run down now and the HSE would have a fit if it saw the massive drops all around and nothing to stop you falling off.  Still, I survived.

Part of the Citadel with the Minaret of the Alaaddin Mosque (built in 1178)
What I did find of interest was how stones evidently sourced from previous buildings had been incorporated into the defences and how this affected the appearance of the structures.  What was clear was that generally the lower parts of the walls were of larger and older stones whereas the upper sections were made of brick.
What was particularly interesting to me was to try and make out where the stones had come from and it was obvious that the Turks had re-used stones from a variety of sources including previous Roman and Byzantine buildings.
What did the Romans ever do for us (and the Turks?)
You can see in this picture a row of matching stones from what looks like a Roman building and they have been arranged to make a more or less straight line.  Many of the stones obviously came from important buildings and you can still see the inscriptions on them, although it appears that whoever built the wall couldn't understand any more Latin than I can, as many of the stones are the wrong way up.
Upside down Roman inscription with later Christrian symbol (carved the right way up).
Some of the stones actually have quite detailed inscriptions on them, such as these in Greek and therefore presumably from the Byzantine period.
Greek inscriptions in Citadel wall.
Overall, I thought that it was interesting to see how previous materials had been re-used and therefore how these affected the appearance of the walls.  Clearly this would have been common practice in this part of the world and if ever I get around to modelling Ottoman defences then I know that a uniform appearance is probably the last thing to aim for.


Ray Rousell said...

Wow! Great pics, thanks for sharing!

The Wishful Wargamer said...

Cheers Ray. Thanks for your enthusiasm!