A Response to the Issue of Dating the Aksaray Zinciriye Madrasah


ABSTRACT Although it has no inscription to identify the builder or the construction date on the Aksaray Zinciriye Madrasah, the date of 1337 has been accepted – according to ebced numerical calculations from Ayah inscription – by many historians for a structure constructed during the Karamanids’ Seigniory. Embarking by the doubt that there is no other example of a four-iwan madrasah plan scheme during the Karamanids, this work has been carried out. On the other hand, on the date which madrasah had been claimed to belong, Aksaray was under the auspices of Seigniory of Eretnids. With a view to enlighten this dating dilemma, details of the plans, architectural elements and ornamental features of the madrasah, and the age it belonged to, has been questioned by making a comparison with Seljuk and Karamanid examples. By believing that the ornamental features will act as a guide, the monumental structures in and around Aksaray were reviewed first. Upon finding that the Zinciriye Madrasah’s decorative ornamental features are quite similar to those in Kayseri Karatay Khan (1240–41), Kayseri Sahabiye Madrasah (1267), Aksaray Sultanhanı Caravanserai (1229) and especially the Aksaray Ağzıkarahan Caravanserai (Hoca Mesud Caravanserai) (1231–39), the probability that the structure belonged to the Seljuks not to the Seigniory of Karamanids increased. Starting with this premise, the similarity of the plan and architectural elements of the Zinciriye Madrasah to other madrasahs constructed in the 13th century were investigated. All the study findings support the notion that the structure was an example of the late Seljuk period.