Scholars 2004

2004 Past - Cities, Historical Legacy

Cagaptay-Arikan Suna

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, School of Architecture 

"Visualizing the Cultural Transition in Bithynia: Byzantine-Ottoman 'Overlap Architecture'"

December 2005 

This project examines the fascinating range of architectural activity in Bithynia over the course of the fourteenth century.

In specific terms, I look at the architecture of fourteenth-century Bithynia (northwestern Asia Minor) in order to evaluate how Ottoman builders reused the existing Byzantine architectural monuments, forms, construction techniques and decorative details and describe the character and context of the resulting hybrid forms. The period itself represents a transition in rule, which led scholars to view Byzantine and Ottoman as separate cultures, and their architecture as belonging to distinct traditions. Material culture in Bithynia, however, does not obey the divisions imposed by political history; in fact, there are such striking similarities in the two architectures of this region that they should be viewed together. I contend that architecture can serve as an indicator of ethnic identity and cultural exchange with regard to the political changes in Bithynia. In doing so, I demonstrate a multi-disciplinary approach using sociological and cultural studies and methodologies and display how architecture plays in a determinant fashion upon human activity and becomes a template of social and cultural identity.