A.G├╝l├žin K├ť├ç├ťKKAYA
A.G├╝l├žin  K├ť├ç├ťKKAYA
Origin of Turkish Architecture Turkish Pointed Arches (T├╝rk Mimarisinin K├Âkenleri ve T├╝rk Sivri Kemeri)
  • 12 Aral─▒k 2021 Pazar
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  • A.G├╝l├žin K├ť├ç├ťKKAYA /

Toplam: 976 , Bug├╝n: 4 Okuma


“Turk” name refers to ethnic groups that speak languages belonging to the Turkish language family or the people originate from the Oghuz family from Central Asia and spread to Europe and Asia. It is accepted that Turks in Turkey and East of Europe migrated originally from Central Asia. Inheriting earlier arch forms from the Greeks and the Romans in Anatolia, Turks brought the variety of new shapes of pointed arches from Central Asia. The pointed arches soon spread to all Turkish cultures progressively becoming a universal Turkish architectural identity.

The Turks mastered the use and unique design of the pointed arches more than any other civilization.┬á The Turks’ knowledge of geometry and laws of statics must also have played a leading role in their choices of various types of pointed arches. The object of this study is to offer an examination of the architectural decorative Turkish pointed arches in Turkey and compare them with the Turkish arches of Central Asia. We are of the opinion that when we look the origins of Turkish Architecture in Anatolia we see that Turkish Pointed arches have all the characteristics of arches of pre-Anatolian Turkish Architecture and that this has come about knowingly, willingly and by determined action. This article explores to the characteristics and proportions of Turkish pointed arches in compare.


The arch was an essential element of the architecture of early civilisations. The Egyptians and the Greeks used lintes, but the Romans and later the Byzantines adopted the semi-circular arch. No culture mastered in the design and use of the pointed arch more than the Turks before Gotik Period in 10th Century. Inheriting earlier arch forms from the Greeks and the Romans in Anatolia, Turks brought the variety of new shapes of pointed arches from Central Asia. The pointed arches soon spread to all Turkish cultures progressively becoming a universal Turkish architectural identity.

Pre-Anatolian Turks & The origin of Turkish Architecture in Turkey

“Turk” name refers to an ethnic groups that speak languages belonging to the Turkish language family or the people, originate from the Oghuz family from Central Asia and spread to Europe and Asia. It is accepted that Turks in East of Europe and Turkey migrated originally from Central Asia but the exact lands have been controversial (Tekin, 1991). According to historical knowledge about Turkish migrations, Turkish Huns went from Orhun Region to steppes in South Kazakhstan, to Turkistan and Europe and later to Iran and Asian Minor over the river Maverau, Avar Turks to Middle Europe, Bulgarians to beaches of Volga over the Black sea and Uygurs to the interiors of Asia over Orhun river. Again according to Chinese sources, in 500 A.D the Gokturks and later Karahans (840-1212 A.D.) were the first Turkish Governments formed in Turkmenistan. Karahans as the first Moslem Turkish Government together with Gaznes in Afghanistan and the Great Selchuks (1037-1308) reigning from Turkmenistan to the Mediterranean are seen as the forefathers of Turks in Turkey. These crusading Turkish Tribes formed the Anatolian Selchuk State in Asia Minor and as from 1277 A.D by the setting up of regional provinces Turkish Art began to take roots in this region. One of these provinces, the Osman Ogullar─▒ (OsmanÔÇÖs Sons) Province of 1299 A.D. developed into the Ottoman Empire and created the most magnificent monuments in Asia, Europe and North Africa in 16th┬áand 17th┬áCenturies (Aslanapa, 1984). After the 18th Century, Ottoman Empire began to lose land until it gave way to the last formation of the Turkish Republic in 1923.

Today there is a school[1]   of thought about the origins of Turkish Art in Turkey that, Turks developed their art in connection with Central Asian Art. They showed great sensitivity about maintaining Turkish Art of Central Asia by bringing in masters and specialists from Central Asia and Ottoman Classical Art is greatly influenced by Central Asia Turkish Art (Cezar, 1977). As a result of this over sensitiveness, Turkish architectural elements such as arches of windows and doors or bridges arches have special character that can be distinguished clearly in superpose periods additions belong to different cultures, especially Byzantine architectural elements.

Arches in Architecture

The arch is a carrier architectural element that transfers the load in two directions from top to bottom. Arches on  the wall or on openings such as doors, windows, are often in the form of an arch that can be semicircular, flat, pointed or sliced. In general, the arch forms, which vary according to the region, the period, the type of building and the cultures, play a fundamental role in gaining the identity of an architectural styles (Fig.1).

The first Muslim adaptation and modification of the design of the arch was the invention of the horseshoe arch. This was first employed in the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus (706-715) (Briggs, 1924). (Fig.1)

Pointed Archs

Rivoira (1914) believed that the pointed arch first occurred in India, carved out of some solid blocks in some 7th-century temples concurring with Havell (1913) who related the pointed arch to the niches of early Buddhist temples. They pointed out that Indian artists are known to have worked for Harun al-Rashid in Baghdad and Indian merchandise was sent to Egypt and Syria (Saoud, 2002).

However, Indian origin of the pointed arch and its passage to Syria and Egypt through Sassanid Iran has been already dismissed by Hill (1993), who rightly believed in the Muslim origin of the pointed arch. The first appearance of the pointed arch in the Muslim World was traced to the Al-Aqsa Mosque (780, fig. 4a), the Ukhaidir Palace (Iraq, 778), the Ramlah Cistern (789) and the Jussaq Al-Khaqani Palace (Samara, 836), all of which Abbasid buildings (Saoud, 2002).

However, the Ibn Tulun Mosque (Egypt, 879) remains the first building where the pointed arch was used constructively and systematically(Fig.4b). Historic sources indicate that Sicily played the role of intermediary for the transmission of many Muslim motifs including the pointed arch. Conant (1954) established the Sicilian connection through Amalfitan merchants who had trade links with Egypt where the pointed arch of the Ibn Tulun Mosque (Fig.4b) must have been the source. White (1971) endorsed this theory suggesting that it was transmitted to Amalfi in 1000 through commercial and trade ties with Egypt. It was first used in the porch of the Abbey of Monte Cassimo in 1071. This challenges the idea widely accepted in Europe that the pointed arch, on which Gothic architecture was based, was an invention of European architects in their efforts to overcome the static problems in Romanesque vaulting (Saoud, 2002). In reality, the first Turkish pointed arch have been scketced by Archeolog K─▒zlasov during an excavation, belong to a Budist temple in Suyab[2], dated back 7th century B.C. (Fig. 2a,b) (Cezar, 1977).

Turkish Pointed Arches

It is an important subject to examine the Turkish Pointed arches  before the examination of the typology of buildings, propositions, ornamentation characteristics seen in the whole of Turkish architecture, because of it has a special character in the world architecture.

Fig. 5. Turkish Pointed Arches in Ottoman Turkish Architecture[3]:

Pointed Iranian Arches

Iranian (Persian) Pointed Arches have some similarities with Turkish Pointed Arches. But they have never used tangent to create pointed arch.


The Turks mastered the use and unique design of the pointed arches more than any other civilization.┬á The Turks’ knowledge of geometry and laws of statics must also have played a leading role in their choices of various types of pointed arches. While migrating from Central Asia to Europe, the Turks, who are Christian or Jews or Armenian use their pointed arches in their churches and monasteries, also used the first Turkish pointed arches in the mosques to the North Africa (Ibni Tulun Mosque). As the Christians did not use pointed arches except the Gothic period, the Turks never used semi-circle arches before the 18th century. The pointed arches built at the specific Turkish pointed arches rules, point to the “Turk” identity no matter where and which religious belong.

  • Prof. Dr.┬á Ayse Gulcin KUCUKKAYA
    Yeditepe University, Faculty of Architecture, Istanbul, Turkey
    [email protected]


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[1]There are two more schools about the origin of Turkish Architecture in Turkey; 1. When Turks came to Anatolia (10th Century), these regions already had important historical centers going back to Paleolithic Age (Stone Age). From 2000 B.C onwards Anatolia become the center of Art for Hittites, Urartu, Frigs, Byzantium, in the West and South of Anatolia, Greeks and Romans and left numerous monuments. According to this view, the Ottoman Art remained under the influence of these unique civilizations and came to fruition as a result of these past civilizations (Gurlitt, 1907). For example Sultan Ahmet Mosque in Istanbul is a copy of Hagia Sophia and Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, which has a central dome (16th Century), were effected by Hagia Sophia dome (Gabriel, 1942). 2. According to the third view, the Art of Islam was a continuation of Pre-Islamic cultures they occupied. Iran and Sassanid Art was effective in the development of Islam culture and the Turkish religious architecture was abundantly affected in this way (Ayverdi,1965).

[2] Suyab (modern; Ak-Beshim) was an ancient Silk Road city located some 50 km east from Bishkek, and 8 km west southwest from Tokmok, in the Chui River valley, present-day Kyrgyzstan. It was the capital of West Gokturk and Turgish in 5th and 6th Centuries (Cezar, 1977).

[3] Terminology:

  • Spring line: The line at which an arch beginsÔÇölocated at or above the impost.
  • Arc: A curved line that is part of the circumference of a circle.
  • Circumference: The distance around the perimeter of a circle.
  • Diameter: The distance across a circle through its center point.
  • Radius: The distance from the center point of a circle to its perimeter. Equal to one half of the diameter.
  • Point of Tangency (tangent point): The point at which the tangent touches an arc or circle.
  • Tangent: A line, arc, or circle that touches an arc or circle at only one point.

A.G├╝l├žin K├ť├ç├ťKKAYA

Prof. Dr. AYSE GULCIN KUCUKKAYA (TALUY) Yeditepe University, Faculty of Architecture, Istanbul-, Turkey Architectural Conservation, Stone Conservation Technology & Turkish History of Architecture Address; Yeditepe University, Mimarlik Bolumu, 34755 Kayisdagi, Istanbul, Turkey(Office) [email protected], [email protected] http://mimarlik.yeditepe.edu.tr/en/akademik-kadro ORCHID NO: 0000-0003-3454-1254 Date of Birth and Place: 13 May, 1957-Istanbul, Turkey Ay┼če G├╝l├žin K├ť├ç├ťKKAYA (Taluy), ─░stanbul Yeditepe ├ťniversitesi Mimarl─▒k Fakultesi Mimarl─▒k Tarihi ve Restorasyon konusunda uzman bir profes├Ârd├╝r. Doktoras─▒n─▒ ─░stanbulÔÇÖdaki Mimar Sinan G├╝zel Sanatlar ├ťniversitesiÔÇÖnden Mimarl─▒k Tarihi ve Koruma alan─▒nda (1987) ÔÇť17. Y├╝zy─▒l Osmanl─▒ Mimar─▒; Sedefkar Mehmet A─čaÔÇŁ. ICCROMÔÇÖda koruma konulu sertifika kurslar─▒na kat─▒ld─▒; RomaÔÇÖda Mimari Koruma Kursu (1993), OsloÔÇÖda Ah┼čap Koruma Teknolojisi Kursu (1996) ve VenedikÔÇÖte Ta┼č Koruma Teknolojisi Kursu (1999). 1984-2009 y─▒llar─▒ aras─▒nda Edirne Trakya ├ťniversitesi Mimarl─▒k Fak├╝ltesiÔÇÖnde ├žal─▒┼čt─▒. 2005-2009 y─▒llar─▒ aras─▒nda ayn─▒ ├╝niversitede Mimarl─▒k B├Âl├╝m Ba┼čkan─▒ olarak ├žal─▒┼čt─▒. 2010-2011 y─▒llar─▒ aras─▒nda bir y─▒l boyunca G├╝ney Afrika DurbanÔÇÖda UKZNÔÇÖde School of Architecture, Planning & HousingÔÇÖde ├žal─▒┼čt─▒. Profes├Âr K├╝├ž├╝kkaya, ta┼č koruma, mimari koruma ve T├╝rk-Osmanl─▒ Mimarl─▒k Tarihi konular─▒nda uzmand─▒r. Stone Conservation (2004, 2014) ├╝zerine yay─▒nlanm─▒┼č iki kitab─▒ ve farkl─▒ dergilerde yay─▒nlanm─▒┼č ├žok say─▒da makalesi bulunmaktad─▒r. 2011 y─▒l─▒ndan itibaren Yeditepe ├ťniversitesi Mimarl─▒k Fak├╝ltesiÔÇÖnde g├Ârev yapmaktad─▒r.
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