Examples of Byzantine Ceramoplastic and Polychrome Tile Recently Found at NiksarÜmmühan Melda Ermiş
The aim of this paper is to introduce the new findings from Niksar dated to the Byzantine period. A small number of striking pieces found in the vicinity of Niksar are currently exhibited in the Yagıbasan Madrasah. Among these are quatrefoil ceramoplastic decorations. These decorations were used to adorn building façades in Byzantine architecture. Their analogs are seen in the Balkans, Constantinopolis (capital of the Byzantine Empire), and Western Anatolia. The other remarkable pieces are tiles from the Byzantine period. Such examples of Byzantine polychrome tiles are rarely seen and these examples are from Preslav, Constantinopolis and Bithynia. The presence of the tiles from the Byzantine period in Niksar is an interesting issue that requires further research.
Niksar’dan Bizans Dönemine ait Keramoplastik ve Çini ÖrnekleriÜmmühan Melda Ermiş
Bu çalışmada, Niksar’dan Bizans dönemine ait yeni birtakım buluntuların tanıtılması amaçlanmıştır. Niksar çevresinde bulunan ve günümüzde Yağıbasan Medresesi içinde oluşturulan vitrinlerde sergilenen birkaç parça dikkat çekicidir. Bunlardan biri dört yapraklı yonca biçimli keramoplastik süslemelerdir. Bizans mimarinde cephe süslemesinde kullanılan bu bezemelerin benzer örnekleri Balkanlarda, başkent Konstantinopolis’de ve Batı Anadolu’da görülmektedir. Yağıbasan Medresesi’nde sergilenen dikkat çekici diğer veriler ise Bizans dönemine ait çini parçalarıdır. Bizans dönemine ait çinilerden az örnek bilinmektedir. Bilinen örneklerin çoğunluğu Bulgaristan Preslav, Konstantinopolis ve Bithynia’dandır. Niksar’da Bizans dönemine ait çini örneklerine rastlanması oldukça dikkat çekici bir husus olup, araştırılması gerekli bir konudur.
The aim of this paper is to introduce several new findings from the Byzantine period recovered in Niksar. A few striking pieces found at Niksar are currently showcased at the Yağıbasan Madrassa. A selection of these include quatrefoil ceramoplastic decorations. Significant quantities of decorative quatrefoil ceramoplastic fragments (which are mostly seen in the Balkans and to a lesser extent in the capital Constantinople and Anatolia), have been found in Tokat and the surrounding area. Eyice, in his article on decorative pottery, notes that the remains of a church on the Dumanlı Plateau feature quatrefoil decorations. Several examples were also found in two churches, dated around the Middle Byzantine Period, during Excavations at Komana, managed by Burcu Erciyas. A study carried out by Erciyas and Sökmen identified decorative pottery in various areas around Tokat. Examples of quatrefoil decorative pottery were found in the village of Gökçeoluk at Niksar and the Kaplanlı site of Yıldızlı in the town of Çevreli of Almus during surveys made by the Tokat Museum following an illegal excavation. Various types of quatrefoil ceramoplastic pieces were possibly used as spolia in the Bibi Hatun Mausoleum in Tokat’s town center. The other striking pieces exhibited in the showcases at the Yağıbasan Madrassa are tile fragments from the Byzantine period. One of the fragments was made in polychrome glazed ware with cream-white fabric and composed of three combined pieces. The piece was decorated with a design of interlinking circles each with a cross in its center. The other tile fragment was made from a pinkish fabric in polychrome underglaze painted ware. Patterns on the fragment are drawn with a black contour. The body of a bird facing right is visible in the center of the fragment. Its wing is detailed by a line with three curves, decreasing in size towards the center. The parts displaying the bird’s head and feet are broken and missing. There are few known tile examples from the Byzantine period. Therefore, it was quite remarkable to find tiles from the Byzantine period in Niksar and it is a subject that needs to be investigated in detail. The fragments found in Niksar cannot be precisely dated due to their uncertain contexts and production locations. However, considering that tile production came into and went out of fashion during the Middle Byzantine period and that the area was conquered by the Turks immediately after 1071, they can possibly be dated to the period between the end of the 9th century and the first half of the 11th century. In addition to the tile fragments from Niksar, a tile fragment from the Byzantine period was also identified at the Tokat Museum in recent years. Data relevant to Byzantine tiles was also revealed during the Komana Excavations. The tiles identified in Tokat and Niksar are very significant as the data on Byzantine tiles is limited to the examples from Bulgaria, Constantinopolis (the capital of the Byzantine Empire), Bithynia, fragments from the Mosque of Cordoba, and the Crimea. The latest studies and tile analyses have shown that tile production in Preslav, Constantinople and Bithynia were different, suggesting that the tiles were made in different workshops. The tiles in Bulgaria - dated between the late 9th century and 10th century - were manufactured in kilns installed near the structures where they were found. It is unknown exactly where the tiles in Constantinople, dated between the end of the 9th century and the 11th century, were manufactured. Ettinghausen highlights this production diversity and puts emphasis on central production by one or multiple workshops, probably in or near Istanbul. Visual observations and scientific analyses on the Bithynia and Constantinople tiles as well as the dissimilarities between glaze colors and pattern characteristics indicate different workshops. Studies show that there was tile production in Bithynia. The currently unknown production site of the Tokat examples presents a new research subject. It is significant to find tiles as well as quatrefoil ceramoplastic decorations from the Byzantine period in Niksar. Both decorative elements are seen in the Balkans, the capital city and the surrounding area from the Byzantine period. Commercial and cultural connections between the Black Sea ports must be analyzed in order to explain the presence of the data in Tokat and Niksar. It is also necessary to consider Tokat’s relationship with the northern-southern and eastern-western road networks of Anatolia. Moreover, the cultural impact of the political changes in the Near East between the 8th and 13th centuries should be examined. Rejuvenated influences of the Sassanid and also Turkish and Islamic arts influences spread around the Black Sea by northward trade routes from the Near East. Therefore, relationships between the Byzantine capital, coasts of the Black Sea, and Turkish-Islamic arts – especially in the Near East – should be analyzed on a larger scale in order to determine the position of the ceramoplastic and tile fragments from Niksar and its surroundings within the context of Byzantine art.