ANAMED Talks – Becoming Bursa: The First Ottoman Capital Revisited



Date:   17 June 2021
Time:  18:30 (Turkey Local Time, GMT +3)
2020-2021 academic year will end with Suna Çağaptay’s talk titled “Becoming Bursa: The First Ottoman Capital Revisited”.

Conquered in 1326, Bursa, known to the Byzantines as Prousa, served as the first capital of the Ottoman Empire. It retained its spiritual and commercial importance even after Edirne (Adrianople) in Thrace, and later Constantinople (Istanbul), functioned as Ottoman capitals. Yet, to date, no comprehensive study has been published on the city’s role as the inaugural center of a great empire. In works by art and architectural historians, the city has often been portrayed as having a small or insignificant pre-Ottoman past, as if the Ottomans created the city from scratch. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In her “The First Capital of the Ottoman Empire The Religious, Architectural, and Social History of Bursa titled book”, rooted in the author’s archaeological experience, Suna Çağaptay tells the story of the transition from a Byzantine Christian city to an Islamic Ottoman one, positing that Bursa was a multi-faith capital where we can see the religious plurality and modernity of the Ottoman world. The encounter between local and incoming forms created a synthesis filled with nuance, texture, and meaning. Indeed, when one looks more closely and recognizes that the contributions of the past do not threaten the authenticity of the present, a richer and more accurate narrative of the city and its Ottoman accommodation emerges.

Moderated by Oya Pancaroğlu, this online talk will be held in English.

Please register this online event in advance from here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

If you have missed the talk, you can access it via ANAMED’s Youtube channel.

Suna Çağaptay is an archaeologist and architectural historian working on Late Byzantine, Early Ottoman, Crusader, and principality-period architecture and urbanism in late medieval Anatolia, in particular, the appropriation of Byzantine and Latin architectural techniques and forms in Islamic contexts and the afterlives of ancient cities. Çağaptay holds a PhD in architectural history and theory from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (2007) and an MA (2001) and BA (1998) from Bilkent University, Ankara.  She is an assistant professor of archaeology and architectural history in the Faculty of Architecture and Design at Bahçeşehir University (BAU), Istanbul. Since 2017, she has been a research associate for “The Impact of the Ancient City,” a project based in the Faculty of Classics at the University of Cambridge, funded by the European Research Council.  Her publications include:  “The First Ottoman Capital: The Religious, Architectural and Social History of Bursa” (IB Tauris, 2020), as well as numerous book chapters and articles that have appeared in Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Muqarnas, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Speculum, Ege Mimarlık, EI-Three, and The Turkish Studies Review. She has been also a co-editor for the forthcoming volume titled Cities as Palimpsests? Responses to Antiquity in Eastern Mediterranean Urbanism (Oxbow Books, 2022).

Oya Pancaroğlu received her PhD in Islamic art and architecture from Harvard University in 2000 and is currently Professor in the Department of History, Boğaziçi University. Her research interests include Islamic architecture in medieval Anatolia, ceramic production in the medieval Persianate world and figural representation in Islamic art. Her recent publications include “İsmail Ağa, Beyşehir and Architectural Patronage in 14th-Century Central Anatolia” (in: Cultural Encounters in Anatolia in the Medieval Period: The Ilkhanids in Anatolia. Ankara: VEKAM, 2019) and “Conditions of Love and Conventions of Representation in the Illustrated Manuscript of Varqa and Gulshah” (in: The Image Debate: Figural Representation in Islam and Across the World. London: Gingko, 2019).