Artuklu Palace

Artuklu Palace
General information
Type Palace
Location Diyarbakır, Turkey
Coordinates 37°54′59″N 40°14′30″E / 37.91629°N 40.24170°E / 37.91629; 40.24170
Construction started early 13th century
Design and construction
Client Artuqid rulers
Owner Turkish state
Drawing made by M. Meinecke of Artuklu Palace door structure

Artuklu Palace or Artukid Palace or Artuqid Palace (Turkish: Artuklu Sarayı) was the palace of Diyarbakır branch of the Turkish Beylik and dynasty of Artukids who ruled eastern Anatolia and Jazira in the 12th and 13th centuries and situated in the present-day İçkale neighborhood Diyarbakır urban zone within the compound of Diyarbakır City Walls. Built during the reign of the Bey of Artuklu Nasreddin Muhammed (1200–1222) and partially excavated in the 1960s, the main body of the palace is today still buried under a mound.

This palace was also where, as his father before him, the groundbreaking Arab Muslim scholar, inventor, and mechanical engineer Al-Jazari had worked for 30 years and was the place, inspiration and context of many of this inventions and devices. Surrounded by gardens, rich in amenities as well as in decorative and artistic elements (such as statues, with a number of scholars defining a period of less strict observance of ban on human representation in the early centuries of Islam) and also in eccentricities, itself perhaps inspired by a tradition dating back to the Umayyad palace of Khirbat al-Mafjar in Jericho, the palaces of the Artukids provided models for the Mameluks later. There are further Artukid palatial residences in Mardin, Hasankeyf and Palu whose remains stand, but this one in Diyarbakır is usually referred to as the "Palace" of the sons of Artuk. The palace was used as a prison in the beginning of the Ottoman rule (16th century) until it fell into decay and gradually disappeared under the present-day Virantepe mound.

Partial excavations on the palace site were carried out in 1961 under the direction of the art historian and Ottoman archaeologist Oktay Aslanapa. Important ruins found during the excavation, such as part of the palace garden and the clear outlines of the architectural system of Turkish baths were not conserved and disappeared over time.[1] The vestiges were also externally studied of recent date using computer technologies.[2]

Three representations for the Diyarbakır palace door knockers with double Artuklu dragons, today missing. The first is the drawing made by their creator Al-Jazari in his book; the second ones are contemporaneous door knockers from Cizre Great Mosque, built by Musul Atabegs and exhibited today in Istanbul; the third is of unknown provenance from eastern Anatolia, and allegedly smuggled through Tbilisi to Germany, is now in Berlin Museum of Islamic Art


The Door and the Door-Knockers

Door knockers, often cast in bronze, had a symbolic significance across eastern Anatolia and were part of a thematic program that was prominent in the region especially during the 12th - 13th centuries. The tradition, although evolved, survives to this day in such centers as Kemaliye. Along with the door in its entirety, they were also a distinctive feature of the palace in Diyarbakır.

The door knockers of Artuklu Palace, which united the figures of a double dragon, a lion and a snake, are known, along with the whole structure of the four meter high door where they were attached, through the descriptions made by the designer al-Jazari in his manuscript and the drawings within,[3] as well as on the basis of similarities that can be established with the door and the double-dragon figured door-knockers of the Great Mosque of Cizre, built 1155-1160 by the Atabegs of Musul, with Kubadabad Palace tiles and with the dragons in relief in Susuz Han caravanserai near Burdur. The embracing dragons of Cizre Mosque door knockers are on display today in İstanbul's Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (Ibrahim Pasha Palace). Another similar knocker, also with dragons, is exhibited in Berlin's Museum of Islamic Art and was, according to early literature, bought in Tbilisi on behalf of Berlin Museums in 1912. However, later publications claim that it originated from south-east Anatolia/North Mesopotamia and smuggled through Tbilisi. The similar dragon figures with the knotted bodies like those on the door-knockers are also seen on some coins of the Artuqids of Hısn Keyfa (Hasankeyf). An imaginative drawing of Artuklu Palace door was made by Michael Meinecke on the basis of Al-Jazari's sketch and the cited similar works.

Al-Jazari's 1206-dated manuscript of "Al-Jami Bain Al-Ilm Wal-Amal Al-Nafi Fi Sinat'at Al-Hiyal" (The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices), also includes such other artifacts conceived specially for the Artuklu Palace as clocks, human and animal shaped toys, automatic jug and pools, water equipment, alarm clock and protractor.


  1. ^ Interview: "Oktay Aslanapa". Turkish Daily News. Interview:. Retrieved 2001-04-15. 
  2. ^ Ayhan Ayteş, Istanbul Bilgi University. Citation: "Designing the new memory space for cultural heritage". International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, ACM SIGGRAPH 2004 Educators program, Session: Cultural Heritage, Los Angeles, California, 2004, ISBN 1-59593-896-2. Citation:. Retrieved 2001-04-15. 
  3. ^ Al-Jazari praises his door knocker as "a real masterpiece, a real pearl" and the door of the palace in the following words: "... then I made the rings as they embraced each other and their heads were turned to each other for each wings of the door. Their mouth is open as if they want to catch the lion's head and neck. The lion's head and neck is the extension of the iron nail that was nailed to the door. The teeth of the snake are in two holes in the lion's neck and the ring moves on them. Its center is formed by the motifs…in the cage style that is made of the flat rods which have finger-like thickness and thicker than them."



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