Imperial References: The Gök Medrese in Sivas as an Example of the Use of Marble in Thirteenth-century Anatolia

  • Sophia Vassilopoulou (Autor/in)


Marble was a frequently deployed material in the representative architecture of the two most important royal patrons in Rum-Seljuq Anatolia, the sultans 'Izz ad-Dīn Kaykāwūs (r. 1211–1220) and ‘Alā ad-Dīn Kayqubād (r. 1220–1237) and its use reached a peak in the royal capital, Konya. The practice was further developed by patrons from the bureaucratic and military elite who replaced the sultans in providing patronage for public foundations in the second half of the thirteenth century. Based on the work on one of the most important patrons of this later period, Fakhr alDīn 'Alī ibn al-Ḥusayn or Sahib Ata, this paper attempts to investigate the function of marble decoration in the architecture of the second half of the thirteenth century by analysing the concept of marble use in royal commissions in the first half of the same century. In addition, in order to understand how the functions and effects of forms and materials could shift depending on political and social circumstances, the paper also takes a brief look at similar developments beyond the borders of Anatolia - at Zangid Aleppo and Damascus. This short examination will allow for further discussion of the possible 'entanglements' of traditions, the 'non-Muslim' past of Anatolia and the political ambitions of the several patrons during the different phases of the thirteenth century in Anatolia.