‘Ottoman shopping malls’ revealed in Van excavations
VAN – Anadolu Agency
The obsession with shopping malls in Anatolia is apparently not just a modern phenomenon. AA PhotoOngoing excavations in the old city of Van have shed light on the lifestyles, social conditions and dietary habits of the city’s inhabitants from the Ottoman era, revealing bazaar structures that resemble modern-day shopping malls.
The excavations were undertaken to uncover the hidden ancient layers of Van, which was occupied by the Russians and ruined during the turbulence of the First World War. They provide significant insight into civil architecture in the Ottoman era, when Van was a major center home to many intellectuals and elites.
Led by Istanbul University’s Van Region History and Archaeology Center Director Erkan Konyar, the excavations are being carried out by a team of partners from 12 universities. The team is working around structures such as the Kayaçelebi Mosque and the Hüsrevpaşa social complex.
Konyar said the group has been particularly working on Van’s settlement between the 13th and 20th century. He said they have located significant details about the streets, civil architecture and public structures in the Seljuk and Ottoman eras, working on an area of 5,000 square meters. The team has unearthed three complexes of commercial units, which Konyar called “very significant work.”
Konyar said remains of business sites found included fabric, perfume, glass and shoe stores dating back to the 19th century, many of which “had been left after big fires.” Excavations uncovered large enterprises, smaller stores with counters, and areas similar to shopping malls.
“Excavations show that Van had a rich culture in the 19th century. It is possible to see in the city the traces of French brands, French perfumes, British and Russian porcelain shops. We can find here everything about the life and socio economic structures of people. Van was very close to Western culture at the time,” Konyar added.
He said the team’s goal is to “reveal the tissue of the city,” explaining that over the last two years they had obtained very important information about the structures of an Ottoman city. Many adobe structures found in the old city easily corrode. Projects to protect and reevaluate these areas have taken place and will continue.