Studies on Tombstones

As unique archival documents, tombstones can constitute a research topic for fields such as literature, history and sociology. Their inscriptions, on the other hand, hold immense value for art history in the light of their potential connection with ornamentation and architectural styles. Many reasons including their location, unfixed terminology and unidentified typology can be cited for the difficulty in studying them further. The unprotected tombstones also suffer from the risk of damage and eventual extinction. In recent years studies on tombstones have visibly mounted. Specialized workshops have been organized related solely to this field. While books are relatively few among the multiple venues of research, we can count up to fifty studies in the field so far. Most of the books that can be categorized under a few headings according to their contents seem to approach the issue from a single angle of art history. Unfortunately drawings, inscription readings, stone works, architectural perspective, ornamentation and calligraphy are not treated simultaneously. Large regions are not studied with sufficient depth. Hence more detailed and focused monographs can contribute to a fuller coverage. Studies on the Seljuks and the ancient lands of Balkans and Egypt occupy much less place compared to studies on the Ottomans and Anatolia. Issues such as the drawing quality, the relation of the tombstone to other elements of the tomb, the shape-essence relationship with reference to the inscription and the preparation of cemetery maps all have to be a part of later research in the field.

Ahmet Sacit Açıkgözoğlu

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