Early Period of Anatolian Turkish Heritage: Niksar, The Capital of Danishmend Dynasty
Permanent Delegation of Turkey to UNESCO
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Anatolia underwent profound changes during 11th and 12th centuries. Indeed, these changes constitute a significant stage in the history of humanity. In this period, Turkish-Islamic civilisation reached from Middle East into Anatolia, starting a process that would end with proliferation of this civilisation even in Balkans. As of 12th century, these fundamental facts paved way for social, political and also cultural changes in Anatolia. This was the era when the pioneering and leading works of “cultural layer”, eventually known as Anatolian Turkish-Islamic Civilisation, were produced in various towns and cities of Anatolia. Niksar is among these towns, having a privileged status thanks to intensity and significance of cultural assets within.
Today, Niksar is a district of Tokat province; it is located on intersection point of roads coming from Iran, extending to Central Anatolia, Aegean Regions and Istanbul, as well as Anatolian routes from south to Black Sea Region. Due to geopolitical importance of Niksar, Persians had the royal road, which began in Persepolis, pass through Niksar; besides, Black Sea route of Spice trade also traversed the town. Kelkit River, which rises in Anatolia and flows into Black Sea, adds even more to the economic, political and cultural significance of Niksar.
Human life and civilisation have continued in the town since Chalcolithic and Bronze Ages. Today, the town has a population of about 40,000. Ancient Niksar Castle is located on the hill between Maduru and Çanakçı streams, while historic wooden mosques rise around the Castle, in addition to bazaar [arasta] and dozens of historic fountains. The housing pattern of the town maintains ancient wooden characteristics; in terms of typology, Niksar comprises beautiful examples of Turkish house and konak (mansion) architecture. Cultural assets, which emerged thanks to the great changes in Anatolia in 12th and 13th centuries, are generally located in and around the Castle. These buildings and monuments reflect the rich architectural and artistic elements of the early heritage created by Turkish Beys (Emir) who laid the foundation for Turkish civilisation in Anatolia.
In 11th century, Byzantine Niksar was seized by Turks in the wake of Battle of Manzikert; in 1077, it became the capital of Danishmendid. Thanks to geopolitical location, the town mediated proliferation of Turkish-Islamic culture in the regions of Black Sea and Central Anatolia.
Danishmends easily extended from Niksar to Central Anatolia and Black Sea Regions; consequently, they played an important during Turkification of Anatolia by expanding their state and through cultural works. Due to the states’ success in politics and culture, they used the title ‘’Grand Melik of All Romania and the East’’ in the local currency in Greek.
Danishmend, a Persian word, means “wise man”. Accordingly, the beylik was known for inviting the wise and religious scholars to their new lands, as well as for welcoming the learned. Thanks to this character of Danishmendids, Niksar rapidly became a cultural and scientific centre where early and pioneering examples and products of Turkish-Islamic civilisation were created. Thus, the town is a witness of how Anatolia added a new cultural layer to many others throughout millennia. Immediately after the Battle of Manzikert, there was a huge construction period in Niksar. The buildings included many zawiya, khanqah, mosque and masjid for education and performance of religious and Sufi disciplines; likewise, madrasas were constructed for positive sciences, while social and economic structures, such as fountains, Turkish baths, caravanserais, as well as military quarters were built for urban life and various purposes. Indeed, these structures match all building types in Anatolian Turkish culture. This heritage, which comprises rich examples of Danishmendid cultural heritage, kept on advancing after 1175 when the beylik came under the rule of Seljuk Sultanate of Rum.
Yağbasan Madrasa has a special place among this rich cultural heritage. As the first madrasa of Anatolian Turkish Civilisation, Yağbasan was built in 1157-1158. Thanks to Yağbasan Madrasa, the Danishmendid brought the madrasa institution, which has made great contributions to education and science in Muslim world, into Anatolia. Moreover, Davis Kayseri, who is well known Sufi scholar and founder of the Ottoman Medrese system, was educated in Niksar in Yağbasan Madrasa in 12 years, and completed his first philosophical textwork at Niksar Yağıbasan Medrasa. Davudi Kayseri founded the Ottoman Medrese System during the period of Orhan Bey. Yağbasan, has an atrium and two iwans without portico. Yağbasan is especially important in terms of medical education. Thanks to this madrasa, Anatolia reached the most advanced medical science of its time. It was also the first step towards eventual developments that would render Anatolia the most important centre of medical science in upcoming centuries (under Ottoman rule).
Early Anatolian-Turkish buildings in Niksar were constructed around the Castle in such manner to that the latter was positioned in the centre. Castle was built in Roman era, and bears various traces of repair and restoration by Byzantines and Turks due to seismic fragility of the town. Danishmendid repaired the Castle, reinforced and made use of Roman sections such as treasury, granary, cisterns, baths, fountains, by means of vaulted underground roads and vaulted sustaining supports. Moreover, they contributed the palace, baths, fountains, mosques, Mausoleum and Yağbasan Madrasa to the inventory of cultural structures in the castle.
The citadel hosts Nizamettin Yağbasan Mausoleum, a typical early Danishmendid building, near Yağbasan Madrasa, as well as the masjid with the same name. Castle Mosque, palatial structures, arsenals, baths and masjids have lost their monumental features because of various earthquakes strike from 14th to 20th century. Nonetheless, the rich remains under and above the ground have huge archaeological and cultural importance in order to demonstrate the architectural development and evolution in Anatolia in 12th and 13th centuries. Treasury of 18,934 Seljuk coins was unearthed during an archaeological excavation in the final quarter of 20th century in the castle. This finding shows that citadel treasury and granaries, military quarters and palace were actively used by Turks. In this regard, Niksar Citadel is a notable archaeological site so as to reflect information about urban life of Anatolian Turks, as well as urban planning and architectural evolution throughout the process.
In spite of the turbulent political situation in 12th and 13th centuries (efforts by various Turkish Beys to constitute Anatolian Turkish Unity, their collective struggle against Byzantium and Crusaders, settlement of new-coming Turkic tribes etc.), Danishmendid have also constructed all urban elements and structures required by sociocultural life of the society around the castle, out of the city walls. This was probably due to the fact that their ‘’settlement policy’’ for new population. It is known that, the Danişmendid applied the "settlement policy’’ (including the placement of new Turkish families in the agricultural areas of the city) for the first time within the early Anatolian Turkic States. This regular policy of settlement was maintained in Seljuk and then in the Ottoman Empire as well.
Keşfi Osman Effendi Mosque, built outside the citadel by Jalwati order, underwent two separate construction processes in 1078 and 1108. The Grand Mosque, dated to 1145, is a basilica-style building, some examples of which can be observed on other early Turkish mosques. Cin Mosque has a rectangular plan on east-west direction, covered with sharp barrel vault and walled with rubble masonry, was constructed in 1160. Mosque of Çöreği Büyük is an important building constructed by Ilkhanate in 13th century. It was originally a zawiya and khanqah. It is a notable structure, since it is the first ever zawiya with a known plan. The plan actually consists of three iwans and corner rooms, giving to the atrium, except for the south. It is the adaptation of a well-known scheme of Ghaznavid, Kara-Khanid and Seljuk Empire eras into zawiya architecture. The atrium is an indicator of the argument that Niksar and Tokat Yağıbasan Madrasas have influenced the plans of subsequent khanqah and zawiya architecture. On the crown gate is a sitting gazelle figure next to a masnavi by Ferdowsi, reflecting the artistic and cultural richness of the period.
In addition to this stock of religious buildings outside the city walls, there are several mausoleum and complexes [kulliye] of zawiya and madrasa (this complex sometimes have also mausoleum) constructed from 12th and 13th centuries. Kırkkızlar Mausoleum is dated to 1220. The Mausoleum features rare Anatolian brickworks. The interior and exterior plan is octagonal. It consists of two storeys, with mummy section below. It is adorned with neat brick wall, artistically supported with adornments of glazed tile in turquoise around the epitaph. Ayat al-Kursi is inscribed with faience mosaic within. Sungur Bey Zawiya and Mausoleum are dated to 1164- 1169. The complex was built in the name of a bey within Danishmendid Dynasty. Kitchen of zawiya is next to monumental mausoleum, in addition to archaeological remains of zawiya and masjid. Atabey Şahinşah Madrasa and Mausoleum is a building of rectangular plan with vault and iwan, and dated to 1182-1183. Ahi Pehlivan Mausoleum and Zawiya is built in 13th century, and offers an important archaeological site in terms of early Anatolian-Turkish complex architecture. In addition, mausoleums of Fahriye Hatun, Mühür Kesen and Sheikh Bolat are among significant archaeological heritage of Niksar.
Apart from the mentioned complexes, there are, as well, distinct mausoleums, exclusively built as tomb. These Mausoleum are located in Melikgazi Cemetery, the Muslim necropolis of the town during 11th, 12th and 13th centuries. Cemetery is an outdoor museum thanks to richness of Danishmendid, Seljuklar, Ilkhanate and Ottoman gravestones in addition to the mausoleum. The Mausoleum and mausoleums exhibit various architectural styles. Gravestones show traditions of millennia and indicated tombs of those who have migrated to Niksar from Balkans, Anatolia and Crimea for education purposes during 12th and 13th centuries. The cemetery is named after Melik Ghazi Mausoleum is actually the tomb of Danishmend Ahmad Ghazi, the conqueror of Niksar. Alternating hacking masonry in the mausoleum is a unique style, not observed even in Seljuk and Danishmendid mausoleums. So-called “Turkish triangles” in diamond forms towards the dome are uncommon for similar structures in 12th and 13th centuries. Apparently, the mausoleum was restored following the arrival of Ottoman rule in 1392. The restoration works are important, since they show how Ottomans cared and appropriated their ghazi ancestors, as well as their Anatolian-Turkish heritage of Beyliks Period. Doğan Şah Alp Mausoleum, a 12th century building, is notable as an early example in terms of form. The big structures opposite are Anonymous Mausoleums from 12th century; they have rubble walls and barrel vaults. Ak Yapı Mausoleum, a 13th century building with square plan and a dome with tromps, is another notable structure within cemetery. Atabey Şahinşah Mausoleum is from 12th century, has an octagonal form and is covered with a dome. All these gonbad are very rich in terms of architectural plan, construction elements, inscriptions and adornments on epitaphs, motifs on surrounding gravestones, as well as calligraphy and typology of such headstones. They reflect the features of the time in the tradition of calligraphy, a significant characteristic of Islamic civilisation.
The city maintains the folkloric traits which created the mentioned rich cultural and archaeological heritage. Even in 21st century, Culture of Beyliks, which shaped early Anatolian- Turkish culture and led to a new cultural stage in the beginning of second millennium, is apparent here and there by means of religious rituals, handicrafts and similar arts, oral tradition, as well as through names of people and places.
The Summary of Danishmend History: In 6th and 7th centuries, Islam gained recognition in Arabian Peninsula and this civilisation spread in Middle East, North Africa and Andalusia. This process paved way for serious changes in the history of humanity. History would enter a brand new stage upon foundation of Seljuk Empire by Turks on the eastern border of Eastern Roman Empire, whereupon they became the guard of Caliph.
Turkic-Oghuz tribes headed for Anatolia just prior to second millennium AD. Romanos IV Diogenes, the Eastern Roman Emperor, was uneasy with Turkic tribes on the frontiers of Seljuk Empire. Thereupon, Romanos IV decided to assault, but Alp Arslan, Seljuk Sultan, would not remain unresponsive and as a result Alp Arslan defeated Byzantines in Battle of Manzikert in 1071. Fight for Byzantine throne between military and technocrat families of the Empire, state wars between Armenian and Greek Orthodox peoples and related social tension did weaken Anatolia during the period.
“Ghaza-ghazi” system, as well as the advantages of socio-political structure of the Turkish Anatolian Beylik system, which was supported by “sheikhs” who have moderate attitude towards social and moral atmosphere of the public, took Turkic Beyliks deep into Anatolia.
Following the Battle of Manzikert, Niksar became homeland [il, yurt] to Artuq Bey, son of Eksük in 1071. Eventually, the town would change hands several times between Eastern Roman Empire and Turkish armies. In 1077, the town was seized by Melik Ahmet Danishmend Ghazi and became the capital of Danishmendid State. Thus, chain of events in famous epic of Danishmendname have got started.
Danishmendid Beys were strong enough to become the most important actors in Turkification of Anatolia, along with Anatolian Seljuk Sultanate. The relationship between two states was so rich to comprise political and affinity bonds. Danishmendid had a notable place in early Anatolian- Turkish history thanks to their fight against Crusaders together with the Seljuk, their bilateral relations and conflicts with Byzantine Emperors, struggles against Franks and above all, cultural riches. Under the rule of Emir Ghazi, the second of bey of Danishmendid, the beylik had seized the majority of Anatolia except for so-called Aegean Region. Thereupon, Sanjar, the Caliph of Baghdad, declared Emir Ghazi as Melik. In those days, the region, which extended from Central Anatolia until Sakarya River, was ruled by Danishmendid and accordingly called “Danishmendiye” or “Danishment Lands”. These denominations were still in use throughout Anatolia during the foundation years of Ottomans.
Following these golden ages, the state was divided between heirs as is the case in many Turkish states. Zunnun rules in Kayseri, while Ayd ud-Daula reigns in Malatya, and Nizamettin Yağıbasan governs Sivas, Tokat and Niksar. Each bey builds many madrasas, khanqah, zawiya, mausoleums and mosques in their respective realms. In 1174, Anatolian Seljuk Sultan Kilij Arslan II conquers Tokat, Sivas, Niksar and other Danishmend provinces, and establishes political Turkish unity in Anatolia. Thus, Anatolia Seljuk era starts in Niksar as well. Many structures, Kyrgyz Mausoleum above all, were built during this period.
Kilij Arslan divides the country between his eleven sons; thereupon, Anatolian political unity did not last long. Niksar became a centre of science and culture under the rule of Nasraddin Barkiyaruk Shah; soon, however, Rukn ad-Din Sulayman Shah captured Niksar and Amasya following the conflicts of brothers. The fortress walls were repaired in those days. Niksar underwent turbulent periods under Vizier Shamsuddin Isfahani, Rukn ad-din Kilij Arslan IV and Nur al-Din Pervane, before falling under Ilkhanate rule in 1307. In 1341, the town was captured by Eretnids, before becoming capital to Tajaddinids for a short while. Then, Niksar fell under rule of Kadi Burhan al-Din. This was another turbulent era for Niksar until the death of Kadi in 1398. Later on, the town voluntarily came under Ottoman hegemony, whereupon the Age of Beyliks was over.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
In the wake of Battle of Manzikert, the earliest crops of this new cultural stage in Anatolia were provided by different Turkic beyliks in various regions and cities. During this period, Anatolian Seljuk and Danishmendid were the leading states in terms of political system and culture all over Anatolia. In addition to these two, Anatolia hosted many other beyliks, including Artuqids, Mengujekids, Saltukids, Shah-Armens, Delmatches, Yinalids, Dilmaç, Beylik of Chaka, Beylik of Tanrıbermiş, Çubukoğulları and Inalids, all founded shortly after 1071. Solid cultural and social structures were established behind this apparently divided setup. Trade was revived, scientific progress was ensured, while efforts for political unity of Turks in Anatolia continued. This was a kind of cultural change and transition period in Anatolia, as well as the foundation era of Anatolian Turkish-Islamic Civilisation. As Danishmend capital, Niksar is a witness of this era of sociocultural and political transition, thanks to its urban, monumental and archaeological heritages dating back to 12th and 13th centuries. In fact, we can see that the Danişmendid, the first Anatolian Turkish State to implement the ‘’settlement policy’’ (iskan) and Niksar was developed rapidly in and around the city walls with regular urban settlements.
Niksar was the capital of Danishmendids before becoming a notable city under Anatolian Seljuk Sultanate. Thanks to advantages of this status and geopolitical position, as well as rich cultural and social environment, Niksar became influential in becoming of Anatolia a land of Turks. The city enabled sociocultural and economic communication between Islamic civilisation of Middle East and Eastern Roman peoples in western Anatolia, by the help of mentioned scientific and cultural riches. Yağbasan Madrasa is the first ever scientific centre in Anatolia, providing medical education during the Middle Age. Thus, the madrasa ensured transition of Islamic medicine to Anatolia and was the first step towards what would eventually be called “Age of Turkish-Islamic Medicine”.
On the other hand, the "madrasah education system" which the Danişmendid applied in the states including the Yağbasan Madrasa, later formed the characteristics of the education system of the Ottoman State. As Yağbasan Madrasa, the first Turkish-Islamic medrese in Anatolia, the madrasah architectural tradition has been the beginning of Anatolia. We also see that the plan of the Medresen influenced the plans of the tekke and stewards in later periods. Even the Yağbasan Madrasa of Niksar, alone is in a superior position in early Anatolian Turkish culture.
Apart from this madrasah, however, numerous complexes, tekke and zaviyan, which are witness to the scientific and cultural environment in Niksar, attracted people from Anatolia and Balkans who wanted to learn current science. Thus, Niksar was a capital city of sciences during the 12nd and 13th centuries where sciences such as religion, philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, language and medicine were developed and applied. With this structure, the city was "the bright face of the Middle Ages in Anatolia".
The famous Turkish Folk Literature, Danishmendname is an important work both as a chronicle and an epic. It begins with the account of huge enthusiasm upon the conquest of Niksar and its surroundings, and tells the achievements of Danishmend Beys, who attained a privileged status among Anatolian Beyliks thanks to cultural activities. Danishmendname becomes even more precious in historical terms, since it is a kind of sequel to the epic of Battal Ghazi, the precursor of Turk Ghazi tradition. Upon the creation of Saltuknama, the addition to Danishmendname, these three epics have completed the account of all periods from entrance of Turks into Anatolia and their passage to Balkans. Importance of each epic grows even higher in terms of cultural continuity and historical integrity of Anatolian Turkish civilisation when the three are treated together.
Criterion (ii): Thanks to its geopolitical position, Niksar has always been a centre for sharing, exchange and combination of cultural values. This character has helped enhancing the interaction and fluidity between Islamic civilisation in Middle East and societies settled in Anatolia after Battle of Manzikert. Transitivity between Islamic and Anatolian cultures enjoy a huge boost in this era; accordingly, Niksar has gained a genuine status in terms of proliferation of medical science in Anatolia, hosting the first ever medical madrasa. Thanks to the Yağbasan Madrasa, the madrasa education system was transferred to the next Anatolian states. The education system is one of the main reasons for the rise of the Anatolian Turkish civilization and creation of a separate cultural era in Anatolia, after the 11th century.
In line with the mentioned cultural interaction, Niksar also comprises the traces of Iranian architectural style, since Iran was on the track of Turkic tribes on their way to Anatolia. In this regard, Niksar rises to a peerless position among early Turkish settlements in Anatolia, in terms of cultural exchange and sharing.
On the other hand, these heritages of early Anatolian-Turkish architecture blended with local cultural elements so as to provide even greater development. This cultural interaction paved way for a stream that would eventually yield Anatolian Seljuk and Ottoman architectural styles, these most superior traditions of Anatolian Turkish civilisation, which would subsequently provide us with many madrasas, mosques, complexes, zawiyah and mausoleum.
Thanks to Danishmendname, “ghaza-ghazi” approach gained recognition as a cultural element once again during proliferation of Anatolian Turkish culture in Balkans. This was indeed a new era in the history of the world following the Turkification of Anatolia. Saltuknama, the latest link in the chain of “ghaza-ghazi” epics of Battal Ghazi and Danishmend Bey, tells the account of efforts and services towards proliferation of Islam in Balkans through activities of Sarı Saltuk, another heroic wise man.
In the Anatolian Turkish Islamic society, Danişmendname, transferred to the next generations in the "Oghuz language" via ‘’oral folk literature’’. This epic has been a great highlight in the life and evolution of contemporary Turkish that formed by Anatolian Turkish.
Criterion (iv): Under Danishmend rule, Niksar became a genuine centre of early Anatolian Turkish civilisation in architectural and artistic terms, thanks to its urban texture, mosques, khanqah, complexes, zawiya and Mausoleum around the Castle that dates back to 12th and 13th centuries. Niksar attains a special and privileged status in terms of urban, architectural and artistic texture of the era, since it is possible to see all these buildings together.
Religious, folkloric, artistic and handicraft related character of early Anatolian Turkish Civilisation still survives in social life; accordingly, Niksar becomes significant and peerless for understanding sociocultural, economic and political aspects of Beyliks Period of the 12nd and 13th centuries.
Criterion (vi): Niksar was a critical centre for progress of Turks in Anatolia thanks to its geopolitical position. The conquest of this city was a positive step towards and meaning of ''life '' in the ''survival struggles '' of the early Turkish states of Anatolia. Danishmendname begins with conquest of Niksar. The work tells the heroics of Danishmendids in and around Niksar, and is a true masterpiece of Turkish epic tradition. Together with Battalname and Saltuknama, the epic Danishmendname constitutes the chronicle of Turkification period as of 11th century in Anatolia and Balkans. In this respect, Danishmendname is an outstanding work, not only as an epic, but also as a work of historiography.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
In general, studies on history and architecture in Turkey put Anatolian Seljuk Sultanate in the centre of early Anatolian Turkish culture. Accordingly, the researches concentrate on the heritage of Sultanate of Rum. As a result, heritage in Niksar is relatively less studied, even though the town was Danishmendid capital. Nevertheless, Danishmend and Seljuk works of 12th and 13th centuries in Niksar have been studied by notable scholars and theoreticians of history such as Gabriel Albert, İ. Hakkı Uzunçarşılı and Paul Wittek during early 20th century. Heritage in Niksar was treated by 19th century historian and archaeologist Max Van Berchem, as well as in Seyahatname by Evliya Çelebi in 17th century. Ottoman annuals provide information about cultural heritage and sociocultural continuity in Niksar during Ottoman era. As of 1970s, architectural and archaeological riches of Niksar became a more common theme for researches, and the role of Niksar in early Anatolian Turkish culture turned into a research object for academic theses. These studies manifest and prove the authenticity of cultural heritage of the town with regard to early Anatolian Turkish culture.
The 12th and 13th centuries Archaeological and monumental heritages of Niksar are most important features for the comprehension of early Turkish Beylik architecture in Anatolia. Besides, despite numerous earthquakes, Niksar was abandoned. This is why the locals kept on using a great deal of this heritage, which could thus be revived or survive. Extant monumental and archaeological structures constitute the most special examples of early Anatolian Turkish culture in utmost authenticity and integrity. Town of Niksar stands out as an centre with intense presence of mentioned architectural works.
In 1978 and 1979, General Directorate of Ancient Arts and Museums within Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued successive decrees so as to determine the ancient works and sites to be protected in Niksar. However, due to abundance of monumental and civil architecture examples, Ministry of Culture and Tourism made new observations in 1987. Most recently, pursuant to decree by Kayseri Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation Board in 1995, the scope of Class 1 and 3 Archaeological sites was expanded, and relevant monumental and civil architectural examples were registered. Registered by the foregoing decrees, the archaeological, monumental and urban heritage sites of Niksar are today protected pursuant to Code no. 2893 of Protection of Cultural and Natural Properties. Protection, utilisation and maintenance projects in all registered sites can be implemented only upon approval of Regional Preservation Council.
Comparison with other similar properties
Heritage of Niksar is important and privileged for early Anatolian Turkish culture, since the mentioned assets are reflected within actual urban texture. While Danishmendids conquered Niksar and made it their capital, many different cities in Anatolia changed hands between numerous states in the process. Consequently, urban texture in none of them reached our day, whereupon Niksar is a true exception. For example, Konya is authentic in terms of monumental structures from Anatolian Seljuk era; however, its urban texture or archaeological heritage does not comprise rich remains as Niksar. The case of Konya can also be observed in Zile, Tokat, Sivas, Kayseri and Malatya. Like Niksar, all of them were notable towns of Danishmendids, with intense construction movements, before falling under the rule of Anatolian Seljuk Sultanate and Ilkhanate, respectively. These towns host many Danishmend and – even more – Anatolian Seljuk monuments; nevertheless, they lack integrity between early social and economic elements and contemporary urban and social life. The intensity of monumental buildings and archaeological remains within Niksar citadel is not observed in its near neighbours such as Zile and Tokat citadels.
Like Zile and Tokat, Erzurum, Erzincan, Sivas, Divriği and Diyarbakir, are also significant cities of Beyliks Era in Anatolia. They do have universal monumental riches, but lack the urban texture to reflect the past (12nd and 13th centuries) sociocultural structure. Divriği Great Mosque and Hospital, built by Mengujekid Bey and his wife, is one of the most valuable heritages of early Turkish Beyliks in Anatolia; indeed, this complex is in UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1985. The building stands out with peerless stonework and reflects the high artistic level which Anatolian Turkish culture attained in a short time. Diyarbakir, in turn, is represented in UNESCO’s World Heritage List with the Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape. Both assets are, however, different from those in Niksar.
Ahlat, the capital of Shah-Armens Beylik as of 1071, stands out with Seljuk gravestones and mausoleum which are of extreme artistic value. These works possess superior universal value. However, these monumental works are also dissimilar to urban texture in Niksar. Mausoleum in Niksar are earlier structures with simpler forms, and thus differ from their counterparts in Ahlat. As for significant contemporaneous Artuqid cities such as Hasankeyf, Mardin and Harput, Hasankeyf stands out with Beylik architecture and urban texture. Nevertheless, wonderful cultural landscape of Hasankeyf has been formed since antiquity, by layers of various civilisations as well as unique geographical features; accordingly, Hasankeyf comprises different universal value than Niksar. Cultural heritage of Hasankeyf is so rich that its value extends far beyond than representing (mainly) early Anatolian Turkish culture.
Niksar can also be compared to Iznik, since the latter was Anatolian Seljuk capital for a while, before becoming the capital of Osmanoğlu Beylik. However, Iznik – former Nicaea – stands out with monumental and religious elements of Eastern Roman Empire. Anatolian Turkish culture in Iznik is nourished by Ottoman Empire rather than earlier periods. Birgi, capital city of Aydinids in Western Anatolia during 14th and 15th centuries, is a settlement with the most special housing structures of Turkish civilisation in Anatolia. Its archaeological heritage is believed to reflect the structural traits of Birgi during Beyliks era. However, this heritage is dated to a later period than Niksar in terms of Turkification. Birgi, on the other hand, comes to the forefront with 18th century houses already included in tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.