Institute for Mediterranean Studies

Recording and Studying the Islamic Tombstones of Ottoman Crete

Recording and Studying the Islamic Tombstones of Ottoman Crete

The original aim of the project was to record and study the tombstones of the Muslim population of Ottoman Rethymno. Over the years, however, the study of the Muslim gravestones of the Ottoman period was extended to the entire island of Crete.

Scholarly Supervision: Antonis Anastasopoulos

Research Team: Maria Anastasiadi, Yannis Atsalis, Michalis Georgelis, Evita Dandali, Eirini Kalogeropoulou, Petros Kastrinakis, Yannis Lamprakis, Katerina Limnidi, Marianna Liaskou, Melina Manoura, Efthimis Machairas, Marilena Bali, Giorma Mpano, Stelios Parlamas, Iordanis Panagiotidis, Ioanna Petroulidi, Stephanos Poulios, Marinos Sariyannis, Niki Spanou, Eleni Sphakianaki, Maria Tzoulaki, Rozalia Toulatou, Photeini Chaireti, Robin Durand, Vuk Masić, Roger Meier, Maria Varoucha, Nicolas Vatin, Thanasis Vionis, Carmen Vourvachaki, Zois Xanthopoulos, Dimitris Yatzoglou, Tea Yakovlevitz, Elif Yılmaz

Photographs: Efi Moraitaki
 

The original aim of the project was to record and study the tombstones of the Muslim population of Ottoman Rethymno. Over the years, however, the study of the Muslim gravestones of the Ottoman period was extended to the entire island of Crete.

The gravestones are monuments that are scattered mainly in the cities of Crete but also in smaller settlements and have a particular historical, archaeological and aesthetic value. The number of preserved gravestones, intact or - mainly - in fragments, amounts to several hundreds.

In the case of Rethymno, the tombstones are measured, described, photographed and numbered. Imprints of those gravestones bearing inscriptions are produced on a special filter paper. Then the inscriptions are read and transcribed in the Latin alphabet. The data collected is fed into a digital database.

Gravestones of other cities are studied on a case-by-case basis and are used as historical testimonies in the framework of papers in scientific conferences and scientific publications. The value of Ottoman gravestones as historical sources lies primarily in their provision of personalised information about the Muslim population of a region. Furthermore, they provide important information on issues of ideology and representations, social stratification, and even economy. The information they provide us is certainly better used in conjunction with information from other historical sources.

The part of the project that concerns Rethymno, was incorporated in the project Digital Crete, which was run by the Institute of Mediterranean Studies, and about 300 gravestones are freely accessible on the Internet through the website of Digital Crete.

The project is carried out in consultation with and with the permission of the local Committees of Antiquities of Crete, which have facilitated in every possible way its execution, a fact for which we owe them our gratitude.


Products of the project

  • Online database: http://digitalcrete.ims.forth.gr/tourkology_stele_search.php?l=2
    The database contains information about 300 gravestones, which can be searched through 29 available search fields. The fields offer information on the people mentioned in the gravestones (name, gender, age, occupation, birth, title, etc.), on their typology and classification (number, date, origin, column typology, etc.).
  • A. Anastasopoulos, "Girit'teki Osmanlı Mezar Taşları", in A. Nükhet Adıyeke and Tuncay Ercan Sepetcioğlu (ed.), Geçmişten Günümüze Girit. Tarih, Toplum, Kültür. Uluslararası Sempozyum. Bildiri Kitabı. 16/17/18 Ekim 2015, Kuşadası, Kuşadası: Kuşadası Belediyesi Yayınları 2017, 355-369.
  • Α. Anastasopoulos, G. Lamprakis, Μ. Bali, Ι. Panagiotidis, S. Parlamas, R. Durand, «Οθωμανικές μουσουλμανικές επιτύμβιες στήλες Ηρακλείου: στήλες που φυλάσσονται στη «Βίλα Αριάδνη» στην Κνωσό», Κρητικά Χρονικά 35 (2015), 153-210.
  • A. Anastasopoulos, "The Islamic Gravestones of Ottoman Rethymno: Preliminary Remarks and Thoughts about Them", in A. Anastasopoulos (ed.), The Eastern Mediterranean Under Ottoman Rule: Crete, 1645-1840. Halcyon Days in Crete VI, A Symposium Held in Rethymno, 13-15 January 2006, Rethymno: Crete University Press 2008, 317-329.
  • A. Anastasopoulos, "Islamic Tombstones of Rethymno, Crete", in Sefer Güvenç (ed.), Common Cultural Heritage: Developing Local Awareness concerning the Architectural Heritage left from the Exchange of Populations in Turkey and Greece, Istanbul: The Foundation of Lausanne Treaty Emigrants (LMV) 2005, 222-223.

Project Team

Marinos Sariyannis

Research Director, Department Coordinator of Ottoman History
Curriculum vitae

Antonis Anastasopoulos

Associate Professor
Department of History and Archaeology, University of Crete
Curriculum vitae