Hüseyin Şen (2014)
My first acquaintance with the Netherlands Institute in Istanbul was during my 6 month stay in Istanbul, where I and another colleague of mine (fellow student from Utrecht University) was invited by the Turkish Science Institution TÜBİTAK, to work on the new museum on history of Islamic science, which was being built in the Gülhane park. Dr. Fokke Gerritsen, the always smiling kind director of the institute, was very helpful for finding a place to stay for my colleague.
Since then, the NIT became a piece of Holland in Turkey for me, and during most of my visits to Turkey whether I stayed at the NIT or made use of its facilities or not, I have always tried to pay and enjoyed a visit to the NIT, sharing our reasons for the new visit to Turkey and our latest research and activities with the staff, while having a cup of coffee or lunch with the wonderful people at the institute.
The NIT is not just an archeological institute, it is a valuable network of Turkish and Dutch individuals, who are either working, studying or doing research in Turkey or simply have a love for the Netherlands, Turkey or in most cases, both. It deals with the present and the past of Turkey and provides a valuable platform for intellectual and cultural meeting and support in many ways, for which the diplomatic posts of the Netherlands such as the consulate are simply too formal and closed.
Since 2007 on several occasions, I was invited to give workshops and lectures at the institute, one on the astrolabe, a medieval astronomical instrument, one on the art of the Dutch artist M.C. Escher, who was inspired by the complex geometric patterns which he saw firsthand during his visit to Spain in 1936.
My last stay at the institute was as a fellow, for my PhD. Research on Taqi al-Din ibn Ma’ruf (d.1585), one of the most important scientists of Islamic civilization, a part of whose library happens to be in the University Library in Leiden.
Recently, Dr. Fokke Gerritsen pointed me to the brass plate on the wall left of the main entrance of the building in which the institute is house, and to my great surprise, I realized it was put there in honor of Taqi al-Din’, whose observatory was not very far from where now the institute is located.
I sincerely hope the institute will keep its door open and continue to provide the valuable support for present and future scholars as well.