Hollanda Araştırma Enstitüsü  -  Nederlands Instituut in Turkije

18th century Ottoman water infrastructure

Alexander Wielemaker (2013)

The NIT was the operating base for my fieldwork that consisted of systematically exploring Galata, Tophane, Cihangir, Beyoğlu, and Kasımpaşa in search of some forty fountains that were built simultaneously between 1730-33. My aim was to demonstrate that the systematic implementation of Ottoman water infrastructure funded by the sultan, members from the dynasty, and state officials did not only benefit the (Muslim) people and legitimize personal authority through charity, but also consolidated the very power balance among the ruling elite.

My stay at the NIT strengthened the interdisciplinary character of my research as I came in touch with archeologist Maurice de Kleijn. His introduction to Quantum GIS (a geographical information system) allowed me to investigate the historical development of the neighborhoods in which I did my fieldwork, and accurately trace the fountains that were lost or demolished over time.

I consider my research master thesis (the very reason I stayed with the NIT) to be a good start of my academic career, and the NIT in the shape of a "connecting" institute and financial sponsor contributed to the enrichment of my education.