EXHIBITION: OTTOMAN ARCADIA: The Hamidian Expedition to the Land of Tribal Roots (1886)

Esra Satıcı's picture
May 10, 2018 to September 30, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Architecture and Architectural History, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Urban History / Studies, Anthropology



Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED) in Istanbul is proud to present the exhibition “OTTOMAN ARCADIA: The Hamidian Expedition to the Land of Tribal Roots (1886)” from 10 May to 30 September 2018. It will showcase, for the first time, a three-volume set of photographic albums that were prepared following a decree by Abdülhamid II and were eventually gifted to Otto von Bismarck, the chancellor of Germany.

In 1886, Abdülhamid II commissioned more than a dozen photograph albums destined for the Yıldız Palace Library. They were the result of an imperial decree that sent a documentary commission of court officials and artists to the earliest Ottoman settlements. Soon thereafter, three of these spectacular albums were gifted by the sultan to Bismarck, in commemoration of the political rapprochement between the two empires at the end of the 19th century. These albums later made their way into the Ömer M. Koç Collection in 2017 and will be the focus of ANAMED’s exhibition curated by Bahattin Öztuncay, Ahmet Ersoy, and Deniz Türker.

The albums reflect the accumulative efforts of the expedition team, comprised of prominent photographers and painters of the era. Their primary task was to document in detail the early Ottoman settlements such as the empire’s first capital city Bursa, as well as other cities like Yenişehir, İznik, Söğüt, and Bozüyük.  The matted photographs and their elaborate handwritten notes in Ottoman Turkish and French provide detailed information not only on settlements, architectural structures, and the landscape, but also the semi-nomadic tribes with ancestral claims that resided in these regions.

“OTTOMAN ARCADIA: The Hamidian Expedition to the Land of Tribal Roots (1886)” contextualizes the expedition as a remarkable instance where photographya new visual technology of the 19th century—was merged with historical narratives to reconstruct dynastic myths and tribal memory. Visitors will be able to travel through the exhibition, following the itinerary of the expedition and by tracking the making of the albums through an array of archival documents.

In conjunction with the opening, an academic volume, OTTOMAN ARCADIA: The Hamidian Expedition to the Land of Tribal Roots (1886), edited by Bahattin Öztuncay and Özge Ertem, and published by ANAMED will be available. The book features articles by Selim Deringil, Reşat Kasaba, Beatrice St. Laurent, T.G. Otte, Berin Gölönü, and Sinan Kuneralp, in addition to articles by exhibition curators Ahmet Ersoy and Deniz Türker. A Turkish language edition of the volume will also be published in the upcoming months.


Ottoman Arcadia: Ther Hamidian Expedition to the Land of Tribal Roots (1886)

Ömer M. Koç Collection

10 May – 30 September 2018

ANAMED Gallery, Istanbul

Curators: Bahattin Öztuncay, Ahmet Ersoy, Deniz Türker

ANAMED Gallery Curator: Ebru Esra Satıcı

Exhibition Design: Yeşim Demir Pröhl, Demir Design


About Koç University ANAMED:

In 2005, the Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED) was established to support scientific research on Anatolia’s past. ANAMED is an international science, research, and cultural institution affiliated with Koç University, part of the Vehbi Koç Foundation. It constitutes a scientific platform for research and support of Turkey’s history, art history, archaeology, and all other related disciplines from prehistoric ages to the end of the Ottoman Empire. It also supports the development and proliferation of museum studies through a cultural heritage methodology. Every year, ANAMED provides doctoral and post-doctoral scholarships to about thirty researchers from Turkey and elsewhere to support their academic work. Since 2005, nearly 400 scientists from various countries have had the opportunity to work in the center. The main activities of the center include: awarding scholarships to domestic and international researchers specializing on Turkey’s cultural heritage, providing library services, organizing public symposia, conferences, workshops, setting up exhibitions, and producing publications on Anatolian civilizations.

Contact Info: 

Koç University Reserach Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED)


Gallery Curator: Ebru Esra Satıcı 

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