Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of an 800-year-old palace that may be the lost residence of Hulagu Khan (ca. 1217-1265), the grandson of Genghis Khan (1162-1227). The once magnificent palace in the Çaldıran district of eastern Turkey’s Van province could be the first known architectural remains dating to the Ilkhanate ruling.
“No Ilkhanid work has been encountered until now. In this sense, this study was a first,” said Ersel Çağlıtütuncigil, the excavation team leader from Izmir Katip Çelebi University in Turkey.
Inheriting his family’s legacy, Hulagu Khan was a Mongol ruler who conquered much of Western Asia. At the height of his reign Hulagu’s empire included territory in present-day Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Turkey. His grandfather, Genghis Khan, is renowned as one of the world’s most fearsome warriors who founded the largest contiguous empire in history.
Although historical records refer to a lavish palace and summer capital in the region, they fail to specify exact locations. Other researchers have cautioned that additional excavation is needed in order to definitively identify the owner of this palace.
Unfortunately, after years of looting, “the remains of the Khan’s palace complex [are] now fully ruined,” explained excavation team member Munkhtulga Rinchinkhorol. Yet the archaeological team still managed to uncover small glimpses into the palaces’ past glory, including shards of tricolor-glazed ceramics and pottery, porcelain, bricks, and glazed roof tiles. Some of the roof tiles are decorated with an s-like pattern, known as the svastika pattern or tamga, which was one of the many powerful symbols used by the Mongol Khans.
Michael Hope, chair of Asian Studies at Yonsei University in Korea, described the recent findings as “exciting”. He added “whether this is the palace of Hülegü described by Kirakos remains to be seen. I certainly wouldn’t rule it out, but I am hungrily waiting for more information.“