841-year-old war mystery solved

BURAK ERDEM ÇELIK
ANKARA
Published
Lake Eğirdir
Lake Eğirdir

Important progress has been made in determining the exact location of the Battle of Myriokephalon, also known as the Battle of Myriocephalum, fought between the Byzantine Empire and Seljuk Turks. Specialized ground penetrating radar (GPR) is being used to find the 841-year-old triumph that made Anatolia Turkish land.

New information and documents placing the battle near Lake Eğirdir in Isparta province were uncovered as a result of Ramazan Topraklı's expert research. The findings will be presented to the public after a workshop to be held by the Turkish Historical Society (TTK) in April 2018.

New information and findings

The Byzantine Empire's army was defeated after the battle between Emperor Manuel I Komnenos and the Seljuk Sultan Kilij Arslan II on Sept. 17, 1176, and the domination of Turks in the Anatolian region became definite. Finding the exact location of the battle, which was a strategic triumph for Turks, has proven difficult as information about the battle is limited. Many experts have made various claims and offered opinions about its location. While some said it was near the Düzbel Passage in Denizli province or the Beyşehir Bağırsak Pass, others asserted that the true place was Karamıkbeli, located between the Afyon and Isparta provinces. Expert Ramazan Topraklı's thesis about the matter brought forth new information and findings to help pinpoint the battle's exact location.

Reference to Lake Eğirdir

The attention-catching thesis implies that the Battle of Myriokephalon was fought around Lake Eğirdir in Isparta, but pinpointing an accurate location proved difficult due to the region's gradual geographical changes. Topraklı stressed that Lake Eğirdir was actually two bodies of water in the past with a road in between. It has been argued that Topraklı's idea suggesting that the battle-bound Byzantine army used this road fit with the topographic descriptions found in the primary sources on the topic. Emperor Manuel's letter to English King Henry II also supports these claims. In his letter the emperor wrote, "War cries were heard as soon as we entered Turkish lands." The Byzantine-Seljuk borders had yet to be defined in the 12th century, but it is believed they fell east of Denizli. This evidence supports the idea claiming that the battle was not fought in interior regions, like Konya province, but around the region of lakes in the Gelendost district.

Important data is expected to surface soon for determining the battle's exact location thanks to the work being done with the GPR. The discovery will be announced during "The Location of the Battle of Myriokephalon Workshop" of the TTK in April.

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