The reign of Suleiman the Magnificent or Kanunî (lawgiver) Sultan Süleyman exemplified the best of what the Ottoman Empire had to offer – be it in the arts, architecture, economy or the military sphere. The so-called ‘Golden Age’ of the Ottoman Turkish realm sadly spiraled towards years of gradual decline with his death at the age of 71, just two days before the Turkish pyrrhic victory at the Battle of Szigetvár in Hungary. A group of Hungarian researchers (from the University of Pecs) have now claimed that they might have identified the long-lost tomb of Sultan Suleiman. Standing as a testament to Ottoman dominance in the medieval Old World, the tomb designed as a rectangular building, is fittingly located near Szigetvár, in southern Hungary.
According to contemporary sources, the death of Suleiman the Magnificent was kept as a secret for 48 hours from most Ottoman forces engaged in the Siege of Szigetvár fortress; after which his son Selim II could ascend the throne. And while the sultan’s body was ceremoniously taken to Istanbul, for its final resting place inside housed at the Süleymaniye Mosque, his heart and internal organs were salvaged to be buried in a tomb that might have been hidden till now.
The archaeologists first got wind of this inconspicuous tomb from local legends that talked about Turkish ruins and Ottoman artifacts in the proximate area near the village of Turbékpuszta (close to Szigetvár) encompassing a vineyard. The researchers then made use of technologies like remote sensing and geophysical mapping to detect remnants of buildings – and they were found to be oriented in the south-east direction towards Mecca.
Even from the etymological perspective, the Turbék component of the name Turbékpuszta is derived from the Turkish word ‘turbeh’ which denotes a tomb. Now according to historical traditions, the settlement was fueled by its designation as a shrine to Sultan Süleyman’s tomb in later part of 16th century AD. Unfortunately by the 1680’s, the association of the town with an Islamic religious ambit was probably not tolerated by the Hapsburg authority, and hence they ordered the shrine’s untimely demolition.
It was in this year’s October that the archaeologists proceeded with their excavation, based on their previous detection work. And their endeavor bore fruit, with the researchers able to unearth a complete building with its rectangular plan, extant walls made of bricks and stones, and dedicated spaces including a small mosque and a dervish monastery. The ‘piece de resistance’ of this hidden structure however pertains to a substantially big central room (of 676 sq ft area) draped in stone tiles and decorated with Ottoman motifs that correspond to the grander Suleiman’s mausoleum in Istanbul. Unfortunately, the archaeologists also came across a gaping pit in the middle of the space, suggesting that robbers made it inside the building before them.
In any case, the Hungarian researchers are confident of their find. As they said –
Currently everything suggests that this building could have been Suleiman’s tomb.However, in order to be able to assert this with 100 percent certainty, further examinations and the excavations of the other surrounding buildings are necessary