A Not Well-Known Project in the Ottoman State: Abdurrahman Aga's Shipbuilding Activity in 1700 (Ah.1111) and Some Evaluations

Creative Commons License


BELLETEN, vol.84, no.300, pp.623-665, 2020 (AHCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 84 Issue: 300
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.37879/belleten.2020.623
  • Journal Name: BELLETEN
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, L'Année philologique, American History and Life, Historical Abstracts, Index Islamicus, Linguistic Bibliography, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.623-665
  • Keywords: Ottoman River Fleet, Birecik, Abdurrahman Aga, Firkata, the Euphrates
  • Ankara Haci Bayram Veli University Affiliated: Yes


Throughout history Birecik occupied an important place in river transport on the Euphrates to Basra. It maintained this important position after coming under the rule of the Ottomans. Particularly in the conflicts taking place in the region during the Ottoman period, shipbuilding demands came from the capital city for the purpose of military transport from Birecik. However, from falling under the Ottoman rule until the 18th century, none of the shipbuilding activities in Birecik was as organised and big as the project undertaken by Abdurrahman Aga. The greatness of Abdurrahman Aga's project did not stem from the number of ships to be built, but their size. This study provides a comprehensive examination of the shipbuilding activities undertaken by Abdurrahman Aga, a remarkable process, on the basis of the ledgers he kept personally. Thus, the study presents the details of a river navy work in a district on the banks of the Euphrates in eastern Ottoman lands. But more importantly, the study provides an in-depth analysis of the data obtained in this process, and addresses the question of why the execution of this project was started by Abdurrahman Aga in such a critical time. Also by comparing the data gathered from the analysis, the study discusses the development of shipbuilding activities in Birecik in the historical process as well as the role of Birecik Shipyard in this period.