Ertug Linseed Oil and Oil Mills in Central Turkey, 2000

Ertug Linseed Oil and Oil Mills in Central Turkey
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  Linseed Oil and Oil Mills in Central Turkey Flax/Linum and Eruca, Important Oil Plants ofAnatoliaAuthor(s): Füsun ErtuǧSource: Anatolian Studies, Vol. 50 (2000), pp. 171-185Published by: British Institute at Ankara Stable URL: . Accessed: 15/05/2014 13:00 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at  .  . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact  .  British Institute at Ankara  is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to  AnatolianStudies. This content downloaded from on Thu, 15 May 2014 13:00:39 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions  Linseed oil and oil mills in central Turkey Flax/Linum and Eruca, important oil plants of Anatolia* Fuiisun rtug Bodrum Research Centre for Useful Plants Introduction This article is a preliminary case-study concerning the importance of flax/Linum and Eruca as oil plants in central Anatolia. Linseed oil ('beziryagi') was produced from both Linum and Eruca seeds, and this oil was used in Anatolian culinary culture, in addition to olive, sesame, cotton, poppy, sunflower, hazel, Cephalaria, safflower and hackberry oils. Linseed oil was also used in oil lamps, to oil wooden-wheeled carts and to rub on the skins of water-buffalo. Both linseed oil and flax seeds were widely used in folk medicine. The production of linseed oil may have started thousands of years ago in central Anatolia. Both plants are native to Anatolia, and flax seeds have been found at several Neolithic sites. The earliest historical documents concerning linseed oil mills ('bezirhane') are Ottoman tax records from 1500-1. Until the 1970s there were still several oil mills in the Aksaray area producing inseed oil during the winter. The residue was used as fodder for draft animals. With the modemisation of agriculture, nd the increased availability of electricity o villages, as well as the development of the road system and trans- portation, inseed oil lost its importance and the oil mills were abandoned. The cultivation and harvesting of oil plants and the production of oil is important o archaeology because the identification of oil bearing plants, oil lamps and the interpretation f various uses of grinding stones are all still at an early stage. Ethno-archaeological studies provide important clues for the interpretation of both archaeo-botanical remains and equipment found in archaeological excavations. I gathered the basic information relevant to the production of linseed oil during my ethno-archaeological studies in Aksaray province n 1994-5. Although inseed oil production stopped 20 to 25 years ago, sufficient * A version of this article was first published n Turkish n TUBA-AR Turkish Academy of Sciences Journal of Archae- ology) 1 (1998): 113-27, and has been completely revised. information was gathered rom informants who were still available and had worked n the mills. In addition, I have combined this information with the related archaeo- logical, historical and ethnographic literature. More information is needed from historians, archaeologists, and ethnographers o complete this case-study and to answer the questions it raises. Flax/Linum nd Eruca together with other oil plants such as olive, sesame, cotton, poppy, sunflower, hazel, Cephalarial, safflower2 and hackberry3 were important in traditional Anatolian cuisine. In the province of Aksaray fig 1), central Anatolia, Linum usitatissimum L. 1 Cephalaria syriaca (L.) Schrader: pelemir' or 'melemir' is an annual plant with blue flowers commonly seen as a weed in fields in central Anatolia. Its seed contains 21 -6% of fixed oil, used in the leather industry for rubbing on animals and as an additive to linseed oil (Baytop 1984: 351; Oguz 1976). It was commonly planted in central Anatolia until the 1930s (Morrison 1939), but is no longer cultivated. It was reported as being planted both in Kayseri and in Erzincan or its oily seeds, and the residue was used as fodder (Yazicioglu et al 1978). 2 Safflower: Carthamus inctorius L.: 'aspir' is an annual plant with yellow flowers. It was planted in central and western Anatolia for its flowers, which were used as a source of red dye, and for its oily seeds. Its cultivation s now very rare n central Anatolia. The seeds contain 28-40% fixed oil. Baytop mentions that it was used as lamp oil in the dye industry and in folk medicine as a pain reliever rubbed on externally (1984: 170), and suggests that it was not used in cooking because the oil is bitter. Knowles reports that he observed safflower oil production n Eskisehir n the 1960s, and the villagers reported that its oil is superior o sunflower, inseed and poppy seed oils when it is used immediately, but that within a couple of months the oil develops undesirable lavours (1967: 156). It was also used as edible oil in Egypt, and in both these cases the residue was used as fodder (Knowles 1967: 156). 3 Celtis: 'citlembik' fruits are also used for oil (Oguz 1976: 624; Erciyes et al 1989), but this is not reported n central Anatolia. In the aceramic Neolithic settlement of A?ikli H6yiik in Aksaray, layers of desiccated Celtis fruit stones have been found (Esin et al 1991), and they may have been used in oil production. 171 This content downloaded from on Thu, 15 May 2014 13:00:39 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions  Anatolian Studies 2000 Fig la. Map of Turkey. Towns mentioned n the text Fig lb. Map of the study area, Aksaray. Villages with 'bezirhane' 172 This content downloaded from on Thu, 15 May 2014 13:00:39 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions  Ertug ('zeyrek')4 and Eruca sativa (Lam.) Miller ('izgin'), were cultivated or their oily seeds and for the production of oil. In times of scarcity, Sinapis arvensis ('hardal otu') seeds were also used to produce oil. All three oils were called 'bezir yagl' (linseed oil) in Anatolia. 'Bezr' is Arabic for 'seed', but the word is used in Anatolia to refer to oil from flax seeds as well as to the oil produced by oil mills from the other two seeds. Privately owned oil mills in Anatolia were called 'bezirhane'. Although linseed oil has many industrial uses5, t was produced in central Anatolia for cooking, for lamp oil and to grease the axles of wooden-wheeled carts, as well as to lubricate he skins of water-buffaloes. The residual oil cakes were used for animal fodder, especially for draft animals. Linum and Eruca seeds were both used to produce 'beziryagi', but the oil produced from flax was much preferred or cooking. Both linseed oil and flax seeds were widely used in folk medicine to relieve pain, heal wounds and as an expectorant Baytop 1984; Ertug- Yara? 1997; Fujita et al 1995). In central Anatolia the production of 'beziryagi' may have started several thousand years ago. Both plants are native to Anatolia, and flax seeds have been found in several Neolithic sites. Flax was used as a fibre in prehistoric imes throughout Europe and the Middle East (Barber 1991; 1994). When identifying carbonised eeds from several excavations, t is difficult to tell whether he flax was planted for its fibre or for its oil; and if for oil whether for food or for lamp oil. To test these various possibilities, we must know how the seeds or the fibres were processed, and what kind of tools were used. Ethnographic observations related to the cultivation, harvesting and processing of several oil-bearing plants may contribute o a better understanding f their uses in the past. Because of rapid modernisation n Anatolia after the 1950s, opportunities or obtaining this kind of information are becoming very rare. A brief background to the research During my ethno-archaeological ieldwork in Aksaray from 1994 to 1995 (Ertug-Yara? 1997), I observed various mills called 'bezirhane' and 'bulgurhane'. The latter are also called 'dink' or 'seten' in various parts of 4 'Zeyrek' r 'zegrek' s a name ommonly sed for flax seeds throughout entral Anatolia TDK: 4363; Baytop 1994). In general, lax s known as 'keten'. 5 Linseed il is a drying il, and orms a hard ilm on exposure to the air (Renfrew 985). For his reason t is widely used n the industrial roduction f various dyes, varnishes, inoleum and nks. Poppy and safflower ils are also drying ils but n Anatolia all three oils are used for cooking. Linseed oil, in small quantities, s use for cooking in Iraq (Renfrew 1985). Anatolia, and there are several notes about these 'bulgur' (cracked wheat) mills in the ethnographic literature (Hillman 1984; Ko?ay 1951; University Bern 1971). I could not find any information about 'bezirhane', although until very recently they played an important role in local economies. My interest increased when I found the term 'bezirhane' in 16th century historical documents. The earliest records concerning linseed oil mills are in the 1500-1 Ottoman ax records for Karaman province which at that time included Aksaray and Konya. A linseed oil mill was counted as part of the financial assets of the Aksaray religious foundations ('Vakif') (Konyali 1974: 532). In the tax records for the reigns of Sultan Selim I (1512-20) and Kanuni Sultan Siileyman (1520- 66), oil mills were taxed in various villages of the Aksaray district6, as well as in the town of Aksaray (Konyali 1974: 645). In the 1882 record of 'Salname' of the Konya region, there were 28 'bezirhane' in the Aksaray district (Konyali 1974: 102). However there is no indication of 'bezirhane' in other central Anatolian towns such as Konya, Nigde, Nev?ehir and Kayseri (Konyali 1964). I have however been told that until the 1930s a 'bezirhane' was operating at Karapinar n Konya province (ca. 80km east of Konya)7. There is also a village named 'Bezirhane' on the Aksaray-Ankara oad, 30km from Ankara, which probably took its name from an existing oil mill. Further o the east, a guild of 'bezirci' (linseed oil producers or traders) n the town of Sivas is recorded n the tax records of the reign of Mahmud II (1808-38). There were three 'bezirci' shops, one owned by Muslims and two by non-Muslims. According to Evliya Celebi's travel records from the 1650s, a section of Sivas was 6 In towns such as Demirci, Agacli (new name: Giilagac), Eskinos new name: Uzunkaya) nd hlara here are no records of linseed oil mills n the times of Sultan elim (1512-20) and Kanuni Sultan Suleyman 1520-66). However, here s a tax record for the village of K6stiik/G6stuk new name: Dogantarla) n the Selim I period hat 25 akge', and 12 akge' in the Kanuni eriod, were aken rom he 'bezirhane' s a tax. Taxes of '25 ak9e' and 50 akge' were aken rom Selime and Kizilkaya villages after the Kanuni period (Ba?bakanlik Ottoman Archives, stanbul, Books of 'Tahrir Defterleri' os 40 and 55, read by Professor ejat G6yiinq nd Professor ngin Akarli). 7 Naim Aydinbelge b. 1931) n Karapinar old me in 1997 hat they called hese mills 'dayhane', nd hat hey used o play on the mill stones s children. The mill was working n his father's time. Both flax and Eruca were commonly cultivated n Karapinar ntil the 1970s, and sold to Aksaray. Aydinbelge remembers rom his childhood hat his mother made small lamps for linseed oil out of mud, and that these were used for night time illumination. 173 This content downloaded from on Thu, 15 May 2014 13:00:39 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
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