Archaeologists seek Suleiman the Magnificent's 'lost heart'

Possibly buried under church; died in Hungary in 1566

24 September, 13:14

    A portrait of Sultan Suleiman A portrait of Sultan Suleiman

    (ANSAmed) - ANKARA - Despite efforts by Turkish and Hungarian archaeologists, the 'lost heart' of Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent has not yet been found, but is believed to be buried under a church in the Hungarian city Szigetvar.

    This was where the famous Ottoman sultan known as Al-Qanuni ('The Lawgiver') died at age 70 on September 6, 1566, during the war against Hapsburg emperor Maximilian II. His body was subsequently taken to Istanbul, where it was buried in the mausoleum of the Sinan's Suleymaniye Grand Mosque next to his favourite wife, the former slave Roxelana also known as 'Hurrem'. His heart and internal organs were instead extracted in Hungary, where they put into a small chest and buried in Szigetvar. All traces of the chest were lost amid the depredations of war and natural calamities over the centuries. The Turkey of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the 'new sultan' of Ankara and staunch admirer of the country's Ottoman past, would now like to find it before 2016 for the 450th anniversary of the death of the sultan, who also bore the titles of Padishah, Caliph and - as he was considered heir to the Byzantine emperors - Basileus and Caesar of Rome. A team of Turkish and Hungarian archaeologists and historians have begun searching for Suleiman's 'lost heart' in the zone of Szigetvar. Many of them believe that it might be underneath the Szuz Maria (Saint Mary) church, which is thought to have been built over a small mausoleum with the sultan's remains. Nothing has been found thus far. The Hungarian historian Erica Hancz told Hurriyet that the search will now be extended to a neighbouring group of houses owned by vine growers, where Ottoman buildings are believed to have stood in the sixteenth century. Near the tomb was a mosque, a lodge used by whirling dervishes, a barracks and other Ottoman structures, said University of Pecs researcher Norbert Pap. Suleiman has regained his popularity across the Mediterranean region in recent years due to the Turkish TV soap opera 'Mutesem Yuzyil' ('The Magnificent Century'), in which Roxelana is the main character. Despite criticism from Erdogan - who deems it too frivolous and focused on sex and the loves and pleasures of the Grand Sultan, and not enough on his vast territorial gains and role as statesman - the serial is enjoying resounding success across the entire Arab world and the Balkans.

    Solving the mystery of the 'lost heart' would only add to the 'Suleiman craze'. (ANSAmed).

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