Respect from Nobel-winner Professor to “BAŞHOCALAR” (Head Instructors)
May 17, 2016

The Primes of our history of science are at ITU by “BAŞHOCALAR” exhibition

The third exhibition of “History Serial” of ITU RSG will be opened on Thursday, May 20. The exhibition “Mühendishane’nin Üç Başhocası”( Three Headmasters of Engineering School) will provide records regarding the primes of our history of science.

The opening ceremony will be at 17:00 pm with the participation of guests from the world of academia, art and bureaucracy. The opening of the exhibition will be carried out by Prof. Aziz Sancar who presented a historic proud to our country by winning the Nobel prize in chemistry.


The primes of the epoch

“Usûl-i Hendese” (Method of Geometry) that first introduced Euclidean Geometry to Turkish mathematicians after the translation of the modern mathematics into Turkish for the first time, is one of the books that will be on display. “Mecmûatü’l-Mühendisîn” (Journal of Engineer), the first comprehensive Turkish engineering book, is another remarkable book. Another important book Mecmua-i Ulum-i Riyaziye (Collected Works on Mathematical Sciences) is also considered essential since it presented the information on mathematics, physics, modern astronomy, biology, botany, zoology and mineralogy to science literature in Ottoman Turkish for the first time.

The book also includes “the first Turkish article” on modern chemistry published. Therefore, it is further meaningful to have Prof. Aziz Sancar, the Nobel prize winner in Chemistry, in the opening ceremony.

The mention of new information on electricity which is one of the important scientific developments of the period is also remarkable.


Mühendishane Kanunnamesi (Code for Engineering School) from 1800

The exhibition which will introduce three significant personas worked as “başhoca” (head instructor) at Mühendishane-i Berri-i Hümayun (Imperial School of Military Engineering), the foundation of ITU and one of the oldest technical universities in the World, and their works was prepared from the selection of ITU Collection of Rare Books that has more than 5 thousand publications. Mühendishane Kanunnamesi that was promulgated in the early 1800s is another piece to be exhibited.

3D Medal

The meticulous preparation process of the exhibition to introduce the life and academic studies of 3 Başhoca – Hüseyin Rıfkı Efendi (Tamânî), Seyyid Ali Paşa and Hoca İshak Efendi took approximately 5 months. The original copies of head instructors’ wWorks, the Ottoman-Turkish translations of some books and contemporary Turkish translations will be on display. Furthermore, the medal presented to Head Instructor İshak Efendi by the palace will be exhibited as 3D print by utilizing the drawing from the Ottoman Archive.

Open till June 5

The exhibition will be limited to 17 days since the pieces to be displayed are preserved under special air-conditioning conditions. The exhibition will be open till Sunday, June 5. ITU RSG can be visited every day free of charge between 08.00-20.00. The gallery in the Rectorate Building of ITU Ayazağa Campus welcomes all art-lovers.


What is Başhoca?

30 years after the foundation of ITU in 1773, the Ottoman Empire put Mühendishane Kanunnamesi (Code for Engineering School) into effect. On July 26, 1806 Hüseyin Rıfkı Tamânî was appointed as “Mühendishâne-i Berri-i Hümâyûn Serhocası” (Head Instructor of Imperial School of Military Engineering). This is the first head instructor title mentioned in official documents. With the regulations of the Code, the number of students was decreased to 40. Unlike today, the first grade was called grade and senior class was called the first grade. Each class had one instructor and assistant. The titles and salaries for instructors and their assistants, as well as their clothing and appointment prices were determined according to the class they lectured. The title “Başhoca” was only used for first grade, in other words for senior class, instructors.

During the term, the books, translations and knowledge of the instructors were evaluated for academic elevation. With the evaluations starting with the fourth grade, the instructors who proved their competence were appointed to the higher grade and finally after reaching the first grade they became Başhoca. The instructors with the title Başhoca were the ones who contributed to the scientific studies of the period the most. The academic management of the engineering school also belonged to Başhoca and there was a minister appointed as the palace inspector.

Hüseyin Rıfkı Efendi (Tamânî) between 1806-1817, Seyyid Ali Paşa between 1817-1830 and Hoca İshak Efendi between 1830-1836 were appointed as Başhoca. Seyyid Ali Paşa became the Başhoca for the second time between 1836-1845. In the same period, the title Başhoca was attached to ministry and then removed altogether. Especially, Hüseyin Rıfkı Tamânî and Hoca İshak Efendi brought many important studies to Turkish science and engineering history.

RSG History Serial

Istanbul Technical University has a very significant rare books collection. Within the context of “History Serial” two exhibitions were organized to bring these rare books to all who are interested. The first exhibition was “Selection from ITU Rare Books Collection” lasted for 15 days. The second one was the transformation of old goods to the living history via flower designs and was opened for 4 months.