OZDEMIRCI GOKTURK CEMETERY AND ITS BALBAL STONES
Özdemirci settlement is located in the boundary of Çivril town of Denizli province and is about 90 kms far away from Denizli & 35 kms from Çivril. It contains nine different villages founded on the skirts of Beşparmak Mountains with the altitude of 1154 m above the sea and the population of the settlement is about 2500. The village people used to settle down around Demirci water well in order to escape Delibaş bandit in old times and the settlement was ruled by Tatlar Aga in Afyon Dazkırı. The settlement was noted for later as Tatlar Demirci village and the name was changed into Özdemirci small town in 1972. It is not known when the settlement was established and historical sources say that the town was noted for its blacksmiths & millstone constructions. During the Ottoman period , the housing policy was based on to protect these careers & masters because we have about 700 high Balbal stones in Özdemirci cemetery today. Özdemirci cemetery is situated on highland plain and it contains more than 680 standing stones called Balbal from the height of 75cm to 5-7 metres. Most of them are in weight of 3-5 tonnes and some of them really have nice carvings & tamgas. The visitors can see so many Turkish nomadic tribes’ tamgas on the standing stones which explain the customs and traditions. The main tamga on the stones is “ Salur tamgası “ that is known as “ kaz ayağı-goose feet” in Turkish history. This tamga is very common and is still in use in large geographical area by nomad Turks all over the country. Another famous tamga can be seen called “ karaevli “ which has a tent symbol on that means the tribe where they live in fertile lands. The historical researches indicate that Christian Turks began settling down in Asia Minor & living with their families as tribes much before Islam was born so they set out Balbal stones and carvings their tamgas on in order to keep up with their burial traditions & customs. A big Balbal which is about 6-7m tall and 5-6 tonnes weight is ereceted in the middle of the cemetery as to connect the earth to the sky called “ Gök Direk “ and the other Balbals were erected around it. Özdemirci Gokturk cemetery reminds us Turks used to live in this regions much before Islam faith was accepted and are witnesses of old Turkish Burial Traditions. We can say that the whole cemetery with standing stones must be kept at once by Turkish government and the information on the stones must be revealed without any delay.