Ahlahshahs were the 11th-12th century rulers of an Anatolian Turkish Beylik of the first period founded after the Battle of Manzikert, and centered in Ahlat on the northwestern shore of the Lake Van in Eastern Anatolia.

The dynasty is sometimes also called "Sökmenli" in reference to the founder of the principality, Sökmen el Kutbî, literally "Sökmen the Slave", one of the commanders of the Great Seljuk Alp Arslan. Ahlatshah Sökmenli should not be confused with the Artuklu dynasty branch of Sökmenli which ruled in Hasankeyf during approximately the same period.

Another title Sökmen and his descendants assumed, as heirs to the local Armenian princes according to Clifford Edmund Bosworth, was Shah-i Arman, often rendered as Ermenshahs ("Ermenşahlar").

The Beylik was founded by the Turkish slave commander Sökmen who took over Ahlat ("Khliat" or "Khilat") in 1100. Ahlatshahs were closely tied to Great Seljuk institutions, although they also followed independent policies like the wars against Georgia in alliance with their neighbors to the north, the Saltuklu. They also acquired links with the branch of the Artuklu dynasty based in Meyyafarikin (now Silvan), becoming part of a nexus of Turkish principalities in Jazira and Eastern Anatolia.

The Ahlatshahs reached their brightest period under the fifty-seven year reign of Sökmen the Second (1128 - 1185). He was married to a female relative (daughter or sister) of the Saltuklu ruler Saltuk. [Cahen, p. 107] Since Sökmen II was childless, the beylik was seized by a series of slave commanders after his death. In 1207, the beylik was taken over by the Ayyubids who had long coveted Ahlat and had come to the city at the invitation of the last Sökmenli ruler.

The Ahlatshahs left a large number of historic tombstones in and around the city of Ahlat. Local administators are currently trying to have the tombstones included in UNESCO's World Heritage List [ cite web | url = http://www.losangeleschronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=26515 (article)| title = On the Roads of Anatolia - Van|author=Yüksel Oktay| publisher= [http://www.losangeleschronicle.com Los Angeles Chronicle] | access date=|language=English ] , where they are currently listed tentatively. [ cite web | url = http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1401/ (List) | title = Tentative World Heritage Sites|author=| publisher=UNESCO| access date=|language=English ]



* Claude Cahen, "Pre-Ottoman Turkey"

External links

* [http://books.google.com/books?id=mKpz_2CkoWEC&pg=PA197&vq=arman&dq=new+islamic+dynasties&ie=ISO-8859-1&output=html&sig=ZVUrB947H6iGenoxDC6MtqLEea0 (limited preview)] cite book | title = The New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Manual ISBN 0748621377|author= Clifford Edmund Bosworth|publisher=Edinburgh University Press| year= 2004|language=English

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