Zoroastrian “Towers of Silence”

The article “Towers of Silence” were once essential feature of Zoroastrian burial rituals was originally posted in the Tehran Times on December 19, 2016.

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Walkway towards the Tower of Silence located on the southern outskirts of the city of Yazd (Photo: Hassan Zohouri for Tehran Times).

Amongst enigmatic tourist destinations in Iran are two Zoroastrian ‘Towers of Silence’ that are nested on top of two lonely, barren hilltops in southern outskirts of the city of Yazd, which has long been a center of Zoroastrianism in the country.

Upward ingress-way towards a Dakhma in Yazd (Photo: hiholiday.ir).

In accordance with ancient Zoroastrian beliefs that accentuates on purity of the earth, dead bodies were not directly buried but left in these uncovered stone towers so that birds of prey could pick the bones clean.

Interior view of a Dakhma (Source: hiholiday.ir).

Narratives say that death rituals within Zoroastrianism is associated with the four natural elements of fire, earth, water and air and the relationship between good and evil forces.

Spectacular aerial view of a “Double-Dakhma” at Yazd (Source: hiholiday.ir).

At the foot of the hills stand several abandoned buildings, including a dried-up well, a water cistern and two minor wind towers. Nearby lies a modern Zoroastrian cemetery as well.

Such towers that are locally known as Dakhmas have not been used since the 1960s.