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Dakhmeh Rooted from proto-Zoroastrian Era


01 August 2006




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Yazd Tower of Silence (Click to enlarge)

LONDON, (CAIS) -- A Zoroastrian high priest said Dakhmeh (tower of silence) has had a very long history, adding the structure was for the first time built by the proto-Zoroastrians (pre-1800 BCE).

Mobed Fariborz Shahzadi asserted that the burial of the dead in Dakhmeh was never a religious ritual in the Zoroastrian faith.


Placing corps in the open air, contradicts the Zoroastrian divine laws. Polluting the sacred element, "air, earth, fire and water", is considered as great-sin and a corps is considered to be "nasa" (Av. nasu-), meaning the defilement; demon of corruption. 

Dakhmeh, also known as the Tower of Silence, is a place where the dead bodies were placed in the past. The flesh was scavenged by vultures and the bones were later buried.

In an interview with ISNA Persian Service, Mobed Shahzadi cited scientific studies based on which laying the dead in Dakhmeh was a method used in southern Siberia by Scythian of Iranian stock.

Shahzadi further stated that in those areas, according to Vandidad Scripture, ten months of the winter were very cold and two months of spring were moderately cold; so instead of burying their dead, the people placed the corps on hilltops within structures enclosed by walls. This was done to keep them away from wild animals.

“Laying the dead in Dakhmeh was not recommended by the Zoroastrians; rather, it was a ritual observed by the proto-Zoroastrian people,“ he said.

“During the Achaemenid and Arsacid dynastic eras, the dead were laid to rest in rock-tombs, large-jars and coffins were made of earthenware. It was only during the Sasanid dynastic rule when placing the dead in the Dakhmeh became popular. The ritual was practiced up until 40 years ago in Yazd. However, today the dead bodies are buried in a sealed coffins, with the head facing the east where the sun rises,“ he stated.







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Source: Iran Daily

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