Azerbaijan International

Autumn 2006 (14.3)
Pages 40-63

Maiden Tower
Secrets of the Maiden Tower:
What They Reveal about Early Man's Beliefs
(Scroll for article)

by Ronnie Gallagher and Betty Blair



Photo Essay
1. Cupmarks
in South Easterly Direction in Azerbaijan
2. Sacrifical Holes in North Easterly Direction in Azerbaijan
3. Maiden Tower in Photos
4. Maiden Tower Exterior
5. Maiden Tower Interior
6. Maiden Tower in Music
7. Mud Volcanoes
8. Earth Goddess Monument in Azerbaijan

Baku's most predominant landmark - The Maiden Tower - continues to beg for more research into its origins and function. Could there possibly be links to a much earlier beginning for this monument than archaeologists have yet to suggest? Could it be that the design of Maiden Tower itself acts as an observatory and incorporates man's awareness of celestial movements, particularly the sun? Is there a religious intent in the design of the tower which predates the great religions of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam? These questions are explored here in light of similarities found that relate to other intriguing Megalithic monuments scattered around the countryside in Azerbaijan.

If the assumptions and deductions in this article are correct, this would suggest that additional archaeological and astro-archaeological research is needed. Indeed, closer examination of Maiden Tower may turn up some very startling facts about Early Man and civilization, which could have implications far beyond Azerbaijan.

Careful observation of the heavens, particularly the pathway of the sun, is as old as mankind. In Azerbaijan there is evidence that early man observed celestial movements and incorporated them into his religious and cultural practices. This is one of the possible conclusions that can be reached from observing the objects made by inhabitants of the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age some 3000-5000 years ago.

In exploring the countryside, we (Ronnie Gallagher, Abbas Islamov, and Betty Blair) have observed many fascinating examples of ancient handicraft - rock shelters, stone circles, burial mounds (kurgans), chambered cairns and cart ruts - to name a few. [See Side Bar for articles].

But in addition to these archaeological findings, a wide range of rock carvings have been discovered that share the common feature of being oriented towards a specific direction. While the meaning of such carvings has yet to be determined, evidence would suggest that they were oriented to sunrise events and the heavens.

This observation has encouraged further research into the practices of ancient man, leading to some tentative conclusions that may shed light on the evolution of religious traditions and belief systems that may have been followed for thousands of years in the region.

In comparing the rock carvings found throughout the countryside to the architectural design of Baku's Maiden Tower (known as "Giz Galasi" in Azeri), it has become apparent that there are points of similarity, suggesting that the tower incorporated elements of an early belief system. By viewing the tower through the lens of prehistory, some of its enigmatic features begin to make more sense and, perhaps, become more amenable to interpretation.

Above (3): Maiden Tower (Giz Galasi) is Baku's most distinguished landmark. The design of this monument, both in terms of its shape as well as the carefully situated openings in the tower wall may point to an earlier date for construction than archaeologists have yet suggested, possibly predating Zoroastrianism. The authors of this article are calling for much-needed astro-archaeological studies. Indeed, closer examination of Maiden Tower may turn up some very startling facts about Early Man and civilization, which could have implications far beyond Azerbaijan. Photo: Gallagher
Left (3): Maiden Tower (Giz Galasi) is Baku's most distinguished landmark. The design of this monument, both in terms of its shape as well as the carefully situated openings in the tower wall may point to an earlier date for construction than archaeologists have yet suggested, possibly predating Zoroastrianism. The authors of this article are calling for much-needed astro-archaeological studies. Indeed, closer examination of Maiden Tower may turn up some very startling facts about Early Man and civilization, which could have implications far beyond Azerbaijan. Photo: GallagherIt has also become apparent that the Maiden Tower has been modified through time for practical purposes. For example, floors have been added on various levels inside the Tower to facilitate tourists to better view and ascend to the roof.

The original tower seems to have simply been a hollow structure, possibly even without a roof.

By mentally removing the floors and viewing Maiden Tower literally and figuratively in a different light, it becomes evident that it is a remarkable construction and technological feat, reflecting the importance of the sun, sunlight, and water and, thus, connecting it to ancient beliefs and traditions.

Close inspection also reveals that the Tower has also been built upon the foundation of a more ancient structure.

This suggests that the Tower developed out of pre-existing cultural practices, incorporating ancient design features and that it was constructed primarily for religious purposes.

While the information presented is tenuous and difficult to prove, it is valuable to introduce these ideas to readers, scholars and the scientific community for further consideration. In doing this, we hope this article will serve as a catalyst for further study and debate.

Clearly, much work still needs to be done to understand links between the ancient rock carvings and Maiden Tower. For now, this review looks at the carvings in relation to the Tower, and explores other relevant historical information. If this presentation serves as an impetus for further research and archaeological study, then we will consider it to be a success.

Rock Carvings
Ancient man was well aware of the movement of celestial bodies in the heavens. This is reflected in the orientation and construction of ancient monuments, such as stone circles and burial mounds or "kurgans", where cardinal point alignment has been observed. For pastoralists and early agriculturalists, the movement of the sun as it rises throughout the year on its annual journey along the horizon was essential, for it brought with it seasonal changes that directly influenced sustenance of life.

For example, the Summer Solstice (June 21st) marks the most northerly point of the sun's journey, giving us the longest day, while mid point to the east represents both Spring (March 21st) and Autumnal (September 21st) Equinoxes - where days and nights are of equal length. The Winter Solstice (December 21st) highlights the shortest day - the lowest point of the sun in the sky in the northern hemisphere and heralds the onset of a new annual cycle, marked by its sunrise appearing in the southeast.

Early Man also carefully observed both nighttime and sunset for burial reasons with bodies facing to the west - the direction associated with the "hereafter".

It is against this background that a range of rock carvings in Azerbaijan has been discovered - some, perhaps, new to science - that reflect the importance of the solar cycle. While little can be said at this time about the meaning of these carvings, some comments can be made where functional intent is considered plausible. For convenience, the various types of carvings are named according to their features.

Multi-Hole Arrays
Three examples are shown of a 12-hole circular pattern, discovered in two places near the villages of Yeni Turkan (Photos 1 and 2) on the Absheron Peninsula near Baku, and close to the Kanizdagh Mud Volcano (Photo 5) just north of Gobustan. Each array consists of 10 peach-sized indentations or "Cup Marks" in an outer ring and two central cup marks, which seem to have been used for some sort of counting function. In each example, a line may be drawn through the two inner Cup Marks to connect to the outer cups. In both cases, that line indicates a northwest to southeast (NW/SE) orientation.

Above: Map shows site locations of archaeological interest that are mentioned in this article. Photo: Google Map

Above: Map shows site locations of archaeological interest that are mentioned in this article. Photo: Google Map

Another array (Photo 6) was discovered on a limestone outcrop near the village of Nardaran on the Absheron Peninsula. This has 10 Cup Marks arranged in two rows of four, with two holes on either side. Curiously, it also reflects a NW/SE alignment.

Photo 7 from a "Stone Circle" at Shuvalan shows a complex array of small indentations and interconnecting channels. This array bears a marked resemblance to the ancient Near East board game known as "Hounds and Jackals"
1examples of which have been found as "grave goods" in ancient Egypt, Iraq and Palestine. Another example located at Hajigabul (Photo 8) is also of interest for it is associated with a much larger Cup Mark or "Pot Hole", sometimes referred to as "ballauns". Such ballauns may be found in megalithic sites across Europe and the Near East. Their use is largely unknown but they are thought to have held "holy water" and to have been associated with religious rituals. Some ballauns, for instance, have been adopted by early Christian missionaries and used as baptismal fonts. Both the Shuvalan and Hajigabul carvings have a NW/SE orientation.

The circular array shown in Photo 9 is located at a Neolithic settlement site near the village of Gobu, just south of Baku, on top of a rock shelter or cave. This Cup Mark array consists of 18 peripheral Cup Marks and 4 internal ones and may have served as a sort of calendar.

Next to this array lies a larger Pot Hole (Photo 9), which, if viewed from the center, orients the complex to the southeast. These all are situated within a fine example of water collection channels and a cistern system. The cistern has a platform inside giving easy access to water and is large enough for an adult to sit in or even to bathe.

Then, as now, water was obviously very important for survival, and many examples of ancient ingenuity used for collecting rainwater have been found. But just as water is vital for life and hygiene, the Gobu cistern and petroglyph arrays appear closely connected. Together they may have provided a ritual or ceremonial function.

Southeast Alignment
The main point to note about multi-hole arrays is that many of them display a consistent northwest to southeast alignment - something that is unlikely to have happened by mere chance. As such, there must have been an underlying reason for this. Presumably, the intended direction was not to the northwest, but more significantly, to the southeast - the direction of the sunrise at Winter Solstice.

V-Shaped Carvings
However, the direction of the carvings is not always to the southeast. There is a different type of carving that for convenience may be called a "V-shaped Sacrificial Hole". The "V" here represents two limbs that orient to the east and northeast (Photos 10 and 11). Each object has a hollowed out cavity at the apex of the "V". Several of these carvings were found on the Absheron Peninsula near the village of Yeni Turkan though, sadly, they no longer exist as they were destroyed in 2003 by blasting caused by a nearby limestone quarry.

At first, it was thought these carvings might just be examples of erosion, but it became apparent after some 14 examples were discovered in a localized area, the size of a soccer field, that they, indeed, had been manmade. Perhaps, they were simple storage containers used to keep food or water cool from the sun. If so, then it might be expected that we would have found other similar carvings elsewhere, but so far we haven't.

Another possibility, in keeping with an explanation about the worship of nature is that these carvings were constructed at a communal "holy site", where offerings of food were placed in the cavities to honor the "Earth Goddess" perhaps at springtime and summer harvest. Alignment of the "V"-shaped channels to the east (Spring or Autumn Equinox) and northeast (Summer Solstice) is relevant and makes sense if the limbs acted as pointers, serving as a simple calendar with respect to the sunrise and, thus, heralding the time for ritual ceremonies.

Earth Goddess
The concept of Earth Goddess was very powerful and quite widespread in early societies. There is much evidence in archaeology at Neolithic monuments that the Earth Goddess was worshipped. Consider the 5,000-year-old long barrow burial mounds of Norn's Trump and West Kennet in England, the passage grave at Newgrange, or the megalithic sun-worshipping temples of Malta. These burial mounds and temples are often thought to resemble the female form (often pregnant) in honor of Earth Goddess (Photo 37).

Early men and women projected their inner thoughts and feelings into an outer animistic world - a world where everything was alive and spiritual. Through prayers, sacrifices and gifts to the spirits, people believed they gained control of the phenomena of their world. This is the commonly accepted anthropomorphic worldview of the living earth, water, wind and fire in which the earth was revered as the embodiment of the great goddess, and death was perceived as a return to the womb.

Channeled Holes
Channeled Holes have been found at many ancient megalithic settlements and are thought to be primarily associated with religious ceremonies and the ritual sacrifice of animals. While these holes are found in a variety of shapes and sizes and likely have other functions as well, they do share common attributes. The central hole or bowl may either be round or square, characteristically having one, two or even three small channels leading into it.

Initially, it was assumed that these channels were used to collect blood which, when spilled, was directed into the bowl. The channels are typically about 50 cm in length, which makes them inefficient for collecting water for utilitarian purposes. However, while some may have been used for sacrificial purposes or for collecting blood, others may have been used to collect rainwater, which may have been considered "holy water" for ritual purposes.

While we might expect the orientation of the channels to vary, if they were merely simple carvings, this is not the case. The angle at which the channels enter or leave the hole again seems to be relevant to the position of the sunrise at different times of the year or to the north cardinal point.

For example, Photos 12, 13, 14 and 15 show sacrificial holes from different areas including sites at Bozdagh Hill, Hajigabul, Nardaran and Kanizdagh [See map: photo 4]. While channels may either be curved or straight, each of them points in a northeasterly direction, suggesting the direction of the Summer Solstice. Perhaps the slightly curved channel in some samples is a refinement representing how the sun arcs across the sky.

Photo 19 is from the Hajigabul area and illustrates a straight channel, which points to the east - the direction of the equinoxes.

This consistency would seem to indicate that the carvings are, once again, deliberately oriented and were used to identify specific times of the year. Consequently, it is reasonable to assume that they may have served as a simple calendar, such that when aligned with the sunrise at solstice or equinox, they would signal the time for community ritual or celebration.

However, while the channels may, indeed, point to specific directions and may have been carved in relation to either solar and/or star alignments, some caution is needed in their interpretation, due to a phenomenon called "precession" referring to the slight changes in the earth's axis of rotation that have occurred over thousands of years. Precession is the result of the celestial pole describing a circle - a counter - clockwise path across the heavens over a 26,000-year period.

In addition, while the photographs shown here include a compass, which points to the earth's Magnetic North
2 and not True North3 these points, too, fluctuate over time. These factors make the interpretation of the orientation of the carvings a complex study and one, which archaeo-astronomers may further wish to explore.

Hermit's House at Garshiraz with elevated Triple-Channeled Hole (Photo 22). (22):Garshiraz Triple-Channeled Hole. SSE, SSW, WSW orientations. Photos: Gallagher

Photo 21: Hermit's House at Garshiraz with elevated Triple-Channeled Hole (Photo 22).

Photo 22: Garshiraz Triple-Channeled Hole. SSE, SSW, WSW orientations. Photos: Gallagher

Consequently, carvings are locked in time, according to the orientation that was observed by early man. For example, today the star Polaris is closest to the North Pole, but some 5,000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians recognized Thuban in the constellation of Draco as their Pole Star
4 .The Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt was originally aligned to Thuban.

Consequently, because of the antiquity of these carvings in Azerbaijan, all of them will be slightly displaced clockwise to an extent relative to their age. Orientation is evidently an important aspect in these carvings and needs to be further investigated. Indeed, knowing the intended direction may even help in determining the age of the carvings.

Carved holes with two or more channels often have additional features of interest. Photo 20 shows a twin-channel sacrificial hole found next to a burial mound at Yeni Turkan on the Absheron Peninsula. Its channels point to the northeast and east. This carving highlights a common feature of twin-channel holes in that the left-hand channel often has a small bend in it, near its end. The reason for the feature is unknown, but it may have important symbolic meaning and is discussed below in connection with Maiden Tower.

The twin Channeled Holes from the Gobustan Heritage Center (Photo 17) and from Bozdagh (Photo 18) show consistent wider separation in the channels pointing to the north and southeast. Possibly these channels indicate the positions of the North cardinal point and the Winter Solstice. Photo 16 also shows a larger twin-channeled hole overlooking a Megalithic Stone Circle site. While its function may have been to collect and contain water and/or the blood of sacrificed animals, this particular example highlights another common feature of these carvings, in that they are often elevated and evidently visible to onlookers. It thus may be inferred that these carvings have had a ceremonial function.

An unusual triple Channeled Hole, known locally as Garshiraz (Photos 21 and 22) was found at a small building not far from Baku's Heydar Aliyev International Airport. (This site is of interest because local lore suggests that it had been an ancient religious site or shrine where a hermit once lived. To this day, it is regarded as a holy place where Shiite pilgrims enter to pray and light candles.)

The nearby cup-marked rock carvings identify the location as an ancient settlement. Again we may note here that the Channeled Hole is elevated, but it is square shaped, not round, has two crossing channels and has only one southeast (Winter Solstice) channel to indicate sunrise. Two other channels point in southwest and westerly directions towards winter and equinoxial sunsets, which like the orientation of bodies (lying in fetal positions) in ancient graves (kurgans) may reflect a belief in the afterlife.

The Staircase
Perhaps the most fascinating Channeled Hole (Photo 24) is the one found at Gobustan, an archaeological site southwest of Baku famous for its petroglyphs. Here are the two typical channels but an additional feature appears - a staircase, somewhat reminiscent in size to a child's dollhouse. There is a miniature set of 10 carved steps leading down to what appears to be a small platform, which presumably was at the water level.

Turkan Triple-Channeled Hole with Cup Marks on channels. Gobustan Triple-Channeled hole with staircase, the size of which is reminiscent of a child's doll house. There are 10 carved steps leading down to what appears to be a small platform, which presumably was at the water level. This carving is an unrecognized jewel in the Gobustan Heritage Center. It's meaning is yet unknown. Photos: Gallagher

Left: Turkan Triple-Channeled Hole with Cup Marks on channels.

Right: Gobustan Triple-Channeled Hole with staircase, the size of which is reminiscent of a child's doll house. There are 10 carved steps leading down to what appears to be a small platform, which presumably was at the water level. This carving is an unrecognized jewel in the Gobustan Heritage Center. It's meaning is yet unknown. Photos: Gallagher

This carving, which is clearly an unrecognized jewel in the Gobustan Heritage Center, does not seem to have been used for animal sacrifice. While many interpretations may be assigned to it, rainwater surely has to feature, as does the orientation of the channels and the staircase. This would suggest that both immersion into the water or exiting the water held symbolic or religious significance. As such, it is not hard to imagine that an entity, perhaps a spirit or god was associated with the cistern and may thus have been related to both the sun and water.

So far in this account, the sun and water have both played important roles. Symbolically for the ancients, both sun and fire were similar in that they both provide heat and light to sustain life. As such, there may be a connection to Agni
5 who was recognized as the God of Fire in three religions - Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Indo-Tibetan Buddhism.6

The Rig-Veda
7 mentions that he arises from water or dwells in the waters. In pre-Islamic times, Zoroastrianism prevailed in Azerbaijan. Also a God of Fire was identified. Not surprisingly the word "Azerbaijan" has meant "Land of Fires" from time immemorial. Even today in places such as Yanardagh on the Absheron Peninsula, one can see flames issuing from the clefts in rocks on the hillside.

And in the past there have been reports where natural gas was observed bubbling up from submerged mud volcanoes only to catch fire on the surface of the sea.

It's no wonder that such dramatic revelations of nature are surrounded in mystery. Coupled with other phenomena such as earthquakes and mud volcano eruptions, such as was noted in October 2001 at Lokbatan
8 it's not difficult to imagine that the idea of a Fire God would have developed in Azerbaijan from very early times, perhaps even dating back to the Neolithic period.

It's also likely that this belief was associated with water - a most unlikely pairing only for those unfamiliar with this phenomenon. Interestingly, Gobustan is located close to the two highest mud volcanoes in Azerbaijan, Turaghay and Kanizdagh (Photo 21B). Both are likely to have been sources of dramatic fire-related events, thus making the World Heritage Site potentially more significant than the Gobustan famous carvings alone would suggest. Channeled holes are clearly complex and important cultural features that seem to have religious meaning, involving the sun, water and possibly fire.

The last example of a Channeled Hole was found at Yeni Turkan (Photo 23). Here the channels show three key directions and orient towards north and east (the equinoxes) as well as southeast (Winter Solstice). In addition, unlike the simpler Channeled Holes, each channel is more complex due to the presence of Cup Marks. While the meaning of the Cup Marks is still unknown, they indicate further sophistication and provide a further possible link to the Maiden Tower.

While it cannot be said how the ancient people of this region actually worshipped, it is apparent that their culture was rich, consistent and evidently quite spiritual. The worship of the sun and rain, in conjunction with a belief in the Earth Goddess played important roles and indicate a belief system, which seemingly lasted for several millennia, possibly from Neolithic times into the early Bronze Age. Evidence would suggest that these age-old practices and traditions simply did not die out, but rather gradually became modified, merging with elements that were introduced as new belief systems evolved. Perhaps, these beliefs even became incorporated into the design of Maiden Tower.

Maiden Tower
An obvious point of similarity between Maiden Tower and these Cup Marks and Channels is that the circular shape of the Tower with its curious architectural projection or buttress resembles a single Channeled Hole, which orients to the East. In such a comparison, the round hole is represented by the Tower, while the Channel represents the buttress. It is as if the "sacred shape" has been transformed into an impressive three-dimensional structure.

From the top of the tower, the buttress points almost due East across the bay towards the headland of Gunashli at the tip end of Absheron Peninsula extending out into Baku Bay. Interestingly, the word "Gunashli" in Azeri means "sunny". This same angle is also reflected in the lower structures of the monument, which are older, as is seen in the plan diagram (Photos 29 and 30).
Orientation to the East and, in particular, to the Spring Equinox is of major religious significance. It is an event marked by festivities world-wide by many creeds, particularly those of the Near East. The celebration of Novruz (the Persian word for "New Day", meaning New Year starting on the First Day of Spring - March 21st) is recorded in documents that date back to Arsacid / Parthian times (247 BC to 224 AD).

In Azerbaijan, Novruz is the most popular annual festival and consists of a two-day public holiday during which plates of "samani"
9 (wheat or lentil sprouts) are displayed at homes and offered as gifts. In Iran, the public holiday extends for two weeks. The green sprouts signify rebirth and renewal. This tradition may explain why Maiden Tower faces east rather than in any other direction or towards the sunrise of either of the solstices.

However, a secondary angle is also represented in the Tower and involves both the numerous windows and the mysterious doorway, which orient to the southeast - the direction of the Winter Solstice [see Front Cover], which shows a view of the sunrise at Winter Solstice (December 21) from the odd doorway that exits to nowhere, halfway up the tower and, thereby, emphasizes the importance of this direction in the construction of the tower.

Maiden Tower sits on top of a rock outcrop that most likely featured an ancient channeled hole. The site would have been an ideal ceremonial platform - one that was used down through the ages. To have built a tower on such a foundation is not an unreasonable assumption as history is replete with examples where present-day holy sites were built upon foundations deemed sacred in earlier times.

Another clue is the slight crook or bend, which is often found in the left-side channel of twin-channeled holes. Curiously, this feature mirrors the odd angle in the wall of Maiden Tower's buttress. While the feature may be co-incidental, several examples or carvings indicate consistency and suggest the possibility of a symbolic connection between the many carved rock samples found throughout the countryside and the bent buttress of the tower.

If one compares the fascinating triple-channeled hole found at Yeni Turkan to the plan layout of Maiden Tower, other intriguing similarities become evident. For example, in Photo 30, we can see that the longer and, perhaps, more significant channel, pointing eastward, resembles the east-pointing buttress wall and its low level substructures. Here there is a remarkable similarity in both shape and orientation. In addition, the two Cup Marks on the carved channel are in the identical location to represent the two curious bulbous projections or platforms of the lower wall of Maiden Tower. This is an intriguing coincidence.

Sacrificial Stone
One final observation hints at a possible connection. Just below the northern wall of Maiden Tower is a stone block (Photo 36). This object has similar attributes to channeled carvings and seems likely to have been used in sacrifices. This is evident from its shape and the presence of a drainage channel. In this case, the channel appears to have been designed to drain blood away from the shallow pan-like collecting area.

Two holes that have been cut entirely through the block are located on either side of the "pan". It would appear that these might have been designed to somehow secure the legs or arms of a sacrificial victim in a ritual position prior to the slaughter. This effectively makes the object a potential killing stone or sacrificial altar.

In summary, several points of similarity between the rock carvings and Maiden Tower may be observed. So many similarities are unlikely to all be co-incidental and suggest possible links between the design of the Tower and the rock carvings. If correct, this implies the Tower is steeped in ancient tradition, dating back to prehistoric times to a culture that embraced the worship of the sun and nature.

The potential importance of these connections is so profound that it prompted a closer look at the Tower's design, the legends surrounding it, and the historical events of the two to three millennia in which Maiden Tower has stood as a silent witness.

Maiden Tower Facelift
Today, anyone studying Maiden Tower will observe that it was constructed on a rocky outcrop. It also appears to have been built in two sections: an ornate top half, and a simpler, smoother bottom section (Photos 42, 43). There have been many facelifts over the years, and the Tower is now a mixture of ancient and newer block work.

The description inside the tower reads as follows: "The Maiden Tower is situated in the southeast part of 'Ichari Shahar' [Baku's 'Old City']. This unique monument of Azerbaijani architecture was built in two periods. Most Azerbaijani scientists suppose the lower part of the monument up to 13.7m to be dated to the VII­VI centuries BC.

 Maiden Tower buttress. Angled wall has orientation to ESE (East southeast). Photo: Gallagher  Plan View of Maiden Tower showing orientation of the buttress to the East and the mysterious doorway that opens to the SE.

Photo 29: Maiden Tower buttress. Angled wall has orientation to ESE (East southeast). Photo: Gallagher

Photo 30: Plan View of Maiden Tower showing orientation of the buttress to the East and the mysterious doorway that opens to the SE.

"The height of the tower is 29.5 meters; its diameter is 16.5 meters. The thickness of the circular wall is five meters at the base and four meters at the top. The Tower is an eight-storied, cylindrical-shaped structure built upon coastal bedrock.

"Each of the eight floors is crowned with a stone cupola with round hole. The floors are connected via a stone staircase built within the walls themselves. Daylight penetrates the tower through narrow window-like loop holes which are wider on the inside. On the first floor there are some niches in the thick walls inside, which is a pottery pipe of 30 cm internal diameter.

"There is the well of 13.5 cm diameter on the second floor inside the tower. On the southwest section of the Tower, written in the post Islamic Kufi script
10 which is generally interpreted: "The Tower of Masud, son of David"11 [Photos 44, 45]

"According to the kind of stone and its position, scientists supposed these inscriptions to be rebuilt into the walls of the Maiden Tower around the XII century during reconstruction work. In 1960, restoration work was carried out. The unusual form and originality of the Tower are always of great interest for Azerbaijani scientists."

Numerous legends are associated with Maiden Tower [For Ballet interpretations of this legend, see Photos 38-41]. One involves the tragic story of a maiden casting herself down off the pinnacle to her death to avoid an incestuous relationship with the city's ruler, often identified as her father.

An alternative version of the story accuses Khunsur, legendary founder of Baku, of locking his innocent sister in the tower. She threw herself to her death in retaliation. As a result, God drowned Khunsur's great pastures and created the Caspian Sea.

Other stories relate to the impregnability of such towers, hence the name "maiden". But myths and legends should not be dismissed outright as they often do hint at some of the original meaning. Many of these stories involve the elements of kidnapping a young woman and her subsequent death. While there may well be a sacrificial component involving a highly prized victim, such as a virgin or "first born", as is often mentioned in ancient texts, perhaps there is a more plausible explanation connecting the idea of a maiden with the Tower.

Stories of captured maidens are remarkably similar in ancient myths and allegorical tales and often symbolize the cyclical nature of renewal. The best known of these myths relates how Hades, the god of the underworld, carried off Persephone, causing her mother Demeter, the Goddess of Agriculture, to allow the earth to become barren as an expression of her own grief. Zeus then allowed Persephone to spend four months of the year in the house of Hades and eight months in the light of day. In the Hymn to Demeter, the earliest source of this myth, it states explicitly that Persephone returns when the spring flowers are blossoming.

Perhaps, there is ample justification here to see a relationship in the Tower's structure and the idea of seasonal renewal since Maiden Tower does face towards the east-the location of the Spring Equinox.

Indeed, there are indications that the Tower was constructed to carry out solar observation. Historian Gara Ahmadov [spelled Akhmedov via Russian] claims that the Tower is an observatory. However, while it may have been constructed to view the sun and heavens in a general sense, it is unlikely that it was built as an astronomical observatory such as at the one in Samarkand built by Ulugh Bey in the 15th century or the observatory in Maragha (now Iran) during Tusi's scientific observations of the 13th century

The allegorical tale of a solar cycle and seasonal renewal seems to fit neatly into the model of the Tower being a solar observatory, a function of which was to herald the onset of spring and the celebration of the spring festival of Novruz.

Tower Foundations
In terms of age, scientists consider the lower section of Maiden Tower to be some 2,600 years old. This may be partly true, not so much in relationship to the first 13m of the tower, but rather in reference to its foundations.

Maiden Tower lower wall showing that foundation was built upon earlier blockwork. Scientists consider the lower section of Maiden Tower to be some 2,600 years old. This may be partly true, not so much in relationship to the first 13m of the tower, but rather in reference to its foundations. An older age may even be possible. They may date back to Neolithic or Early Bronze age. Further study is needed to investigate the age.

Above: Maiden Tower lower wall showing that foundation was built upon earlier blockwork. Scientists consider the lower section of Maiden Tower to be some 2,600 years old. This may be partly true, not so much in relationship to the first 13m of the tower, but rather in reference to its foundations. An older age may even be possible. They may date back to Neolithic or Early Bronze age. Further study is needed to investigate the age.

Indeed, an older age may even be possible. A careful examination of the Tower reveals that it sits on top of an older more ancient structure - possibly an ancient "sun temple". Photos 32 and 33 highlight the joint between the main tower and its older foundations, indicating that weathering and erosion have taken place and that the foundation is extremely old.

As implied above, the origins of the Tower at this holy site may date back to the Neolithic or, perhaps, Early Bronze Age. If so, then it may push the construction of the earlier foundation upon which Maiden Tower is built back to around three or four thousand years old. This would have to be proven scientifically; but as incredible as it may seem, it may actually be the case.

Maiden Tower near entrance on North side. Section indicates that the monument was built upon an older structure.

Above: Maiden Tower near entrance on North side. Section indicates that the monument was built upon an older structure.

Stone cuttings
In addition to the differential weathering patterns observable on the foundation when compared to the Tower, there are also tell-tale signs of metal tools, of saw and chisel marks on the upper blocks, which are absent in the stonework of the foundation, suggesting that the upper Tower was built in a different technological age.

Indeed, the stone cutting techniques would suggest that the entire upper Tower was built at one single occasion and not in two phases as described in the translated description posted inside the Tower's entrance.

Possibly, the foundation of Maiden Tower was part of an earlier structure that developed out of the Neolithic / Early Bronze Age traditions and which preserved the cultural designs enshrined in the rock carvings. The present Tower itself was then built upon this structure following the pre-existing ground plan. Clearly, the foundation of the Tower needs to be investigated to determine its age. If, indeed, it was designed as a "sun temple", there are historical indications that it may have been destroyed in the 7th century as discussed below.

The name "Baku"
Indirect evidence of the extreme age of the foundation structure also comes from reflecting on the name "Baku". While debates still continue regarding the origin of this word, there are some interesting insights that may be relevant to our discussion about the Tower itself. For example, the English archaeologist Sir William Flinders Petrie noted that the word "Bakhay" is used in the Egyptian "Book of the Dead" which dates back to the 2nd millennium BC. There the word is thought to refer to the location where the city of Baku stands today and has been interpreted to mean "the mountain of Bakhou of the rising Sun".

Azerbaijani Professor Sara Ashurbeyli, a leading specialist in etymology also thinks the word dates back to Zoroastrianism, and is derived from the word "baga" which means "Sun" and "God" in a number of ancient languages.

Some scholars also consider Baku as an ethnotoponym - that is, a name derived from the names of the ancient tribes "Bakan" or "Bagi", people who inhabited the Absheron Peninsula in the XII-V centuries BC.

The fact that Baku is referenced in an ancient text in the context of solar worshipping is of considerable interest and suggests that something akin to a sun temple was in existence several millennia ago. Indeed, there may even be indirect evidence for this, given the multiple clues of past sun and fire worship in Azerbaijan.

Religious Regional Heritage
Historians tell us that ancient Azerbaijan was settled by the Medes prior to the 8th century BC. As a religion, Zoroastrianism prevailed for nearly a thousand years throughout Azerbaijan. Of particular importance is the fact that they worshipped at fire temples. Perhaps the most famous Zoroastrian fire temple is Azargashasb Shiz at the historic fortress of Takht-e Suleiman (Throne of Solomon) near Urumia, which is presently located in northwest Iran, which was formerly part of Azerbaijan.

View from top of Maiden Tower. Mid 1990s. Photo: Blair

Above: View from top of Maiden Tower. Mid 1990s. Photo: Blair

Further information comes from Strabo, the ancient Roman geographer, who nearly 2000 years ago refers to the Albanians (who lived in the territory now known as Azerbaijan) in his book Geography. He says: "As for gods, they honor Helius (the sun), Zeus and Selene (the moon)13". Interestingly, Strabo also refers to temples and religious practices involving sacrifices, some of which involved humans.

Furthermore "Azar/Azer" in Persian means "fire", "Atar" in Avestan reflects the concept of "burning and unburning fire" and "visible and invisible fire"
14. In Sanskrit "Azer" is "Atharva", referring to the fire-worshipping priests of the Vedic period (1500­500 BCE).

With so many connections to the sun, fire, sacrifice and temples, it is possible that the foundation upon which Maiden Tower stands was either an ancient sun temple or possibly fire temple.

This then begs the question: "What happened to the original temple?" "Was it destroyed?" "If so, how did it come to be rebuilt?" While it is impossible to say what actually happened, and what it may have originally looked like, history again suggests a possible explanation for the destruction of the original building whose foundation is the base of today's Maiden Tower.

Here Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) provides some useful information in his book, "The Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire" (1776). Gibbon comments on the Byzantine or Roman Emperor Heraclius (610-641 AD) and his campaign against the Persian King Chosroes [Khosrow] II. The historian states that Heraclius over wintered and "retreated into the province of Albania (Azerbaijan), along the shores of the Caspian; and his tents were most probably pitched in the plains of Mogan" [Note: Mugan is just south of Baku]. In the course of this successful campaign, he epitomized the zeal and revenge of a Christian emperor. At his command, his soldiers extinguished the fire and destroyed the temples of the Magi".

History records that Heraclius destroyed the Fire Temple at Takht-e Suleiman in 624 AD and plundered its treasures. Given that his army camped so close to Baku over many months, is it not plausible that he also destroyed the structure that later provided the foundation for building of what is now known as Maiden Tower?

If so, it suggests that an original sun temple did exist, and may have been constructed 2,600 years ago or, perhaps, even earlier. If this interpretation is correct, it also suggests a possible 7th century AD or later date for the re-construction of the Maiden Tower. It further indicates that the reconstructed Maiden Tower was an "Atash Kadeh", that is, a Parsee Fire Temple.

Evidence for the tower being an Atash Kadeh is also plausible based on an inspection by the distinguished Parsee scholar and traveler Dr. J.J. Modi who visited Azerbaijan in 1925. He specifically came to Baku to study both the Fire Temple of Atashgah at Surakhani as well as Maiden Tower in Baku.

His fascinating account is best read in the on-line reference given in the bibliography
15. As an expert in religious matters, he identified Atashgah at Surakhani as a Hindu Fire Temple, observing that its design, which includes a cremation pit, is different from a traditional Parsee Fire Temple. While fire features in both religions, cremation is anathema to Parsees.

In discussing the Maiden Tower, Dr. Modi states: "According to my examination. . . This is an Atash Kadeh. It is not a common Atash Kadeh with its fire maintained by burning wood by its priests, but it is an Atash Kadeh fed by natural gas-Naphtha (apam napat). 'Haft' or seven is a very holy number in Zoroastrian religion and, hence, there are seven storeys or stages in it [excluding the ground floor].

"At each level, in one corner, there is an escape hole for the natural gas Naphtha which when lit created a fireball. This minaret is taller than 80 feet. The steps for climbing are on one side and its diameter at the top is as wide as 40 feet.

"From the top, you can see the vast sea shore of Vourukash Sea (Caspian sea), and from its ramparts, you can observe the nature's sun, moon, and stars."

Dr. Modi was convinced the Maiden Tower was an Atesh Kadeh, so much so that at a meeting with the then Azerbaijani Soviet head Aghamaliogli, he encouraged him to preserve it in good condition for posterity. In his account, he also mentions a curious observation related to its design and the restoration work that was later to be carried out in the 1960s.

Dr. Modi states: "I examined the minaret all the way to its top. There at the top was a tablet in Persian with the inscription: "Kooba-a-Masood bin Daaood", meaning "House of Daaood's son, Masood."

This is of interest for several reasons. First of all, as an eye witness to the tower in 1925, Modi states that the inscription was at the top of the tower, not half way up the west wall where can be seen today. While this might simply be an error in translation, it more likely suggests that the tablet was relocated during later renovation work.

Hopefully, this digression here has been relevant to this discussion and indicates that Maiden Tower apparently does have religious origins, is steeped in sun, nature and, possibly even fire worship. While there does seem to be some evidence of the tower being an Atesh Kadeh, it also should be noted that such a hypothesis has yet to be proven. Further study and comparison is needed.

Tower Construction
Returning to the block work construction on Maiden Tower: By closely examining the stone masonry, it becomes apparent that there is a distinctive lozenge or diamond-shaped pattern present on both sections of the tower walls - top and bottom, outside and inside (Photos 34, 35).

On the outside, this can best be observed with binoculars on the west wall near the main entrance where weathering and erosion have been more limited and caused less damage over the years. The carefully crafted diamond shape is quite subtle and has been carved into the face of the stonework in both the ornate top and plainer bottom half of the tower. It seems this "cut" might have simply been a decorative feature and not simply an artifact of a stone-cutting technique.

The presence of the diamond shape "cut" on the blocks throughout the Tower provides evidence that the monument was built as a single unit and not in two sections at two different time periods.

Within the tower, close inspection of the ceilings reveals newer construction and cruder workmanship. In Photo 48, distinct differences between the coloration of the stone used in the wall and ceiling can clearly be seen. The cut marks on the stone are executed quite haphazardly, especially in comparison to the work seen on the outside of the tower. The persistence of this careless workmanship throughout the Tower in the newer reconstruction suggests that the floors on each level have been added later.

Indeed, a photograph displayed in the Tower suggests that the floors have been added relatively recently, perhaps even during the 1960s "restoration". Photo 46 provides a telling cutaway section of the interior of the tower. Here each level is seen to have entrances and exits, platform walkways, handrails and a perimeter ledge. The handrails can only be explained by the absence of floors stretching across the inner circumference of the seven levels of the tower to prevent people from falling and the function of the original ledge presumably was to give access to the niches, perhaps, in order to service and keep the holy fires lit.

Water Well
Another intriguing and important observation has to do with a water well located on the second floor. Here there is a feature that has long been hidden from the public. Photo 49 shows the top of the well while Photo 47 is a cutaway section of the well descending down to an enlarged cavern in the solid rock below the tower. What is not shown on the diagram however is the presence of a doorway to the well from the ground floor chamber. Visitors cannot see this lower well access for it is hidden behind a display cabinet. This doorway was discovered by Abbas Islamov as part of an ongoing design study of Maiden Tower.

Intrigued by the function of the well, a video camera was lowered and filmed it. A result was Photo 49, which indicates an original doorway. For this well to have been hidden and not depicted in diagrams suggests that the lower entrance to it was considered an anomaly, perhaps unimportant or, at least, not fully studied by archaeologists.

Having two entrances to a well in either a hollow tower (or even one that had floors) is distinctly odd and remains an intriguing mystery. It is the subject of continuing study on the possible function of Maiden Tower.

As previously noted, ancient man was expert in catching and collecting water in cisterns. In the Maiden Tower, the enlarged excavated cavern, seen in the diagram at the bottom of the well, may have been part of a rainwater containment system. Given that the well is now dry, it suggests that it does not tap into groundwater.

Of course, one would expect groundwater so close to the Caspian Sea to be brackish and salty. This leaves rainwater and a collection system the most likely explanation. So, what evidence exists for this idea?

Interestingly, Abbas Islamov learned that at the time of the restoration of Maiden Tower in the 1960s that water was reported to have been present at the bottom of the well. It is now dry, presumably because of the renovations, the addition of floors and extensive weatherproofing of the structure, particularly on the inside where considerable amounts of mortar cover the block work.

If the cistern had been designed for rainwater storage, then by implication, it suggests that the hollow tower may not have had a roof, and might have been designed to collect rainwater. Ceramic pipe-work within the niches may have played a role in assisting water to flow down to the cistern. The pipe-work (which may once have channeled natural gas from below) would also reduce leakage and water loss to the thick walls.

Fortunately, the tower's plumbing system is still largely in place and while currently clogged with debris, the renovations should not have affected it. Perhaps, these ideas could be tested. It should be possible to access the well to locate drainage routes and employ either acoustic or water flood methods to confirm the internal plumbing arrangement and demonstrate how the drainage system worked. Indeed, if the internal drainage system is proven throughout the tower, this would be an important discovery and would support the view that the tower was built as a single unit.

Confirming Age
The pottery pipe system may also provide a key to unlocking the age of the Tower, for the ceramic material may be tested to determine its age, using the scientific technique of thermo-luminescence
16. Sediments found within the cisterns could also provide valuable archaeological information as the organic remains could provide an indication of age and usage over time. Furthermore, if natural gas once burned in the niches then evidence of hydrocarbons in the cistern sediments ought to be found. Again, these might be used to identify the Tower's age.

Sunlight in Tower
Another feature that suggests the Tower was once hollow and which also seems to reflect the essence of the Tower, has to do with the way sunlight enters the structure.

Today, sunlight enters through the narrow-slitted windows, which flare outwards to illuminate the interior on its downward passage. However, if one could remove the floors, the light would continue to pass downwards to a lower level and target the opposite rear wall, very close to the mysterious internal niches.

Here we may envisage that as the sun rose in the winter sky, sunlight would enter the small upper windows of the Tower, one after another to act as a spotlight on the back wall. Unfortunately, this effect cannot be seen today because of the presence of the floors. But, if they were to be removed, then the effect should become apparent to ground level viewers, looking upwards from inside the hollow tower. There, an interesting interplay of sunlight and shadow on the opposite wall at each level below would be seen. As the niches are also opposite the stairwell openings on each level, observers would have been able to witness a striking effect opposite wall when the niches were illuminated.

While the niches may have featured holy fires, and been kept lit by priests using oil burners or, perhaps, natural gas, it may be possible that these niches were also occupied by figures, possibly statues of deities. The lower windows that face in a southwesterly direction are possibly related to midwinter sunsets. It needs further study. Also it is possible that the glow of the "sacred fires" lit at the niches would funnel through the windows and provide seven points of illumination for distant onlookers. The glow from the tower, which is likely to have been the tallest structure in the region for many years, no doubt, would have been quite impressive.

Today, it is difficult to envisage all of this but, overall, the interplay of light and shadow ought to be studied and verified by careful measurement and modeling. It is evident that both religion and science are at work here and, if proven, it would demonstrate a remarkable feat of engineering, knowledge of physics and astronomy, linked to a deeply engrained belief system.

The Magi who were the priests, astronomers and scientists of their day, stand out as the likely custodians of more ancient knowledge, cultural and religious beliefs, handed down from a remote past. Using their understanding of the sun's daily and annual movement across the sky and their connection to sun temples, it is perhaps not unreasonable to assume that they were involved in the design and construction of this remarkable structure.

Interestingly, previous commentators in Azerbaijan International
17 have noted connections to Zoroastrianism, the world's first major monotheistic religion that arose in the Near East, and which thrived for more than a thousand years until the advent of Islam. Professor David Akhundov, an architectural historian, for example, dates the Tower around the 7th-6th century BC, and suggests that the seven floors of the tower (excluding the ground floor) symbolize seven main deities.

M. Nabiyev
18 also believes the Maiden Tower was an early "Tower of Silence" where the dead were taken and placed on the roof and tied down to be eaten by ravenous birds. [Note that Zoroastrians do not bury their dead in the ground for fear of contaminating the earth; instead, they practiced "sky burial", or excarnation, allowing vultures and crows to dispose of the earthly remains while the spirit moves on.]

Conclusion and Postscript
Azerbaijan may well have been an important player in religious developments throughout the ages, but whose significance has been lost over time, especially with the conquests of invaders who brought with them religions that were antagonist to previous belief systems.

On this theme, it is relevant to reflect upon one final and remarkable bit of evidence that underlines this possibility. In September 2004 on the Absheron Peninsula at Yeni Turkan, a remarkable burial mound was found within a ritual landscape of kurgans, stone circles, rock engravings and cart ruts

Due to its imminent destruction from an advancing limestone quarry, and with the help of Dr. Idris Aliyev of the Institute of Archaeology and Dr. Victor Kvachidze of Baku's History Museum, a rescue dig to recover archaeological artifacts was undertaken.

Contrary to expectation, instead of finding a burial chamber or "cist" and the human remains of a single ancient tribal leader; surprisingly, two statues were unearthed. Statues, "steles" or anthropomorphic figures had been found before, but these two - one clearly female and the other perhaps male - were unique in Azerbaijan (Photo 57 and 58).

What was particularly interesting was that the heads of both statues had been deliberately broken. Both statues had then been ceremoniously buried, in the manner afforded to important leaders. An explanation for such a burial is needed, but the reason may lie in the transition from one belief system to another, brought on by geopolitical changes. If so, this suggests that the possibility that these statues, representing earlier gods - perhaps an Earth Mother Goddess and her counterpart - a male god of the sky - were no longer deemed relevant. However, out of reverence, the statues merited a traditional burial. In effect, perhaps the ancient gods that had typified a belief system in the worship of nature had fallen out of favor at this apparent moment in time. Given a Neolithic or Early Bronze Age date for this burial, archaeologists should be able to determine the precise date of this event, which may date back to 2,000-3,000 BC). This, in turn, may have given rise to a monotheistic belief system such as is enshrined in Zoroastrianism, world's first recognized monotheistic religion.

The goddess/god statues were a remarkable find and, perhaps, may even be quite relevant to this discussion about Maiden Tower as the burial site was located only a hundred meters or so from a rock carving that so closely resembles the ground plan of the Maiden Tower shown in Photo 30. Of course, this may be an amazing coincidence, but given the uniqueness of these finds, their proximity to Baku, and potential links to an earlier, older sun temple, connections do seem plausible.

The extent to which Maiden Tower as a "temple of sun worship" might link to ancient religions is a subject far beyond the scope of this article. However, it is worth remembering how ancient the worship of the sun is, and how central it has been in the evolution of religion, particularly Western religions. Maiden Tower, and its more ancient history and possible rock carving connections, may well have played a role in this fascinating story.

Studying the rock carvings in Azerbaijan and Maiden Tower in Baku has been akin to a detective work, trying to solve a mystery that spans four to five thousand years. It is exceedingly complex and, clearly, there is yet a long way to go.

If the interpretations and relationships made so far are in the right "ball park'" and considered credible, then financial and academic resources and the application of modern archaeological techniques are necessary to take the investigation forward. A professional multidisciplinary scientific and open-minded approach is clearly needed to further investigate this intriguing puzzle. With possible links to the beginnings of Monotheism in Zoroastrianism, followed by the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the Maiden Tower has evidently witnessed mankind's religious development from a very ancient past.

Maiden Tower is already part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of "Ichari Shahar" - Baku's "Old City"
20 and is listed there as a monument that dates back only to the 12th century. However, with new insight, the Tower truly stands out as a monument of world heritage proportions, meriting international consideration and multidisciplinary study. Only by doing so, may we remove the veil that hides its true function and the intent of its design, allowing us to understand this great treasure in its proper light, and not just as the enigmatic curiosity that we see today.

. "Hounds and Jackals" board game: See similarities between photo of cup array. Reference:

2. Magnetic North: the direction indicated by a magnetic compass. Magnetic North moves slowly with a variable rate and currently is west of Grid North in Great Britain: Ordnance Survey, UK.

3. True North: the direction of a meridian of longitude, which converges on the North Pole. Source: Ordnance Survey, UK.

4. A pole star is a visible star that is approximately aligned with the Earth's axis of rotation; that is, a star that lies in the direction pointed to by one of Earth's poles. There are potentially both north and south pole stars, but whether there is either depends on the current stellar configuration. The term "pole star" usually refers to the star Polaris (colloquially referred to as the "North Star") which is the current northern pole star [Source: Wikipedia, September 21, 2006].

5. Agni: a Hindu and Vedic deity. The word "agni" is Sanskrit for "fire" (noun), cognate with Latin "ignis" (the root of English "ignite"). The sacrifices made to Agni go to the deities because Agni is a messenger from and to the other gods. He is forever young, because the fire is re-lit every day; but also he is immortal.

Agni is worshipped under a threefold form: fire on earth, lightning and the sun. His cult survived the change of the ancient Vedic nature-worship into modern Hinduism, and there are fire-priests (agnihotr) whose duty is to watch over his worshippers. The sacred fire-drill for procuring the temple-fire by friction-symbolic of Agni's daily miraculous birth-is still used. (Source: Wikipedia, October 11, 2006).

6.Reference about three religions. Visit the Web site:

7. Rig-Veda: collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns dedicated to the gods. The Rigveda was composed between 1700­1100 BCE (the early Vedic period) in the Punjab (Sapta Sindhu) making it one of the world's oldest religious texts, and one of the oldest texts of any Indo-European language. It was preserved in the Indian subcontinent over centuries by oral tradition alone and was probably not put in writing until Late Antiquity or even the early Middle Ages. (Source: Wikipedia, October 11, 2006).

8. Mud Volcano eruption at Lokbatan in 2001: See 2001 photo in "Mud Volcano Eruption: Lokbatan, An Eyewitness Account in 1887" by Brita Asbrink in AI 11.2 (Summer 2003). Also see "Mud Volcanoes: Mysterious Phenomena Fascinate Scientists and Tourists" by Ronnie Gallagher in AI 11.2 (Summer 2003).

9. Samani: To see photos of "samani" (sprouted wheat grass or sprouted lentils) and other traditions that have developed around Novruz (alternative spelling, Noruz), see the article "Novruz...Celebration That Would Not Die", AI 2.2 (Summer 1994).

10. Kufi script for the Arabic language was the dominant priestly script in early times [Photos 43, 44].

11. Son of David: The actual English text posted in Maiden Tower reads: "Sun of David" which, according to Dr. Farid Alakbarli, is obviously an error on the part of the translator, as several Azerbaijani Orientalists and historians, including Sara Ashubeyli and Mashadi Neymat have confirmed that the Arabic text reads "son", not "sun".

12. Maragha Observatory, east of Tabriz in present-day Iran: See "Scientists Who Made A Difference: Nasir al-Din Tusi (1201-1274) and the Maragha Observatory" by Dr. Chingiz Qajar, AI 4.2 (Summer 1996). Also "A 13th-Century Darwin? Tusi's Views on Evolution" by Dr. Farid Alakbarli, AI 9.2 (Summer 2001).

13. Strabo Geography Books, Volumes 10-12, Loeb Classical Library, p 229.

14. Atar in Avestan. Source: Mirza, 1987:389. Source: Wikipedia, October 11, 2006.

15. See: Modi, Ervad Shams-Ul-Ulama, Dr. Sir Jivanji Jamshedji. "My Travels Outside Bombay, Iran, Azerbaijan, Baku". Visit:

16. Thermoluminescence: (TL) dating is the determination by means of measuring the accumulated radiation dose of the time elapsed since material containing crystalline minerals was either heated (lava, ceramics) or exposed to sunlight (sediments). As the material is heated during measurements, a weak light signal, the thermo-luminescence, proportional to the radiation dose is produced. Source: Wikipedia: Oct 9, 2006.

17. See "Baku's Maiden Tower: Legendary Monument of Mystery" by Dr. Seyran Valiyev. AI 4.2 (Summer 1996).

Also "Baku's Architecture: Identity of Architects and Financiers Revealed," by Dr. Farid Alakbarli. AI 9.4 (Winter 2001).

18. Referenced in "Baku's Maiden Tower: Legendary Monument of Mystery," by Dr. Seyran Valiyev. AI 4.2 (Summer 1996).

19. See: "Cart Ruts and Stone Circles: Key Evidence from the Past," by Ronnie Gallagher and Abbas Islamov in Azerbaijan International 10.3 (Autumn 2002).

20. World Heritage Site: Baku's Ichari Shahar (Old City) was included on this prestigious world list in December 2000. See "UNESCO: Baku's Old City Listed as World Heritage Site," AI 8.4 (Winter 2000).


Back to Index AI 14.3 (Autumn 2006)

AI Home
| Search | Magazine Choice | Topics | AI Store | Contact us

Other Web sites created by Azerbaijan International
| |