Azerbaijan International

Winter 2006 (14.4)
Page 11

Reader's Forum
Maiden Tower Phenomenon

Here Comes the Sun!
Editor's note: In our last issue - Autumn 2006 (AI 14.3), our cover story featured Maiden Tower. [See "New Discovery: Maiden Tower Marks Winter Solstice" by Ronnie Gallagher and Betty Blair. Search at]

On Winter Solstice - December 21, the sun rises perfectly in that mysterious doorway half way up Maiden Tower on the side that faces the sea. Unfortunately, Ronnie Gallagher, the main author of the article is on assignment in Angola with BP and was not able to be in Baku to witness this phenomenon this year. However, I had flown in from Los Angeles and along with Abbas Islamov who has done extensive research on the topic, we got the kind permission of the Director of Maiden Tower to open the monument before the sun rose at 8 am on December 21.

Above (1): Cover of Azerbaijan International (Autumn 2006, AI 14.3) featuring the phenomenon of he sun rising exactly through the Maiden Tower doorway at Winter Solstice (Dec 21-22). Many monuments built by ancient man throughout the world share this same architectural phenomenon.

The significance of the building's orientation indicates that early man was very conscious of the celestial phenomenon. Winter Solstice marks the "rebirth of the sun" on the beginning of new planting season. Photo: Abbas Islamov (2004)

It was still quite dark outside as we climbed the stone stairway that winds through the thick walls of the tower up to the third floor. And yes, the sunrise was breathtaking and so perfectly aligned in the archway, just as we had written.


Above (2-4): Sunrise at Winter Solstice (December 21, 2006 at 8 a.m.) as viewed through the mysterious doorway half way up Maiden Tower, Baku. Photo: Betty Blair (2006)

Below (5): Sunrise at Winter Solstice (2006) as seen through the mysterious doorway inside the passageway that penetrates the 5-meter (16 ft.) thick walls. Photo: Betty Blair (2006)

Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year in terms of daylight and this day marks the reversal of the sun's path and the beginning of the new year, especially for Early Man whose very survival depended upon understanding the laws of nature. It is the day of the rebirth of the Sun.

The next morning we arranged a press conference so that camera crews could catch a glimpse of the sunrise and share it with the Azerbaijani public. The media came: all six television channels: ANS, AZTV, SPACE, LIDER, ATV (Azad Azerbaijan) and ITV (Ictimai TV which is the new public TV channel). Also Express and 525-ci Qazet newspapers. There were about 25 to 30 members of the media. To our great disappointment, there was cloud cover.

No sunrise. Such mornings are typical for December. But still we spoke to the press and showed photos from our laptop that we had taken the previous morning. Azerbaijan International is proud to be the first publication to write about this natural phenomenon of the sunrise in relationshihp to man-made building construction in Baku.

Two points are important to us. First of all, we hope that our research will lead to the tradition of Maiden Tower being opened every year as an annual tourist attraction at sunrise on December 21-22-23 just slightly before 8 a.m. In other countries, people queue up by the thousands to see such phenomenon.

Secondly, we hope that international archaeologists will join Azerbaijani scientists so that together they can discover more of the marvels of Maiden Tower and the accompanying beliefs that under gird this man-made construction-beliefs that were shared by early man who lived far beyond this monument beside the Caspian Sea.

Betty Blair, Editor
Los Angeles and Baku

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