Before heading to the Southern part of the town to visit the Towers of Silence we were given some explanations as to what Zoroastrianism is and the laws they are guided by. Towers of Silence or Dakhmas as they are called in Farsi are circular raised structures used to expose the dead to scavenging birds, once the Zoroastrian tradition considers a dead body un-clean. In accordance with their laws governing the sanctity of earth, fire air and water, in Achaemenid times the dead were exposed and their bones later gathered to be placed in ossuaries.
As we approached the site we were met by a Zoroastrian guard standing there with his donkey. In the distance the two dakhmas were quite imposing, although our visit started around the building remains within the area - a water cistern with two wind towers, rooms for the mourners, as well as a mortuary reception area where the body was supposed to be cleansed and dressed in a clean but old sacred girdle for carrying to the platform.
This practice was erradicated in the early 20th century in Iran and Zoroastrians are now interred in the nearby cemetery. Although the Towers of silence are no longer in use there was a reverance and respect type of attitude that one could not help having as we strolled around the site.
(To be continued)