Saturday, August 2, 2014

City of the Dead

Dargavs is a small necropolis outside the village of Dargavs in North Ossetia-Alania. It comprises 99 different tombs and crypts. It is often called city of the dead. Some sources say the oldest of the crypts dates back to the 12th century, though others say the oldest crypt dates back to 14th century and some say it dates to the 16th century. The architecture suggests that the people that lived in the area might have been a Nakh people, though another explanation might be that the Ossetians in the area might have taken up the architectural style of the Nakh people as this region is not the only place with Nakh architecture in Ossetia; in the other mountainous parts of Ossetia there are many Nakh towers and places as well with similar architecture.

The tombs and crypts are placed on hills or mountain sides closely together, though some crypts are located sparsely. On the highest point, or at least higher up than the rest of the buildings, there must always be a tower to watch over the dead. The crypts also go upward the mountain side in a line with each other, with some of them built into the mountain side.The people of the nearby village used to bury their dead family and loved ones, often in small wooden "boats" as found by archaeological discoveries.  The crypts that are more sparsely placed are common crypts where people would be buried if there were no one to bury them or if they were not from the village. There are found many coins in the ground by the complex, as Ossetians would throw a coin from the hill for a dead family member and if the coin hit stone it meant that the soul of the dead one had reached heaven. This could also be done in the small wells that are in front of every crypt.

All photos credit to  Sergey Muhamedov/

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