Until 30 years ago, corpses could still be found on top of the Towers of Silence in Yazd, Iran, slowly disintegrating or being picked apart by desert vultures.In the Zoroastrian tradition, once a body ceases to live, it can immediately be contaminated by demons and made impure. To prevent this infiltration, Zoroastrians purified the dead body by exposing it to the elements and local birds of Prey on top of flat-topped towers in the desert called dakhmas. According to a tradition dating back over 3,000 years, bodies were arranged on the towers in three concentric circles. Men were placed in the outer circle, women in the middle, and children in the inner-most ring. Bodies were then left until their bones were bleached and stripped by the vultures.After the process of purification, bones were placed in ossuaries near, or inside, of the towers. Since the 1970s, the use of dakhmas has been illegal in Iran, forcing orthodox Zoroastrian's to adapt to new burial methods.
© Ramdas Iyer Photography