Tomb of Daniel at Samarkand – Samarkand, Uzbekistan - Atlas Obscura

Tomb of Daniel at Samarkand

An 18-meter-long sarcophagus of a constantly growing dead prophet. 


Five domes adorn the long structure that holds an 18-meter-long sarcophagus, reputedly holding the remains of the Old Testament prophet Daniel, revered by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike—although only Christians regard him as a prophet.

This is not the only place that claims to be Daniel’s final resting place. The most widely accepted of these places is in Susa, Iran. Even beyond Uzbekistan and Iran, a couple of cities in Iraq also lay claim to be the final resting place of Daniel – which, since the Bible places Daniel in Babylon, in modern-day Iraq, at the time of his death, is not too far-fetched either.

Samarkand seems to be the odd one among the places, that argue to be the real final resting place of Daniel. As legend has it, Timur (Tamerlane) tried to conquer modern-day Syria, but successively failed—apparently because the body of Daniel was preventing his success. When he finally succeeded, it is claimed, that he ordered the body to be buried at Samarkand for good luck.

Immediately after he was buried, a natural spring started to sprout, which, naturally, is regarded to have healing powers. Local lore goes even further, stating that Daniel’s body was continually growing at a rate of around five centimeters a year. If this were true, the body of Daniel would by now have a length of more than 125 meters, rather than “just“ 18 meters, since he died approximately 2,500 years ago. However, the truth behind the corpse’s growth is that Timur was paranoid about grave robbers and extended the grave to make it harder for potential robbers to pillage the bones.

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May 23, 2012

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