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Western Caucasian Dolmens by V.I. Markovin

Caucasus Dolmens

Anthropology & Archeology of Eurasia, vol. 41, no. 4 (Spring 2002), pp. 68–88.
© 2003 M.E. Sharpe, Inc. All rights reserved.
ISSN 1061–1959/2003

English translation © 2003 by M.E. Sharpe, Inc., from the Russian text © 2000 by V.I. Markovin and the Institute of Archeology, Russian Academy of Sciences. “Dol’meny Zapadnogo Kavkaza: mistika, nauchnye mneniia i perspektivy dal’neishego izucheniia,” Rossiiskaia arkheologiia, 2000, no. 4, pp. 26–42.

This lecture was delivered at the meeting of the Bronze Age Department of the Russian Academy of Science’s Institute of Archeology on 28 October 1999. 

Translated by Anya Bernstein.

Every type of monument from the western Caucasus gains certain popularity from time to time. When this happens, it receives extensive coverage in the media and newspapers, radio, and television run endless stories on it. This was the case with the tower structures in Chechnya and Ingushetia in the 1960–70s. Lively debates about the Alans’ antiquities were held and are still being held in the Northern Osetia, Karachai-Cherkessia, and Kabardin-Balkaria. Recently in Krasnodar re-gion and Adygeia, enormous interest in the dolmens has arisen. The region sur-rounding the town Gelendzhika was especially lucky in this regard. The interest was caused not by specialists’ scientific research, but by small books by Vladimir Megre, published as part of the series “Ringing Cedars of Russia” (Megre 1997a, b; 1998). Enjoying great success, these books caused a sensation, not so much among local inhabitants as among vacationers. The dolmens’ sites became a place of pilgrimage, and the monuments themselves, a place of worship. People adorn their foothills with flowers and turn to them with their questions and requests. Such touching scenes were shown once on the television show “Travelers’ Club.” They were so impressive that they attracted the attention of the Dutch archeologist Albert Becker, who was visiting Russia. He managed to visit a “Black Sea Mecca” and photograph “pilgrims” praying near the dolmens (Trifonov 1999).

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Mountains of Abkhazia. Azanta Dolmen from Tengiz Tarba on Vimeo.

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