Today we visited one of the lesser visited sites in Samarkand, the tomb of the prophet Daniel. Daniel is revered by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. Apparently though, there is more than one resting place for Daniel – one of the members of my group said he had seen the other tomb in Susa, Iran, and there are also a few options in Iraq and Turkey as well. As the story goes, Timur wanted to conquer what is now modern-day Syria, but had a tough time of it because Daniel’s body was getting in the way of his achievement. Once he was successful he had the body moved to Samarkand for good luck. Now, whether he brought the body, or a relic (arm perhaps) or just soil from the the original tomb is unknown. As the camels were transporting the remains, they stopped in this location outside of Samarkand and wouldn’t move. So this is where is buried. Once there, a natural spring emerged, which some believed had healing powers. There is also another legend that his bones continue to grow every year (around 5cm a year), but clearly this is false, since he died over 2500 years ago, and thus would be 125m long instead of the current 18m. The truth of the matter is that Timur wanted to make it difficult for would-be robbers to pillage his tomb, so this legend was created.
Daniel’s tomb sits inside a 5-domed mausoleum at the top of a hill. Next to the mausoleum is a rocky bluff that has some caves that I believe were used for prayer or meditation, but they are closed off from the public. Near here is an old olive tree that had withered away, but has started growing again.
The tomb itself is pretty simple. As stated above, it’s pretty long (18m) and covered in a dark green cloth with gold lettering. Other than that (and getting some spring water) there really isn’t much to do in this area.
Monuments: There are a few small buildings and that’s about it.
Grounds: There are a fair number of stairs to the top of the hill, but it’s not too bad. Once you are up there it’s flat and easy to get around.
Visitors: A few. Most visitors were local, or at least not Western tourists. They were quite friendly though and we talked with quite a few of them.
Site: Tomb of Saint Daniel
Established: 15th century
Location: Toshkent yo’li, Samarkand 140164, Uzbekistan
Hours: I’m not sure, but probably from 09:00 until 19:00, like most other places
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