Western Caucasian Dolmens, V.I. Markovin

Western Caucasian Dolmens, V.I. Markovin

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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

Vladimir Ivanovich MARKOVIN

Western Caucasian Dolmens
Mysticism, Scientific Opinions,
and Perspectives on Further Study

If a scientific thought has sustained the touchstone of criticism,
it will remain a link in the golden chain of knowledge. 

—Arnold Joseph Toynbee, A Study of Historya

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 region and Adygeia, enormous interest in the dolmens has arisen. The region surrounding 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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