According to Zoroastrian tradition, since death is considered to result from the act of the evil spirit Ahriman, dead bodies are believed to be impure. Thus, in order to avoid contaminating the sacred basic elements of earth, water and fire, corpses are laid out in the sun to be consumed by carrion birds in a process known as excarnation. The structures built for this process have been referred to by a number of different names over the centuries, including dagdah, doongerwadi, or Towers of Silence. They represent a specific architectural type designed for death from one of the world’s oldest religions.
Typically, a tower of silence (the oldest of which date from the ninth century) is a circular structure, constructed solidly from materials such as stone, and it is usually located on a hilltop at a carefully calculated distance from the nearest settlement, though urban expansion has since seen some end up in close proximity. The roof consists of three rings circulating around a central well, where the ossuary is located. The outer ring is where male bodies are placed, the middle ring for female bodies and the smaller, inner ring designated for those of children. Once the bodies have been picked clean of flesh, the bones are placed in the well, which is channelled to four deeper wells where the last remains can decompose completely leaving no trace behind of the “unclean” body. p (Sara Faezypour)