Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Land of Fire

On Thursday, May 21, we learned the reasoning behind Azerbaijan’s pseudonym: the Land of Fire. Within a forty-minute drive outside Baku we saw a mountain spewing fire called Yanar Dag, one of several mountains in Azerbaijan that erupt in flames when heat and gas combine. The natural gasses from within the Earth ignite when they meet the hot air in the atmosphere, creating the perfect sauna for a photo-op! Everything made sense after we saw the natural fire; with inexplicable flames shooting from the side of a mountain it was no wonder the Azeri people used to worship fire. People tend to explain the inexplicable with either magic or deities, and in this case it was believed that fire was a divine spirit since there was no reason behind it and it provided heat, a way to cook food, and light. This practice of worshipping fire became known as Zoroastrianism.

      We also visited the Ateshkah fire temple just outside of Baku City. The fire was in a circular pit in the temple in the center of the complex, which originally contained rooms for traveling merchants and their horses as a Karvan Sarayi. When Islam became the religion of Azerbaijan around the ninth century, the temple was destroyed. Later, Indian monks and merchants, who still practiced Zoroastrian religion, sponsored the restoration of the temple. Enjoy some pictures of Ateshkah, as it was restored and presented to us.


  1. That fire temple looks so cool!! I wish we had fire temples...I'm jealous

  2. what's the objective of this program? what do people get to study? are credits transferable back to US? is tehre a way to extend this program to other schools?

  3. @Anonymous. The faculty are Education-based and the program is focused on learning about schools, teachers and learners in Azerbaijan. Students have a field placement and teach lessons in Azeri classes. Participants may elect to receive university credit and it is possible that students from other universities might be bale to join the progrm. Email one (or more) of the faculty listed on the side bar to the left to find out specifics! Search the Clemson University webpage for those of us whose email is not listed.