Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »
Today Only: 50% off Atlas Obscura books and calendars at Barnes & Noble »

Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Tomb of Daniel at Samarkand

18m long sarcophagus of a constantly growing dead prophet. 

Five domes adorn the long structure that holds an 18m long sarcophagus, reputedly holding the remains of the Old Testament prophet Daniel, revered by Muslims, Jews and Christians alike – although only Christians regard him as a prophet.

This is not the only place that claims to be the final resting place of Daniel. The most widely accepted of these places is in Susa, Iran. Even beyond Uzbekistan and Iran, a couple of cities in Iraq also lay claim to be the final resting place of Daniel – which, since the Bible places Daniel in Babylon, in modern day Iraq, at the time of his death, is not too far-fetched either.

Samarkand seems to be the odd one among the places, that argue to be the real final resting place of Daniel. As legend has it, Timur (Tamerlane) tried to conquer modern day Syria, but successively failed – apparently because the body of Daniel was preventing his success. When he finally succeeded, it is claimed, that he ordered the body to be buried at Samarkand for good luck.

Immediately after he was buried, a natural spring started to sprout, which, naturally, is regarded to have healing powers. But local lore goes even further, stating that the body of Daniel was continually growing at a rate of around 5cm a year. If this was true, the body of Daniel would by now have a length of more than 125m, rather than “just“ 18m, since he died approximately 2500 years ago. However the truth behind the corpse’s growth is that Timur was paranoid about grave robbers and extended the grave to make it harder for potential robbers to pillage the bones.