The spurs of Chechnya’s impregnable mountains conceal unique monuments of the ancient world that remain virtually unexplored to this day. These mysterious “stone minarets” attract the attention of speleologists and archaeologists from all over the world, who strive to uncover their secrets. A group of speleologists from the Crimean branch of the Russian Geographical Society went on expeditions to Chechnya to explore the caves and grottoes of the region and find unique artifacts that may shed light on the history of the Chechen people.
During three expeditions, the speleologists managed to discover several dozen rock crypts, but they are sure that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of such places here. They also explored three underground “cities of the dead” – Vilakh, Terkhi and Yalkharoi. These necropolises, half looted by unknown people, are amazing in their architecture and findings. The floors of the caves are lined with bones and skulls from uncovered crypts, making them particularly interesting to researchers.
Geologist and speleologist Gennady Samokhin, the expedition’s inspirer, is convinced that exploring these places can shed light on the history of the Chechen people. He also believes that these caves could become a tourist Mecca of the republic, attracting people from all over the world.
Specialists believe that hundreds of artifacts can be found in the rocky necropolises: weapons, fragments of ringlets, utensils and luxury items, and jewelry. They also note that petroglyphs found on the walls of the tombs indicate that these “cities of the dead” may date back to the II – IV centuries BC. These rock paintings are unique to Russia and can provide valuable information about the ancient peoples who inhabited these places.
However, there is one problem that worries scientists – looters and plunderers of tombs. Because of this, scientists are in no hurry to reveal the location of the unique caves. They are afraid that valuable artifacts can be stolen and get on the black market. Gennady Samokhin expressed hope that in the future it will be possible to conduct full-scale excavations and preserve these unique finds.
The Argun State Museum-Reserve is assisting Crimean speleologists in their efforts to study the mountains of Chechnya. Thanks to the joint efforts of specialists, unique tourist routes may appear in this region in the next ten years, which will attract adventure and history lovers.