Anthropologists have put forth a theory that the reason why an Iranian cemetery has penis-shaped tombstones is that it may be connected to a culture from Central Asia or India that practised phallic worship, but there is little evidence to support this theory.
Let us introduce you to the Khalid Nabi cemetery as you have probably not recently travelled to Iran and are almost certain to have never been to one of its cemeteries.
When you think of a cemetery, you typically picture crowded tombs, but this peculiar cemetery isn’t at all like that. There are gravestones that resemble male genitalia there, amid a mountainous region surrounded by many lush hills.
The cemetery is situated in a mountainous region in northern Iran, close to the Turkmenistan border. There are several grave markers there, most of them are in the form of the male genital organ.
Although there is little evidence to support this theory, anthropologists who have tried to examine the site think that the cemetery may be connected to a culture from Central Asia or India that practised phallic worship (worship of the male genitalia and the forces of reproduction).
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These tombs, according to local tradition, are those of individuals who were cursed by the gods for their transgressions and belonged to fetishists hundreds of years ago.
Khaled, a Yemeni Christian prophet, was buried in the cemetery in the fourth century. Hundreds of Turkmen visit him on pilgrimage each year, leaving ribbons at his grave. Every year, a significant number of tourists come to this location, but it seems they are not there for religious purposes.
The site apparently experienced vandalism and theft in 2015. The Iranian cultural body has since granted the site protected status.
A Roman-era phallic engraving was discovered in August by researchers from the Museo Histórico Local de Nueva Carteya in Spain’s Córdoba.
The existence of the tombstones is believed to be humiliating given that Iran is a very devout and conservative nation and it is unclear why they were built in this manner or how long they have been there.
Phallic imagery was widespread in ancient Roman culture because it was thought to fend off evil that preys on children or provide safety from wandering men’s evil eyes.
According to the study, the carving was discovered near the location of El Higuerón, an Iberian settlement that was first inhabited from the 4th century BCE until the Romans conquered it about 206 BCE.