Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oil and Gas, Fire and Religion

Oil is the principle basis of the wealth of Baku, both now and in the past. The landscape north of Baku in the Abseron Peninsula is one of the locations that made the Nobels and Rothschilds rich in the first oil boom at the end of the 19th Century.

It is a scene of desolation, of nodding donkeys as far as the eye can see, not helped by the grey sky from which came steady rain that turned the soil to a heavy mix of oil and mud. To the south of Baku is a similar field that is called the James Bond Oil Field as that's where they filmed one of the series.

But the natural resource made Baku money even further back in history. Along with oil there is also gas, and this gas in places finds its way to the surface where it can catch fire.

And one such place can be found at the so called "Fire Mountain" or Yanar Dag (below) where a ribbon of rock burns continuously.

To be honest while amazing it was a modest site, with the ribbon of fire at the bottom of a ditch in a field, not a mountain in any stretch of the imagination.

But fire has caught the imagination of us humans since the dawn of time and was a central part of both Zoroastrianism and Hinduism. And so its natural that these ever lasting fires have been a magnet for these religions.

Just north of Baku is the Atesgah Fire Temple within which once burnt one of these fires, and which was a magnet for pilgrims from as far away as India.

Now alas the over exploitation of the oil field led to the natural flame going out and the ones you can see in the picture above come from the mains gas supply.


Greg and Kris said...

I'm loving my virtual tour of Azerbaijan. Enjoying it this morning with my 7 y/o daughter.

JP said...

Many thanks - say hi to your daughter from me.

I hope you you both find the posts about the next bit of the trip (which have just completed) even more interesting - watch this space!

Alejandra M said...

Amazing stuff. Please post more.