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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tamerlan - a history lesson

Tamerlan and headless victims

One of the Boston bombers had the same name as the 14th-century Turkic Muslim conqueror, 'Tamelane', (Amir Timur-i-lang). Tamerlane had a grisly 'hobby' as he was famous for building pyramids of his victims' heads to celebrate his victories over infidels, (non-believers). 
A 16th century image depicting a scene in 1401 of Mongol soldiers with heads of their decapitated enemies, in front of a tower of heads in Baghdad. Notice the minaret -shape of the tower. Over 90,000 inhabitants of Baghdad slain in cold blood.Timur ordered that every soldier should return with at least two severed human heads to show him. The same happened in Delhi in 1398 and in Isfafan in 1388 , where"it is said that he built a large hill with the skulls of the dead. "
No doubt that Tamelane was adhering to a lot of the 109 Quranic verses that call for war with non-believers, in order to apply Islamic rule. Nor was Tamelane the only Muslim warrior to have a fondness for stacking up the heads of their victims, as part of a planned & widespread use of terror.

Lets take a trip round Europe, first stop Serbia.  There is a most unusual tower in  Niš, known as Ćele Kula, the tower of skulls.   It was built in 1809 not as a monument of celebration but as a threat by the Ottomans as a deterrent for anyone considering defying the Ottoman Empire.

There was an uprising in 1809 between the Ottomans amd their Serbian dhimins, led by Stevan Sinđelić.   There was a battle in Niš and the Serbs eventually lost it, but not before Sinđelić blew up the gunpower magazine, killings thousands in the process.   Following the heavy loss of life, the Ottoman commander gave the order for the heads of of just over 900 Serbian bodies to be removed and be built into a tower. Scalps of others were sent to the Sultan as war trophy.

 "Let them preserve this monument! It will teach their children in the times to come how valuable freedom was to their forefathers and will serve as a constant reminder of the price that was paid for it." French poet Alfons de Lamartin

Now over to Spain,(some 800 years prior to the Serbian battle), during the period of Al-Andalus, where in 1086, decided that after the battle of Zallaqa, he had 24,000 corpses of the defeated Castilians beheaded "and piled them up"  to make a sort of minaret for the muezzins who, standing on the piles of headless cadavers, to call out the praises of Allah.

 Photo: Image: Laurent Massoptier
Next stop- Italy, to be more precise the cathedral of Otranto, where this sight will greet you... of 800 Christians who in July 1480 refused to renounce their Catholic faith and convert to Islam, after the city fell to an Ottoman force under Gedik Ahmed Pasha.

Survivor of the assault fled into the catherdral, where Pasha ordered them to convert to Islam, the Cardinal and the survivors refused and so where put to death on the spot. 

800 survivors were later taken to a hill and beheaded as they too refused to renounce their Christian faith. The remains were taken and placed in the cathedral as a reminder of their martyrdom. Pope Francis will canonise them in May 2013.

Now to Greece, Karaiskakis, a Greek revolutionary decided to do likewise in 1826..  however this time it was the Ottomans' turn to feature on a tower, following their defeat in the battle of ...  It makes you wonder where he got the idea from?  There were many atrocities during the Greek of Independence, such as Chios, Nea Moni monastery, where all inside were slaughteredIndeed, many of their skulls and bones being displayed in a cabinet, to this day at the monastery.

In North Africa:  A tower of skulls, called the Burj-er-Roos were built following the battle of Djerba in 1590, between the Ottomans and Europeans. It apparently was still standing until the 18th century.
Still in North Africa, but this time in Egypt, an 1807 British expedition resulted in "a few hundred spiked British heads left rotting in the sun outside Rosetta".

Where else?  If you know of other places then please add a comment.


  1. Hi, you just missed out 3 known instances of Tower of Skull in India.

    1. Chor Minaret , Hauz khas Delhi : built in 13th century by then king Allauddin Khilji, 225 Holes, Each hole contained one slaughtered skull.

    2. Tower of Skull 1 : Made by Timur Lang in north west India during 1298 invasion. location unknown but mentioned in his autobiography "Tujuk - e - Taimuri"

    3. Tower of Skull 2 & 3: Made by Mugal invader Babur during battle of khanwa and his Malwa, Central India invasion in 1530. He mentioned this Tower in his autobiograpy "BaburNama" (One pyramid of skull at bannu country, todays Afganistan)

    4. Tower of Skull 4: in 1556 after the battle Panipat, Akbar commissioned erection of a Skull Tower of skulls of Hemu Army.

    5. Tower of skull 5: Made by Mugal Emperor Aurangzeb, during his reign,

  2. You could also add the "tzompantlis" from the mayas and mexicas.

    And during the Islamic conquest of Spain, Muslims erected a skull tower after the battle of Sagrajas (Zalaca or Zalaqqa), in the year 1086. And held their prayers there.