Return to Lerik 3: The Graveyard of Centenarians

There were about two-hundred grave markers in the little graveyard outside the village of Janganmiran. It was a beautiful spot, high in the Talysh mountains, tree-shaded, with views over beautiful bare-headed mountains and well-watered valleys.

Grave marker in the form of a Ram

Some of the tomb-stones are reputed to date back to pre-Islamic times, made in the form of rams and decorated posts but the real interest in amongst the more recent stones, near the road.

Six, mark the last resting place of people who were over one-hundred years old when they died. Something like one person in every 1,500 reach the age of one-hundred years old worldwide, so this is far beyond the statistical average. Why should it be?  

This resident of the cemetery was born in 1875 and checked out of this world in 1986.

Shirali Muslimov died in 1973 having been born [supposedly] in 1805, making him an amazing 168 when he died.

Gerontologists have studied the population for decades and according to Sevinj Huseinova, a biologist who used to work at the Laboratory of Long Life at the Institute of Physiology in Baku, an extraordinary number of people do live long lives here, a long life being in excess of 110 years. This is probably because of a combination of factors; genetic, diet, exercise and the wonderful clean mountain air.

“Eat yogurt along with garlic and mint”, said Chingiz Gasimov, the laboratory director back in 2001 when he was interviewed by Azerbaijan International magazine. “Eat cilantro and chives, saffron and tarragon, and sumakh, a red spice made from dried berries”.

Mind you, Shirali Muslimov would have disagreed, he hated yoghurt and drank a glass of vodka every day!

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About stevehollier

Steve Hollier is the editor of AZ Magazine, an English language lifestyle magazine based in Baku, Azerbaijan. He began his career working for a firm of stockbrokers in the City of London then went on to attend the University of Essex where he was awarded an MA in Sociology in 1984. After a career in arts and cultural development work, he became a freelance arts consultant, writer and photographer.
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