Architectural features of the Maiden Tower. Part 3.

Ceramic pipe inside the tower was intended to transport celestial water.

The pipe composed of nested ceramic sections is laid inside the tower from the top floor to the bottom. There are special niches, providing an outlet to the pipe on each floor. The purpose of the pipe was interpreted differently. Proponents of the tower defence concept argued that this was a sewer pipe, which had been used during the siege. But the internal of the pipe is clean and chemical analysis of ceramics found no signs of sewage. According to another version the pipe was fed up gas. This version also could not be true. Firstly, there had been no any gas deposit under the tower and around (proved geologically). Secondly, ceramic conical sections of the pipe nested within each other with the narrow parts down. So the pipe was intended to transport from the top down, and not vice versa.

As it is known the tower has not got floors originally. Each level had only about half a meter wide annular projections along the walls with special grooves for water. From these troughs the water collected in the tower (atmospheric humidity), from each seven levels dripped to the ceramic pipe. A special system for water collection was set up at the bottom of the tower (see below). It is obvious that the collection of this pure sky water, essentially distilled water, had some ritual meaning. During the "restoration" outlets to the pipe on each level have been converted, and electrical communication laid within the pipe. According to old drawings in the 1920's outlets to the pipe from each level were already partially broken down and the gaps were 15-25 cm. Later on these gaps in the niches have been increased and now they reach up to one meter in height.

The pipe is laid inside the tower from the top floor to the bottom. The pipe composed of nested ceramic sections Niches with the trough outlets to the pipe

The ground floor of the tower served as a reservoir for storing water.

As you know, initially there was no entrance to the tower on the first floor, and the current entrance was opened later. Thus, the ground floor was as a closed tank without windows and doors with different height from other floors. Given that the ceramic pipe (which transported liquid) had opening on the ground floor, it can be said that the ground floor served as a pool for collecting water. Other features of the tower also work in favour of this version. There is no staircase from the ground to the second floor. This suggests that there was no need to go down to the ground floor - there was water pool, and it could be accessed from above. Wall thickness at the base of the tower is 5 meters. This thickness is not needed for the stability of the tower. It is enough to indicate that the walls thickness of the other towers of Absheron, which were built in defensive purposes, much less (up to 2 meters). Perhaps such a wall thickness of the Maiden Tower was needed to reduce permeability and maintain moisture inside.

The ground floor served as a reservoir for water. Access to it was from above. The scan shows that the inside of the tower is conical, which allows water to accumulate on the ground floor


Source of water in a stone pit was the atmospheric moisture collected in the tower.

Another important observation has to do with a water well located on the third level. A cutaway section of the well descending down to an enlarged cavern in the solid rock 12 meters below the tower. Now there is no water in the well and it is likely that underground springs have never been the source of water in the well. Old City is poor in groundwater, and no ground water in the vicinity of Maiden's Tower. The most probably that the source of water in the well was the atmospheric moisture (rain, condensation), collected in the tower. Moisture, accumulated on the levels, dripped to a ceramic pipe, laid from top to the bottom of the tower. Ceramic pipe was opened to the first floor and from there water flowed into the well. After "restoration" when the floors were built and water collection system were destroyed, water disappeared from the well.

One end of the well opens on the third floor, the other goes below the tower. Well water was collected within the tower and transported by a ceramic pipe. Stone well within the tower

At the bottom of the well there was a passage to the first floor.

If we assume that the water transported by a ceramic pipe to the first floor (ground level) then filled the well, the well would have to be somehow connected to the first floor. To test the link between well and first floor Ronnie Gallagher and Abbas Islamov lowered a camera from the top of the well and took pictures. As a result, the passage was discovered at the bottom of the well at ground level. Visitors cannot see this well access from the ground level as it was enclosed during the "restoration" and hidden.

Circle shows the passage to the well from the ground level. The photo taken from inside the well indicates the passage

There was a system of celestial water catchments inside the tower

If we consider that the ceramic pipe in the tower worked as a transportation system of moisture/water, then the question arises about the source of the moisture. Primarily, this could be celestial precipitation as rain and snow. Inside of the tower expands to the top: the diameter of the construction on the ground level is 6.25 meters, and 7meters on the top. The hollow tower hasn't had a roof and has been designed to collect rainwater. Rainwater easily penetrated inside the tower, ran down the walls to the gutters on the annular projections along the walls on the 7 levels. This water flowed down to the ground level by ceramic pipe and accumulated in the stone well.

Quite possibly there was also a second source of water - water condensing from the air in the form of dew. The tower is located on the sea side with high humidity, which condenses as dew in the mornings. Thick walls and the height of the tower created a large temperature difference between outside and inside of the tower, which also increased the condensation of moisture. Here we can put forward an assumption that is very real, but needs additional verification. The upper ribbed part of the tower, which has protrusions and depressions, also participated in the collection of moisture (such as condensate and rainwater). The ribbed part increases the surface of the wall and also let water flow into the cracks between the stones and penetrate inside the tower. How this water seeped through the thickness of the walls, and what was a system of drainage (gutters, pipes, or just oozed through the walls) is not yet known, but the existence of such a system is very likely. One may note that unlike the bottom of the tower the stones on the ribbed side are not fit tightly to each other and have some gaps.

Inside of the tower expands to the top. The ribbed part increases the surface of the wall for water collection. The stones on the ribbed side are not fit tightly to each other and have some gaps.

If we accept the version of moisture collection through the ribbed surface of the tower, then we can explain why the rib part was smeared with lime mortar on the back (northeast) side of the tower. We know that extensive fortification works happen in Baku in the XII century. By this time the Maiden Tower had already lost its cult appointment, and noticeably deteriorated. The tower was included into the fortification system and some repair work was done on the tower. One of the features of construction was water penetrating through the wall inside. At this time to reduce the input of moisture, the entire rear wall of the tower, which faces north, north-east, has been smeared with lime mortar. Some old stones were also replaced during these works - they can be determined by the lime mortar along the edges. With the same lime mortar the plate with an inscription was strengthened on the front wall. The plate probably immortalized the name of the person who led the repair works: "Gubba (dome, vault) of Masud ibn Dawood".

The bottom of the tower was designed as water collector with a special system of drainage.

Maiden Tower stays on a large rock. Entrance to the tower is not located at the rock base and lifted off the ground. Thus, space inside the tower from the bedrock to the entry level is formed a reservoir. Excavations inside the tower, conducted in 1962, showed that the height of the reservoir is 2-2,5 meters, and it was filled with large stones and rubbles. Thus, the floor level was raised to the level of the entrance with rocks and stones, and at the same time, the foundation has been established sufficiently porous surface to collect water. Water collected in the tower flowed to first floor by a ceramic tube and accumulated in this reservoir, and then it filled the stone well.

During heavy rainfall the water could fill the well and the reservoir, and then there would be further flooding. Lest this happen the ancient architect has provided a special system of drainage. At the bottom of the tower just under the entrance there is a special channel created in the thick wall, which offtake the excess water out to the external well. Thus, even with heavy rainfall, the water level inside the tower does not exceed a certain point, located below the floor level.

The channel under the entrance offtake the excess water out to the external well. The bottom of the tower. 1 - entrance to the tower, 2 - ceramic pipe, channel for excess water, 4 - stone well inside the tower wall, 5 - stones and rubbles, 6- external well, 7 - pass to the well

© Copyright Faig Nasibov, 2008,