The Twilight Zone:
Yakutia: Valley of Death [part two]
Hidden Mysteries of Siberia
In part two of this fascinating article, Dr Valery Uvarov, the head of the Department of UFO Research, Palaeosciences and Palaeotechnology of the National Security Academy of Russia, examines the phenomena involved in the mysterious phenomena associated with Yakutia.
A. Gutenev and Yu. Mikhailovsky, two researchers who lived in the town of Mirny in Yakutia, reported that in 1971 an old hunter belonging to the Evenk people had said that in the area between two rivers known as Niugun Bootur ("fiery champion") and Atadarak ("place with a three-sided harpoon"), there is poking out of the ground the very thing that gave the place its name—a "very big" three-faceted iron harpoon—while in the area between two rivers known as Kheliugur ("iron people"), there is an iron burrow in which lie "thin, black, one-eyed people in clothes of iron". He said that he could take people there, that it was not far away, but no-one believed him. In the meantime, he died.
The Fiery Giant
One more of these objects was, to all appearances, covered after the building of a dam on the Viliuy, slightly below the Erbiie. According to the account of one of the builders of the Viliuy hydro-electric project, when they constructed a diversion canal and drained the main channel they discovered in it a convex metal "spot". Deadlines were pressing and after a cursory inspection of the find the project managers gave orders for work to continue.
There is a host of tales from people who came across similar constructions by accident, but without precise directions it is extremely difficult to find these again in the depressingly monotonous terrain.
Once some old men said that flowing in the place called Tong Duurai is a stream called Ottoamokh ("holes in the ground") and that around it there are incredibly deep openings known as "the laughing chasms". That same name also crops up in legends that state that this is the dwelling of a fiery giant who destroys everything around. Roughly every six or seven centuries, a monstrous "fireball" bursts out from there and it either flies off somewhere into the distance and (judging by the chronicles and legends of other peoples) explodes there, or it explodes directly above its exit point—as a result of which, the area for hundreds of kilometres around has been reduced to a scorched desert with shattered rocks.
Yakut legends contain many references to explosions, fiery whirlwinds and blazing spheres rising into the air. And all those phenomena are somehow or other associated with the mysterious metal constructions found in the Valley of Death. Some of them are large, round, "iron houses" standing on numerous lateral supports. They have neither windows nor doors, only a "spacious manhole" at the top of the dome. Some of them have sunk almost completely into the permafrost, with only a barely noticeable arch-like protuberance remaining on the surface. Witnesses who are strangers to each other describe this "resounding metal house" in the same way. Other objects scattered across the area are the metallic hemispherical lids that cover something unknown. Yakut legends say that the mysterious blazing spheres are produced by "an orifice belching smoke and fire" with a "banging steel lid".
This is also the source for the fiery whirlwinds that from the descriptions sound very similar to the effects of present-day atomic explosions. Roughly a century before each explosion or series of explosions, a fast-flying fiery sphere emerged from the "iron orifice" and, without causing great damage, soared upwards in the form of a thin column of fire. At the top of this, a very large fireball appeared. Accompanied by four claps of thunder in succession, it soared to an even greater height and flew off, leaving behind a long "trail of smoke and fire". Then a cannonade of its explosions sounded in the distance...
In the 1950s, the Soviet military cast an eye over this area, evidently due to the exceptionally sparse population on its northern fringes, and conducted a series of atomic tests there. One of the explosions produced a great puzzle, and foreign specialists are still speculating about it. As the German radio station Deutsche Welle reported in September 1991 that, when a 10-kilogram nuclear device was being tested in 1954, for unknown reasons the size of the explosion exceeded the calculations by a factor of 2,000 to 3,000, reaching 20–30 megatons, as was registered by seismic laboratories around the world. The cause of such a significant discrepancy in the power of the explosion remained unclear. The newsagency TASS put out an announcement that a compact hydrogen bomb had been tested in airburst conditions, but it later emerged that this was incorrect. After the tests, restricted zones were established in the area and secret work was carried out for some years.
Myths and Legends
Let us try to look into the distant past as it is reflected in epic poetry. As the legends passed on by word of mouth testify, in the remote period when everything began, the area was inhabited by a small number of Tungus nomads. Once upon a time, their distant neighbours saw that their land was suddenly wrapped in impenetrable darkness and the surroundings were shaken by a deafening roar. A hurricane of unseen force arose and the land was riven by mighty blows. Lightning crossed the sky in all directions. When everything calmed down and the darkness dispersed, an unprecedented sight met the nomads' eyes. In the midst of the scorched land, glowing in the sun stood a tall vertical structure that was visible at a distance of many days' journey.
For a long time, the structure gave out unpleasant, ear-splitting noises and gradually diminished in height until it disappeared under the ground altogether. In place of the tall structure there was an immense, yawning, vertical "orifice". In the strange words of the legends, it consisted of three tiers of "laughing chasms". Its depths supposedly contained an underground country with its own sun that was, however, "waning". A choking stench rose from the orifice, and so no-one settled near it. From a distance, people could sometimes see a "rotating island" appear above the opening, and this then proved to be its "banging lid". Those who were tempted by curiosity to take a closer look never returned.
Centuries went by. Life went on as before. Nobody anticipated anything extraordinary, but one day a small earthquake occurred and the sky was pierced by a thin "fiery whirlwind". At the top of it, a dazzling fireball appeared. Accompanied by "a succession of four thunderclaps" and leaving behind a trail of fire, this sphere shot off along a shallow downward trajectory and, after vanishing beyond the horizon, exploded. The nomads were perturbed but did not abandon the lands that were home to them, since the "demon" had not caused them any harm but had exploded over the lands of the hostile neighbouring tribe. A few decades later, events repeated themselves: the fireball flew off in the same direction and again destroyed only their neighbours. Evidently this "demon" was in some way their protector and they began to create legends about it, calling it Niurgun Bootur, "the fiery champion".
But some time later, events occurred that horrified those in even the most distant surroundings. A gigantic fireball emerged from the opening with a deafening, thunderous roar and exploded—right overhead! A tremendous earthquake ensued. Some hills were cut across by a crack more than 100 metres deep. Following the explosion, a "fire-raging sea" continued to swash about with a disc-like "rotating island" above it. The effects of the explosion extended over a radius of more than a thousand kilometres. The nomadic tribes which survived on the edges of the area fled in different directions, seeking to distance themselves from the fatal spot, but that did save them from death. They all succumbed to some kind of strange illness that was passed on only by inheritance. Yet they left behind them precise accounts of what had taken place, on the basis of which Yakut storytellers began to compose beautiful, exceptionally tragic legends.
The fireball of Niurgun Bootur
A little over 600 years passed. Many generations of nomads had come and gone. The precepts of the remote ancestors had been forgotten and people again settled the area.
Then history repeated itself… The fireball of Niurgun Bootur appeared above a fiery whirlwind and again flew off to explode beyond the horizon. A few decades later, a second fireball rent the air (now it was called Kiun Erbiie ("the gleaming aerial herald" or "messenger"). Then came another devastating explosion that the legends again anthropomorphised. It was given the name Uot Usumu Tong Duurai, which can be roughly translated as "the criminal stranger who pierced the earth and hid in the depths, destroying all around with a fiery whirlwind".
It is important to note that on the eve of the flight of the negative hero Tong Duurai, there appeared in the sky the messenger of the heavenly Dyesegei—the champion Kiun Erbiie who crossed the firmament as a "falling star" or "dashing lightning" so as to warn Niurgun Bootur of the coming battle.
The most significant event in the legends was Tong Duurai bursting forth from the underground depths and doing battle with Niurgun Bootur. This took place roughly as follows: firstly, a snake-like, branching, fiery whirlwind burst forth from the "orifice", on the top of which there again appeared a fireball of gigantic size which, after several peals of thunder, shot high into the air. He was accompanied in flight by his retinue—"a swarm of fatally bloody whirlwinds" that wrought havoc in the vicinity.
But there were occasions when Tong Duurai encountered Niurgun Bootur above the place where he took off; and following these, the area remained lifeless for a long time. The picture painted of these events varies quite considerably: several "fiery champions" might emerge from the opening at once, fly some distance and explode in one place. This happened with the flight of Tong Duurai. A study of the soil layers indicates that the interval between explosions does not exceed 600–700 years.
The legends vividly reflect these events, but the absence of a written tradition means that they have not been registered in documentary form. It seems, though, that this lacuna is compensated for by the historical chronicles of other peoples.
The Chronicles of Other Peoples
Altogether, at approximate intervals of 600–700 years, several explosions or, rather, a whole complex of events including the precursors, took place. All these occurrences were painstakingly recorded in epic poetry, traditions and legends. It is a curious fact that similar legends arose in the equatorial zone of the planet, where explosions or "giant fireballs" that suddenly appeared in the sky destroyed several centres of ancient civilisations.
Judging by the results of archaeological investigations carried out in the Upper Viliuy region by S. A. Fedoseyeva, the intermittent, wave-like settlement of this territory can be traced back roughly to the fourth millennium BC. In the first millennium AD, the line of historical development is interrupted—and this does not contradict the possible date for the last historical explosion as September 1380. The cloud it raised blotted out the Sun over Europe for several hours. In several geo-active zones, powerful earthquakes took place.
This event is recorded in written sources. In Russian chronicles, it coincided with the Battle of Kulikovo Field:
"…the gloom dispersed only in the second half of the day. A wind of such strength blew, that an arrow shot from a bow could not fly against it…"
This factor made a positive contribution to the Russian victory.
However, the explosions are described in Tungus legends far more vividly than in other sources. Judging by the accounts, they were many times worse than modern nuclear weapons.
If we take 1380 as our starting date and go back into the past, we can trace such moments. In 830, for example, the culture of the Mayans who inhabited the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico was destroyed. Many of their cities were reduced to ruins by an explosion of monstrous force.
Some passages in the Bible are akin to the Yakut legends, e.g., the description of the plagues of Egypt and the demise of Sodom and Gomorrah. In one of the oases of the Arabian Peninsula, an ancient town was destroyed and literally reduced to ashes. According to legend, this took place when a huge fireball that appeared in the sky exploded.
At Mohenjo-daro on the Indian subcontinent, archaeologists discovered a devastated city. The marks of the catastrophe—melted stone walls—clearly pointed to an explosion comparable with a nuclear bomb. Similar events are also described in Chinese chronicles from the 14th century. They say that, far to the north, a black cloud rose above the horizon and covered half the sky, scattering large fragments of stone. Stones also dropped from the sky in Scandinavia and Germany, where fire broke out in several towns. Scholars established that they were quite ordinary stones, and conjectured that a volcano had erupted somewhere.
Perhaps the cause of these misfortunes was really Tong Duurai who has been bursting out from under the ground for many centuries? While Niurgun Bootur blotted out half of the sky at his appearance, Tong Duurai considerably exceeded him in size and, ascending into the heavens, completely disappeared from view.
We note that in the Valley of Death, a rise in the background radiation is observed at certain intervals of time—a phenomenon that specialists can't explain.
In part three of this fascinating article, Valery Uvaroz explores the mysterious periodical destructive events associated with Yakutia, and notes that eerily similar events have been detailed in the writings of ancient cultures across the world.
Read part three of Yakutia: Valley of Death.