The descendants of biblical noah

Source: BBC

  • By Daniel Moritz-Rabson

Azerbaijan’s highest town

Nestled in the Greater Caucasus mountains, Azerbaijan’s highest town of Khinaliq is swirled in mystery and folklore. Archaeological and historical studies indicate that the population’s ancestors moved to the town’s current location around 2,000 years ago. Certain journalists covering the region, however, have conjectured that locals can trace their ancestry back 5,000 years to the Albanian Caucus period. And a local legend names the residents as living descendants of biblical Noah. (Credit: Oleksandr Rupeta/Getty Images)

Isolation and diversity (Credit: Credit: Oleksandr Rupeta/Getty Images)

Isolation and diversity

The town is located in Azerbaijan’s Quba district, a northeastern region of rich cultural and ethnic diversity. Distinct ethnic communities of Mountain Jews, Tats and Lezgins reside on the mountains’ lower slopes, with Khinalig perched above. All the mountain communities pride themselves on their identities. (Credit: Oleksandr Rupeta/Getty Images)

Stand alone (Credit: Credit: Oleksandr Rupeta/Getty Images)

Stand alone

“They told us ‘we are not Azerbaijani’,” said Getty photographer Oleksandr Rupeta, who visited Khinaliq in September as part of a project documenting the ethnic diversity in Quba. (Credit: Oleksandr Rupeta/Getty Images)

Linguistically unique (Credit: Credit: Oleksandr Rupeta/Getty Images)

Linguistically unique

Here, the local language is Khinalug, which is exclusive to the area. But Unesco has labelled it severely endangered as only the small number of Khinaliq residents speak it.

However, the language still has hope for survival. Khinaliq’s secondary school – attended by more than 300 local children – offers lessons in Khinalug alongside Azerbaijani and English. (Credit: Oleksandr Rupeta/Getty Images)

Longstanding traditions (Credit: Credit: Oleksandr Rupeta/Getty Images)

Longstanding traditions

The wedding rituals in Khinaliq are strictly mandated by standards passed down through the generations. To commemorate a marriage, the family of the bride flays a bull carcass, stripping the meat. Tea is served during the process.

“Drinking tea [is] like a ritual,” Rupeta said. “It’s very important in their culture.” (Credit: Oleksandr Rupeta/Getty Images)

A constrained diet (Credit: Credit: Oleksandr Rupeta/Getty Images)

A constrained diet

The town’s extreme elevation prevents the successful cultivation of many crops. As such, locals grow staples, such as potatoes, and subsist on a simple diet that incorporates a number of simple grains. Townsfolk boast of their unique recipe for lavash, a flatbread commonly found throughout the Caucasus region and Western Asia. It’s baked over fire using a special pan, and the townswomen can prepare a week’s supply in two hours. (Credit: Oleksandr Rupeta/Getty Images)

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