This structure is part of the Zoroastrians ritual process for their dead. It is known in the religion as something called a “Tower of Silence.”
As I mentioned above, “ritual exposure was a big part of the Zoroastrian religion. It was used from the time the religion was started, however Towers of Silence did not start popping up until early in the 9th century.
The rituals surrounding the exposure that the Zoroastrians practiced dates to sometimes between the 3rd and 7th century BCE.
Well Zoroastrians believed that dead bodies were symbols of decay. It is actually believed that a corpse demon rushes into a dead body and causes decay in everything it comes in contact with. Since these people believe that Earth and fire are considered sacred to the religion, a corpse could not be allowed to pollute any of them. Thus, burial and cremation were not options for the people who followed Zoroastrianism. This is what gave rise to the practice of ritual exposure.
The towers themselves are actually very simple and modest. They definitely stand out against the desert landscape of Iran however.
So what exactly is “ritual exposure”? It is the practice of allowing a corpse to be exposed to the elements, as well as carrion birds.
The layout of these structures is rather unique. A high circular wall rings the entire site. Concentric circles make up the inside, with bodies being placed in each other of the rectangles that ring the outside of the circles. Men are placed on the top circle, women on the second, and children on the third.
These places are actually known by the Persian name of Dakhma, or “Place for the dead”.