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The Secret of the Wicked Remnants of Chegem

In the mid-18th century, shepherds from Kabardino-Balkaria accidentally discovered a tomb with strange mummies and many gold ornaments. When they started robbing the cave, they heard a voice warning of revenge.

On April 3, 1767, the Kizlar Commandant, Major General NA Potapov, sent a very unusual report to the Synod of Governments. In view of the fact that the language has undergone significant changes since then, we will pass on the contents of the document in our own words.

And so:

“… One of the inhabitants of the Chegem’s Gorge (Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria) says he found a pit three kilometers from the sheep grazing site and had a door in it. Walking into it, he saw an elderly man and a girl sitting unresponsive. There was a book in front of the old man, and there was a golden pan in front of the girl, and many gold and silver things in it. The girl wore a gold ring on one finger.

The Chegem Mountains

This resident told six of his comrades and they went to the place. They took all the gold and silver that were there. When they reached to take the gold ring, the girl told them not to, because death would come to them.

However, the shepherds did not listen to her, took the treasures and took them to their village. For three nights, a voice was heard in the village, saying that those who had taken the treasure should bring it back, otherwise all the inhabitants would be in trouble. The shepherds returned some of the treasures to the pit, and the man and girl were no longer there.

On the fourth night, all the shepherds and their families die. After that, other peasants die.

Captain Kireev and a special commission have been dispatched to the scene with an order to investigate the unusual death of Chegem residents. ”

Captain Kireev reported the following:

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“The landowner Kasai Atazukin and the resident of Chegem – Barak Beshtov, told me that an infection had occurred in the fall because of a shepherd from Chegem. As he grazed his sheep in the mountains, he accidentally stumbled and fell into a pit where he saw a door.

As he entered it, he saw many treasures, several crosses of gold and silver, and two incorruptible bodies: a man in a monastic robe and a woman, apparently a girl. The shepherd told this to his comrades, who went to the place, took many treasures, and finally, when they began to remove the ring from the girl’s hand, they heard an unusual voice forbidding them to take the treasures.

However, they did not obey and took whatever they wanted. They brought the treasures to their homes, and then one by one, they all died, along with their wives and children. Only two months later, twenty people died. The other inhabitants took the rest of the treasure back, made worship rituals, and only then the infection subsided.

I ordered Mr Colonel Kopitowski and Mr Peter Davidov, who was in those places, to check the place where the bodies were found and to find out without touching anything. ”

Nikolai Potapov’s report contained an urgent request to send an experienced missionary, Georgian Abbot Gregory, to help him. In May 1767, the relevant Decree was issued.

Abbot Gregory was reportedly summoned to the Holy Synod’s office on May 20, where he was asked to go to the Caucasus to investigate “the human incorruptible bodies found in the dugout.” There is also a statement in the document: “ From the report sent to the Holy Synod by Major General Mr. Potapov, take an exact copy and send it to the College of Foreign Affairs for review. 

It will be appropriate here to clarify that the Synod is the highest authority of the Russian Orthodox Church, which was part of the national government and was committed to the spread of Christianity.

The Doctor of History – V. Vinogradov, writes:

“The history is not hidden: in those years, the so-called Ossetian spiritual mission, at the behest of the Russian government, began the active propaganda of Christianity among the highlands of the Central Caucasus.


Ancient Tombs in Eltyubyu, Chegem. Photo by Alex Svirkin / wikimedia.org

Unfortunately, no documentary sequel to the Chegem story has ever been found, although many documents have been reviewed and researched. The name of the Kizlar commandant Potapov is mentioned on their pages quite often, as well as reports on events in Kabarda. The name of the abbot Gregory is also mentioned, but not a word about the relics themselves and their fate.

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It also remains unknown what happened to the treasure – the gold pot, the ring, the other gold and silver items that the shepherds returned to the crypt.

It is very likely that the sacred relics of the mummies of the old man and the girl are in one of the underground tombs in the Chegem area. Who will be the next one to find the entrance to the crypt and hear the unusual warning?

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