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Alone In The Mountains Of Daghestan -- The Last Inhabitant Of An Abandoned Village

  • Alexander Fedorov
A dirt road to the village of Khyurdabakh runs under a crumbling wall made of stone, clay, and sand. If you look up, you will see decrepit houses looming overhead. The village has long been abandoned by its residents, except for one woman.

Patimat Musalmagomedova throws dirty water out of her house in Khyurdabakh, in the mountains of Daghestan. She is the last permanent resident of the village.
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Patimat Musalmagomedova throws dirty water out of her house in Khyurdabakh, in the mountains of Daghestan. She is the last permanent resident of the village.

Khyurdabakh means "the village on the rock." It is not connected to utility systems. In the 1970s, there were still people living in the village, but later they moved down to the valley.
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Khyurdabakh means "the village on the rock." It is not connected to utility systems. In the 1970s, there were still people living in the village, but later they moved down to the valley.

Musalmagomedova refuses to move out on principle. This is the village where she was born, spent her whole life, and wants to die.
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Musalmagomedova refuses to move out on principle. This is the village where she was born, spent her whole life, and wants to die.

Musalmagomedova is a member of the Avar community, Daghestan's largest ethnic minority. The Avars have traditionally lived in villages around 2,000 meters above sea level.
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Musalmagomedova is a member of the Avar community, Daghestan's largest ethnic minority. The Avars have traditionally lived in villages around 2,000 meters above sea level.

Musalmagomedova walks into her house. The deserted houses in the village deteriorate very quickly. Her home is at the end of a street piled with the debris of other houses.
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Musalmagomedova walks into her house. The deserted houses in the village deteriorate very quickly. Her home is at the end of a street piled with the debris of other houses.

Musalmagomedova watches her daughter crushing apricot stones. Her daughter does not live here but comes to help as much as she can.
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Musalmagomedova watches her daughter crushing apricot stones. Her daughter does not live here but comes to help as much as she can.

Musalmagomedova's grandson plays with a goat. He goes to school two kilometers from the village.
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Musalmagomedova's grandson plays with a goat. He goes to school two kilometers from the village.

As well as watching her cattle, Musalmagomedova mends the sheds and coops.
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As well as watching her cattle, Musalmagomedova mends the sheds and coops.

A view of the cemetery in the (nearly) abandoned Daghestani village of Khyurdabakh.
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A view of the cemetery in the (nearly) abandoned Daghestani village of Khyurdabakh.

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