57 kilometers from Zabol in Sistan and Baluchistan Province there is an ancient city known as Shahr-e Sukhte (Shahr-e Sukhteh, Shahr-I Sokhta) or Burned City that gave new insight to the life of people in Bronze Age. We are talking about the time that human became civilized enough no to bury dead bodies under the houses. Over 5 thousand years ago, the bank of the vast river of Helmand became the dwelling place of a group of people from Chalcolithic age. Being near a great body of water made the place a very fertile and green land with lush pastures and pleasant whether that was ideal for agriculture and animal husbandry. As the time passed, the small village became a city that in its zenith inhabited 5 to 8 thousand people. The magnitude of the city, its population, and the finds of archeological excavations displays that the life in Bronze Age was far more advanced than what we expected.
For the first time Sir Aurel Stein, the Hungarian-British archeologist known for his excavations in Central Asia, introduced this place as an archeological site, but the real excavation began 40 years later, in 1960, by an Italian Mission that worked on the Burned City. The city is one of the few Iranian historical sites that is presented in the Archeological Societies all around the world since it gives a lot of information about the life, religion, tradition and occupations of people in Bronze Age.
The magnitude of the city, its population, and the finds of archeological excavations displays that the life in Bronze Age was far more advanced than what we expected.
The city is scattered over an area of 150 hectares and is divided to 4 main sections. First, there is the broad central area that is 20 hectares, followed by the residential area with 16 hectares, and then the artisan area of the northeast, and at last the cemetery on the southwest. There is no trace of a building similar to a temple but there is a massive construct that was probably used as a public place and might have had religious use.
The architectural style of the city is best witnessed in the houses that are 90 to 160 m2. The houses have 6 to 10 rooms built around a central yard; the houses lack any food storage that shows that the government did the process of saving crops for the colder months of year. The houses are built with bricks that are 12*20*40 cm and filled with mud, wood and mat.
The excavations on burial grounds of the city led to the finding of 310 graves. What the archeologists got from the grave shocked the world. In one of them the body of a woman with a glass eye was found, the woman is about 25-30 years old and biracial. Although the substance that the eye was made from is unknown, its decoration is magnificent. The capillaries are made from gold and the pupil is drawn in the center surrounded by diamond like shapes. A brainteaser game was derived from another grave that is similar to Backgammon; it consists of a board and about 60 beads. The most prominent of the findings of the city was from the grave of a 13-year-old girl that had the traces of a brain surgery on his skull. The girl suffered from Hydrocephalus and the physician of this ancient city successfully operated on her and save her life, she was alive 6-9 months after the surgery but died due to unknown reasons. Beside the mentioned items, the biggest collection of fabrics of prehistoric time and the oldest inlay work of Iran was retrieved from the graves.
The variety of burial traditions proves that people followed different traditions and the style of the city shows that it was one of the major trading centers of the world.
The variety of burial traditions proves that people followed different traditions and the style of the city shows that it was one of the major trading centers of the world. Numerous workshops were producing products used in barter transactions. The most common of these jobs are masonry, pottery, Mat weaving, Knitting, Sculpturing, Jewelry making, Hunting, Agriculture, and trading. Archeologists believe that one of the main reasons behind the city’s destruction was a fire that burned great parts of it. In UNESCO’s 38th session of committee held on July 22, 2014 The Burned City of Sistan was registered as a World Heritage.