Shahr-e Sukhteh

Set on the banks of the Helmand River along the Zahedan-Zabol road in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan, Iran, Shahr-e Sukhteh (meaning “The Burnt City”) is a unique archaeological site of the Bronze Age urban settlement around 5000 years ago and belongs to a developed civilization living at the time when cities of the world were just beginning to form.

Registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, this ancient city was established by an Aryan tribe in multiple residential, industrial, and memorial sections in the form of consecutive hills surrounded by trees and it was once one of the world's largest communities and a significant center of civilization, trade, industry, and art.

As one of the most important historic sites of the country, the city was burnt down three times and never rebuilt after the last fire, making it to be named the Burnt City, since there is no particular inscription talking about the city’s name.

Discovered in 1967, the site has been continually excavated by Iranian and Italian archaeological teams, resulting in finding various artifacts such as the oldest backgammon, dice and numerous metallurgical things, mat, quality fabrics in different colors, pottery, stone plates, and jewelries indicating the fact that the city was the center of numerous activities.

Of all the amazing excavations in the city, the followings are of paramount significance: a human skull with signs of brain surgery, a woman’s skeleton with an artificial eyeball, a wooden ruler, and the first animation of the world on a pottery vessel, portraying a goat that jumps toward a tree and eats its leaves, showing the medical, mathematical, and artistic progress of that time.

Due to having found a variety of burial methods and no kind of weaponry at the site, scientists believe that different cultures have coexisted peacefully within one society, indicating the high level of civilization attained by the residents of the Burnt City when it was a bustling, wealthy city and a trading post at the crossroads of the East and the West.

Representing the first complex societies in eastern Iran, the mudbrick city provides valuable information on the emergence of complex societies and contacts between them in the third millennium BC.

All in all, the site manifests a memorable part on the itinerary of foreign tourists visiting Iran, those who value art and history and seek a historical adventure through a glimpse at the remains of the earliest civilization.

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