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Burnt City: Great civilization in the Iranian desert

Burnt City in eastern Iran dates back to 5,000 years ago and is spread over 150 hectares. It was unearthed in 1915.
The area, 56 km from the city of Zabol in Sistan-Baluchestan province, is known by local people as “the region of bandits”. However, it is the place that holds the secrets of Iranian history, Cais-Soas reported.
The city, founded in 3200 BCE, was ruined in 2100 BCE. In the course of its 1,100-year life, Burnt City was witness to four civilizational eras.
It was burnt thrice and completely ruined in the third fire. That is the reason for its name.
So far, the real name of the city has not been established authoritatively and only manuscripts unearthed by archeologists can corroborate its real name.

Burnt City Discovery
Burnt City was first discovered by British scholar Orwell Stein.
In the 1960s, a team from the Italian Institute for Middle East and Oriental Studies launched archeological excavations in cooperation with the Archeology General Department during 1967-78.
With the discovery of 250 graves, the team collected valuable information. However, excavations were halted in the ancient area from 1978.
In 1997, Iranian cultural heritage experts resumed excavations at the ancient site after an 18-year hiatus. The Iranian team initially focused on the burial sites and in 1999 extended their excavations to the residential areas.

Center of Civilization
Since no defensive fortress or wall has been discovered in Burnt City, archeologists believe the inhabitants were all peace-loving people who lived without any fortified boundaries.
Studies show that in the early stage of their settlement in the region (3200 to 2800 BCE), the people of Burnt City had entered into transactions with people in the eastern and northeastern parts of Greater Iran, Central Asia and Quetta (in what is today known as Pakistan’s Baluchistan).
Sajjadi, an archeologist, says that in the second phase of their settlement (2800 to 2500 BCE) the people cut ties with Khuzestan but preserved their links with Central Asia.
Seals discovered in Burnt City, Mishmahig (Bahrain), Grane (Kuwait) and Khvavaran (Iraq) lend further proof to such a theory.
In the third phase (2500 to 2300 BCE) and even in the fourth phase (2300 to 2100 BCE), the inhabitants of Burnt City had contacts with northern and eastern areas but gradually curtailed their ties.
Dr. Sajjadi notes that Burnt City was the center of a civilization known as “Civilization of Hirmand River Delta” that served as the capital of civilizations about 5,000 years ago.
However, due to the displacement and drying up of the Hirmand River Delta, living in the region lost its charm.
Burnt City had about 70 villages highly active in agriculture and production of clay works.

During the 2001 archeological excavations, over one ton of clay objects were unearthed from the graves and its architectural environments.
Findings show that the oldest surgery on a human skull was carried out on a 13-year-old girl suffering from hydrocephalus. The skull will be displayed in the first medical history museum of Iran.
Apparently, a major part of the information has been obtained from graves unearthed in Burnt City.
Studies show that due to the hard labor, men and women who lived in Burnt City had a short lifespan such that men died at the age of 26 to 53 and women at 26 to 46 years.
Archeologists consider these graves as databanks of the lifestyles, beliefs and professions of their ancestors.
Findings obtained in the course of four archeological phases in Burnt City indicate that the people of Burnt City had jewelers, painters, shepherds, farmers, weavers and craftsmen among them.
Sajjadi noted that by using modern technology, it takes 150 years to scientifically excavate an area.
“We were curious to find out what happened to the people in the last fire of the city and in the aftermath of the drying up of the Hirmand River Delta where we could find their traces following their migration from Burnt City,” he said.
According to the archeologist, after migrating from Burnt City, the people had apparently settled on the other side of the borders.
Sajjadi says that there is no trace of them after 2100 to 2000 BCE because no scientific research has been conducted in this regard.
“The more we gathered information about Burnt City and its people, the heavier became our grief,” he said.

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