& CULTURAL NEWS©
City, Ancient Regional Capital for a Millennium
City located 55 kms to the south of Zabol in Sistan Baluchestan province
was the capital of the region for more than 1000 years (3200-2100 BC).
During the period, the city was known not only for wide trade exchanges
with other lands in the northeast and west of the region, but probably had
established close political and social relations with them.
With its 150-hectare area of land, Burnt City is one of the largest and
richest archaeological sites in eastern Iran.
The 1997-1998 excavation was launched at the necropolis and was
extended to the monumental area in 1999.
Hundreds of objects made from various materials were unearthed during
the survey, which are now being studied by specialists from Iran's
Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO).
Most of the excavated graves dating back to the second and third
periods (ca. 2700-2300 BC) of anthropological research on the human
graveyard show that the oldest individual was a woman who died at the age
Meanwhile, the average age of the male and female was 40.5 and 34.8
respectively. The life expectancy of the male ranged between 26 and 53,
while that of the female ranged between 26 and 46.
The remains of a large building revealing 17 rooms and two staircases
have been discovered in the area.
Hundreds of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic clay figurine seals, seal
impressions, cloth, ropes, wooden and stone objects and pottery vessels
were found inside various rooms of the structure. One of the staircases
comprises eight steps of 320-cm mud bricks.
Although the structure was clearly a public building, its original
function is not clear yet.
The Iranian archaeological expedition intends to continue its
excavations in the necropolis and in the monumental area, begin new
researches on the industrial area, probable towers and defensive wall of
The town of Zabol (Sistan) with a 400,000 population is situated 205
kms to the northeast of the provincial capital of Zahedan.
In ancient time, Sistan, in particular the Burnt City, was considered
as a center of communication among the major civilizations of Transoxiania
(modern-day Uzbekistan), Mesopotamia, India and China, mainly on account
of its special climatic, political and cultural position.
Researches from foreign countries including Italy and Georgia including
zoologists and archaeo-botanists work jointly with Iranian archaeologists.
Head of Zabol Archaeological Expedition, Seyed Mansour Seyed Sajjadi
told IRNA that survey on the residential areas and graveyard of the Burnt
City shows that the city was inhabited during four periods from 1800 to
Concerning the reason for naming the city `the Burnt city' was its
burning in two stages in 2700 and 2400 BC.
Prior to launching survey at the site, researchers and archaeologists
believed that centers of culture and civilization only existed in
Mesopotamia in southwestern Iran.
In recent years, it was revealed that Burnt City was not merely an
ordinary ancient site of the bronze age. It has rather been proved as the
largest social, political and economic hub during the third and second
Turning to the unique classification of the historical city into
residential areas, memorial buildings and industrial workshops, he said
that no ancient city in the world rivals the Burnt City in this respect.
"About 40,000 graves containing four billion artifacts have
already been discovered at the 25-hectare graveyard of the city.
"Meanwhile, after close examination of the unearthed
multi-colored fabric, it has been proved that the Burnt City possessed the
greatest collection of the world's fabric and organic materials,"
He noted that various objects including working tools, foodstuff and
cosmetics found in the graveyards of the city prove that the residents of
the city believed in the postmortem life.
"Cylindrical and flat beads was the sign that the residents of the
city enjoyed a strong economy. However, more than 90 percent of the beads
have been discovered at women's graves, which shows that women handled the
"In ancient time, beads were considered as a tool to control the
economic situation of the communities. The holes of some of the unearthed
beads are so tight that only a string of human hair can pass through
them," added the official.
He noted that no tablet or archive has ever been discovered during the
past eight excavation seasons. "But two samples of scripts have
already been found."
"Caraway seed, coriander, backgammon, the recipes of five dishes
and particularly animation were among the discoveries of the past seasons.
"The discovery of backgammon in the Burnt City proves that science
and industry originated from here and spread to other areas," he
He referred to the ancient residents of the city as a peaceful people,
given that no tools indicating that the residents of the Burnt City were
warmongers have so long been found.