Everlasting Awe and Amazement in Burnt City

Everlasting Awe and Amazement in Burnt CityEverlasting Awe and Amazement in Burnt City

A textile warehouse and an altar for sacrificial offerings were discovered in the Burnt City (Persian: Shahr-Sukhte), the Bronze Age urban settlement in Sistan-Baluchestan Province, CHN quoted Seyed Mansur Sajjadi, head of the archaeology team exploring the site, as saying.

In the 14th excavation season of the Burnt City, residential and industrial areas, as well as burial places were explored, resulting in the discoveries revealing some cultural aspects of the site.


The residential area of the site is located north of the site’s main wall; 2 areas were explored and a number of pieces of cloth were found. The largest piece measured 60 by 40 cm, and was colored in 3 shades of brown.

Weaving skills of the residents of the Burnt City acquired global fame when in 2005 the Italian archaeobotanist Prof. Lorenzo Costantini studied and explored the site with 3 archaeology teams.

Burnt City is the only archaeological site where a large diverse collection of cloth with different textures, forms, and designs were unearthed.

Archaeologists now know that the residents of Burnt City had great skills in weaving tissues, creating fine arts such as decorative objects, stone carving, and painting their pottery. They also enjoyed a rich diverse variety of food.

One of the dishes was a combination of lentils, fish, and coriander. Costantini found out that the residents used no oil to cook the food, or at least, they did not find any oily content in the food remains.

 Sacrificial Altar

A number of rooms were also found near the 2 parallel walls discovered last month. The rooms date back to the late Bronze Age, coinciding with the 4th settlement in the site. It is not yet known what purpose the rooms served. But in one of the rooms to the west of the walls, the one located near the entrance of the building, the skeletal remains of a bull was found near a tiny trench, which could possibly be a passageway for the sacrificial blood to flow.

According to Sajjadi, the rooms are located west of the residential area. It is where the sacrificial altar and the various textiles were discovered. As for other rooms, which are relatively small, it is not decided yet what purpose they could have served. They seem like a series of store rooms for now.

The sacrificial ritual clearly belongs to a tradition long before the advent of Zoroastrianism. The culture may be of the people who lived there before the Iranian settlement.

  Ocher adobes

By following a number of ocher adobes, archaeologists reached an architectural space which was the entrance of a large central building, including a guard’s room.

The large parallel walls and the surrounding architectural spaces seem to have encompassed a very large building whose function is not yet clear; but “if the current major theory is right, the building was a palace or a significant center belonging to the 4th settlement in the site,” Sajjadi said, and pointed out the importance of the approximate date of its construction.


There were 4 settlements or civilizations in the Burnt City. Three times the city was burned down, and no reconstruction followed the last fire. The 4th settlement in the Burnt City coincides with the late Bronze Age, a period in which the discovered artifacts were too scarce in number to let the archaeologists piece together a coherent picture.

Despite the vast studies conducted on the site, the reason for the rise and fall of the Burnt City is still a mystery. Further explorations will yield more results. In case the current theory is proved right, many previous statements on the 4th settlement of the Burnt City must be re-examined and corrected, Sajjadi said.

  Significant Discoveries

The Burnt City has never stopped amazing archaeologists. Artifacts like an artificial eyeball and the first discovered animation on a cup show how much the ancient people were inspired by the higher intellectual needs. When other people still had hunting and gathering culture, they spiced their food with caraway.


Circular graves with weird burials are baffling mysteries: dog skulls were placed above the head of a man, while 12 human skulls were farther north. Corn, wheat, and grapes were found within the potteries buried in the tombs. Like nowhere else, bread was among the food buried with the dead.

The foods shared among all the tombs were a handful of wheat, some millet or brook, a bunch of grapes, and a piece of bread. The dishes prepared for the dead were not full to the brim; this was probably a symbolic gesture.

In more than 300,000 hectares, the civilization had extensive commercial, political, and social interactions with cities to the northeast and west. Located near Zabol city, Shahr-Sukhte is one the largest and richest Bronze Age sites in the Middle East. The ancient city is believed to have been the capital of an ancient civilization on the banks of Helmand in 3 millennium BC, when there was no dam obstructing the waters of the river.