Shahre-e-Sookhte: a city full of mysteries

In the southeastern part of Iran, there is an ancient city, called Shahr-e-Sookhte. 
Shahr-e-Sookhte (meaning the burnt city) is a Bronze Age archaeological treasure trove. This city belongs to 5000 years earlier. After being burnt down for 3 times, finally, it was abandoned in 1800 BC. Shahr-e Sookhteh is one of the UNESCO’s world heritage centres in this region which is associated with Jiroft culture, one of the oldest civilizations on earth along with Helmand culture.
Shahr-e-sookhte was once one of the largest communities in Iran and it experienced four stages of civilization.

Where is Shahre-e-Sookhte?

“The burnt city” sits on the banks of HELMAND river. Along the ZAHEDAN-ZABOL road in the SISTAN & BALOCHISTAN province. Covering an area of 280 hectares the burnt city was one the largest and one of the most advanced ancient cities. Research shows that Shahr-e-Sookhte contains  5 main parts:  residential section located northeast, central parts, industrial zone, monuments; and cemetery. The ancient site of the burned city is about 18 meters higher than the land surrounding it. The site was discovered in 1967 and has been continually excavated since the 1970s by Iranian and Italian archaeological teams

Studies have shown that the area, unlike now, wasn't a desert 5000 years ago. actually, this area used to have a lot of trees such as willow and maple and the lake HAMUN had been a large lake feeding several permanent rivers such as HIRMAND.

Despite what others say, the burnt city wasn't actually burnt down and most importantly, no evidence of weapons was found in the burned city. The burnt city has been an industry - dependent civilization, therefore the ash which was found there can be due to the activity of industrial furnaces around the city. And that's why the city is called "the burnt city".

The Necropolis

Archaeologists found 310 graves in the burnt city's necropolis. The diggings show that the dead people of the burnt city were buried with their clothes.

The wonders of Shahr-e-Sookhte

The world's earliest artificial eyeball

In December 2006, archaeologists discovered the world's earliest artificial eyeball in the city's necropolis. This artificial eyeball was worn by a female resident who was 1.82 m tall, much taller than ordinary women of her time and was between 25-30 years old. The woman had dark, exotic skin. Her Africanoid cranial structure suggests her origins were the Arabian Peninsula.

This eyeball is made of a very light material which is still not fully defined but it appears to be natural tar mixed with a kind of animal fat. The surface is covered by a very thin layer of gold. And the tiniest capillaries in the eye were designed by gold wires less than a half mm. The eyeball's pupil is designed in the centre and a number of parallel lines that form almost a diamond are visible around the pupil.

Experts say that the skeleton dates to between 2900 and 2800 BC when the Burnt City was a bustling, wealthy city.

Brain surgery in Shahr-e-Sookhte

One of the most amazing discoveries is finding the signs of the oldest brain surgery. The skull of a 12-13 years old girl which 4800 years earlier had brain surgery was found. A part of her skull was taken to cure her disease.  This girl lived actually quite a long life after the surgery.

burn city

The oldest backgammon game in the burnt city

The oldest known backgammon, dice and game seeds, were found by the archaeologists. The backgammon board has the picture of a snake on it. The snake has been curled up twenty times around its neck and has its tail in its mouth. The backgammon board has 60 game seeds.

burnt city

The world's first animation

During the discovery of the burned city, archaeologists found an earthen goblet in a 5000 years old grave which had a painting of a goat and a tree on it. After examining the goblet, they found out that the pattern on it, unlike other works obtained from the historical sites of the burned city, has a targeted repetition. it actually shows the goat's movement towards the tree. The artist who has painted this goblet has been able to design a goat eating the tree's leaves in five motions.

burnt city gablet


Iran tours, sightseeing tours, activities & things to do – Touriar tour packages offer you opportunity to explore one of the world’s oldest civilisations, with rich culture, history and magnificent natural landscapes.