Shahr-e-Sookhteh (Iran): Archaeologists plan to reconstruct ancient society of Burnt City

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The 'Burnt City\sits on the banks of the Helmand river along t he Zahedan-Zabol road in the southeast province of Sistan [Credit: Iran Review]

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This undated photo shows a skeleton with an artificial eyeball, which was unearthed at the Burnt City in 2006.

An archaeological team, which will be led by Seyyed Mansur Sajjadi, plans to reconstruct the ancient society of the 5200-year-old Burnt City during the new excavation season at the site located in southeastern Iran.

“Following 22 excavation seasons previously conducted at the Burnt City [by by Iranian teams] and nine other excavation seasons that Italian archaeological teams carried out carefully and comprehensively, our team, as the inheritor of all the valuable data from excavations by the Italian teams, must conduct this new season of excavation with great care and precision,” Sajjadi told the Persian service of CHN on Monday 

The anthropological studies in the Burnt City have been highly regarded since 1997, when the first Iranian team began an excavation season at the site, he added.

“In addition, paleopathologic studies (the study of ancient diseases), which had never before been done by any Iranian team, began at the site,” he added.

He said that interdisciplinary teams, including medical experts, will accompany the archaeologists during the excavation, which will begin in October.

Several trenches will be dug in the two areas, which are intended to help the team achieve the main aim of the excavation, Sajjadi stated.

He added that a group of experts from the Tehran University of Medical Sciences will join the team to sample 400 of the 1200 skeletons, which were unearthed at the site during the previous excavation seasons.

According Sajjadi, this part of the study will shed light on the diseases common in the ancient society.  

Located 57 kilometers from the Iranian town of Zabol in Sistan-Baluchestan Province, the Burnt City was excavated for the first time by the Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente (IsIAO) team led by Maurizio Tosi in 1967. The team conducted nine seasons of excavations until 1978.

After a 19-year hiatus, a team led by Sajjadi began studies on the Burnt City and conducted 22 seasons of excavations at the site.

A 10-centimeter ruler with an accuracy of half a millimeter, an artificial eyeball, an earthenware bowl bearing the world’s oldest example of animation and many other artifacts have been discovered among the ruins of the city in the course of the 22 seasons of archaeological excavations conducted by Iranian teams.

In September 2013, Iran submitted documentation on the Burnt City to UNESCO to register the site on its World Heritage List.