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Shahr-e Sokhta

Shahr-e Sokhta, meaning ‘Burnt City’, is located at the junction of Bronze Age trade routes crossing the Iranian plateau. The remains of the mudbrick city represent the emergence of the first complex societies in eastern Iran. Founded around 3200 BC, it was populated during four main periods up to 1800 BC, during which time there developed several distinct areas within the city: those where monuments were built, and separate quarters for housing, burial and manufacture. Diversions in water courses and climate change led to the eventual abandonment of the city in the early second millennium. The structures, burial grounds and large number of significant artefacts unearthed there, and their well-preserved state due to the dry desert climate, make this site a rich source of information regarding the emergence of complex societies and contacts between them in the third millennium BC.

Brief Synthesis

Located at the junction of Bronze Age trade routes crossing the Iranian plateau, the remains of the mud brick city of Shahr-e Sokhta bear witness to the emergence of the first complex societies in eastern Iran. Founded around 3200 BCE, the city was populated during four main periods up to 1800 BCE, during which time there developed several distinct areas within the city. These include a monumental area, residential areas, industrial zones and a graveyard.

Changes in water courses and climate change led to the eventual abandonment of the city in the early second millennium. The structures, burial grounds and large number of significant artefacts unearthed there and their well-preserved state due to the dry desert climate make this site a rich source of information regarding the emergence of complex societies and contacts between them in the third millennium BCE.

Criterion (ii): Shahr-e Sokhta exhibits a transition from village habitation to an urbanized community with significant cultural, social and economic achievements and developments from the late Calcolithic to the early Bronze Age. The site is a rich source of information regarding the emergence of complex societies and some contact between them in the third millennium BCE.

Criterion (iii): Shahr-e Sokhta bears exceptional testimony to a peculiar civilization and cultural tradition that entertained trade and cultural relations with ancient sites and cultures on the Indus Plain, southern shores of the Persian Gulf, the Oman Sea and South-west Iran, and Central Asia. Archaeological remains and finds indicate the key role of the city on a very large scale in terms of working with metals, stone vessels, gems and pottery.

Criterion (iv): The ancient site of Shahr-e Sokhta is an outstanding example of early urban planning: excavations have brought to light well-preserved evidence in the form of its mud-brick structures, burial grounds, workshops and artefacts that testify to its size, organisation, the source of its wealth and its trade and social structures. The city was separated into various parts according to different functions – residential, industrial and burial; it therefore represents an important stage in urban planning in the region.

Ministry of foreign affairs,
Islamic Republic of IRAN,
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