Iran’s ‘Burnt City’, called Shahr-e-Sookhteh, sits on the banks of the Helmand river along the Zahedan-Zabol road in the southeast province of Sistan va Baluchestan. A Bronze Age archaeological treasure trove, it was one of the world’s largest communities about 4800 years ago, at the dawn of urban settlement. Based on more than 3 decades of excavation and analysis by the Iranian archaeologists, the city was built around 3200 BC, covering an area of 151 hectares, and abandoned over a millennium later in 2100 BC. The city experienced four stages of civilization and was burnt down three times. It took its eventual name because it was never rebuilt after the last fire.
This archaeological find is especially made interesting by the discoveries such as the oldest game of backgammon, metallurgical finds, world’s earliest artificial eyeball, human skulls showing signs of brain surgery, only to name a few. Information about each of these can be found online as well as in documents for those interested. However, the artifact that I found most interesting is an earthen goblet, with a diameter of 8 cm and height of 10 cm, which can be classified as “world’s oldest animation”. The images painted around the outer surface of the goblet, when it is turned around, portray a goat that jumps towards a tree and eats its leaves!!! The archaeologists have managed to make an animated piece on the basis of these images in the form of a 20-second film. This film is available for download. The images show movement in an intricate way that is an unprecedented discovery.