Mysterious Figurines Discovered in Iran’s ‘Burnt City’

The Iranian archaeological site known as the Burnt City, abandoned for unknown reasons in 2350 B.C.E., has long been a treasure trove of unique archaeological finds. The Tehran Times reported this week that a team of Iranian, Serbian, and Italian archaeologists discovered rare figurines of people and animals.

“The figurines include various animal designs, especially cows, as well as human statues, which are in the form of sitting women and standing men,” Iranian archaeologist Hossein Moradi told the Iranian Labour News Agency last week. Also found during the dig was a kiln.

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Archaeologists aren’t sure what these figurines may have signified—research into them turned up nothing conclusive. And although archaeologists are working to learn as much as they can, there’s still a lot they don’t know. Only 4 percent of the Burnt City has been excavated, even after years of experts working on the project.

One of the world’s largest early cities and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Burnt City is known to have been home to people who traded with others in Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, in particular ones residing in another city that remains unknown to researchers. For archaeologists, because of its scale and interconnectedness, the Burnt City has led to a number interesting finds. Among them is a pot painted with various images of an ibex; taken together, those pictures have been considered the first-ever animation by some. The oldest known backgammon set and dice were also found there. Found on the body of an unusually tall woman was evidence of the first artificial eye, made with bitumen and covered in gold paint and a sunburst pattern in black.


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