Magus , plural Magi - Ancient Persian Priesthood : Shahr-e-Sokteh , the "burnt city" of Eastern Iran

Folks , the true identity of the Biblical Magi has fascinated & intrigued researchers for hundreds of years...the rare find of the "burnt city" , or Shahr-e-Sokteh , at the Eastern edge of Iran , may hold vital clues to this enduring mystery . This region was an extension of the Vedic civilisation of South Asia and this burnt city had the earliest known artificial eyeball ever found . The 5,000 year old skeleton of a woman 1.82 m tall (!!) , amongst other oversized skeletons , was found with this strange contraption in her eye socket :-


Persian priesthood


The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

Alternative Title: Magi

Magus , plural Magi , member of an ancient Persian clan specializing in cultic activities. The name is the Latinized form of magoi ( e.g., in Herodotus 1:101), the ancient Greek transliteration of the Iranian original. From it the word magic is derived.

It is disputed whether the magi were from the beginning followers of Zoroaster and his first propagandists. They do not appear as such in the trilingual inscription of Bīsitūn, in which Darius the Great describes his speedy and final triumph over the magi who had revolted against his rule (522 bc). Rather it appears that they constituted a priesthood serving several religions. The magi were a priestly caste during the Seleucid, Parthian, and Sāsānian periods; later parts of the Avesta, such as the ritualistic sections of the Vidēvdāt ( Vendidad ), probably derive from them. From the 1st century ad onward the word in its Syriac form (magusai) was applied to magicians and soothsayers, chiefly from Babylonia, with a reputation for the most varied forms of wisdom. As long as the Persian empire lasted there was always a distinction between the Persian magi, who were credited with profound and extraordinary religious knowledge, and the Babylonian magi, who were often considered to be outright imposters.

Learn More in these related Britannica articles:

Shahr-e Sukhteh

Shahr-e Sukhte (meaning “The Burnt City”), is an archaeological site of a sizable Bronze Age urban settlement, associated with the Jiroft culture.

Shahr-e Sukhteh: Iran Ancient Persia Burnt City

Shahr-e Sukhteh is the remains of an ancient city and archaeological site of a sizable Bronze Age in southwestern Iran.

Ranked among the most ancient countries of the world, Iran is house to numerous old, mysterious and peculiar civilizations. Even until today, so many truths about many archeological sites in Iran, especially those located in the central and southern part of it, are still covered in mystery.

Today, most people consider many facts related to these enigmatic prehistoric inhabitants, fictions filled with myth and imagination.

But the truth is that discoveries demonstrate a great deal of development and advancement of these civilizations which sound really incredible. For instance, it is interesting to know that the world’s first known artificial eyeball, with 2 holes in both sides and a golden thread to hold it in place, has been unearthed from the skeleton of a woman’s body in Shahr-e Sukhteh (Burnt City) in southern region of Iran.

In December 2006, archaeologists discovered the world’s earliest known artificial eyeball. It has a hemispherical form and a diameter of just over 2.5 cm. It consists of very light material, probably bitumen paste. The surface of the artificial eye is covered with a thin layer of gold, engraved with a central circle (representing the iris) and gold lines patterned like sun rays. The female whose remains were found with the artificial eye was 1.82 m tall, much taller than ordinary women of her time. On both sides of the eye are drilled tiny holes, through which a golden thread could hold the eyeball in place. Since microscopic research has shown that the eye socketshowed clear imprints of the golden thread, the eyeball must have been worn during her lifetime. The woman’s skeleton has been dated to between 2900 and 2800 BCE.

Another discovery shows a skull on which some brain surgery practices have been done, which reveals unbelievable progresses made by these ancient people who had inhabited in this region 5000 years ago.

In Kerman and Sistan and Baluchestan Province, where Lut desert is located, geophysical excavations point out over 10 historical and archaeological eras that are the indicators of different generations and civilizations who had resided in this region throughout the history.

It is not surprising then to know that Lut desert (meaning Emptiness Plain) ,which is now only a vast salt land ,along with its surrounding areas are among the richest archeological sites in the Middle-east, considering the amount of artifacts discovered here from around 4th millennium BC.

Shahr-e Sukhteh is one of the UNESCO’s world heritage site

Shahr-e Sukhteh is one of the UNESCO’s world heritage centers in this region which is associated with Jiroft culture, one of the oldest civilizations on earth along with Helmand culture.

As well as the huge number of handiworks discovered in Shahr-e Sukhteh, various artifacts have also been found in Shahdad and Bam district near this archeological site. Therefore, it seems that Hirmand River, just like Nile River, had provided a suitable condition for inhabiting and forming cities in the region before it dried up.

As a result, Shahr-e Sukhteh became an astonishing example of urbanization which in its heyday recreated commercial and cultural exchanges with other ancient civilizations in Central Asia and Indians, as far away as China. Regarding to what has been uncovered in an area more than 151 hectares, Shahr-e Sukhteh was one of the largest cities of the world during the emergence of urban period and experts believe that it can be track down up to 11 meters under the ground.


Shahr-e Sukhteh remained under a 20-centimeter thick layer of ash and dust for around 4000 years before being discovered. The dry desert climate of the region also helped to preserve the remaining of this civilization.

During the excavation, archeologists collected more than 2 million pieces from the mazelike sequences of rooms in the houses which had been remained intact under the salt.

Therefore, a great opportunity for investigating an ancient civilization founded around 3200 BC has been created. The city is considered to be located at the intersection of ‘Bronze Age’ trade routes crossing the Iranian plateau, during which organized city states emerged and writing was invented in the Near East.

In fact, archeologists claim that the most ancient script found so far belongs to this region (Jiroft, Kerman Province) and yet, no linguistic has been able to interpret it.

The city was comprised of various parts: a section was dedicated to the monuments and other quarters were used for housing, cemeteries and manufacture, which demonstrate the emergence of a highly advanced civilization and a complex society in the 3rd millennium BC.

The burnt city is built in a completely non-earthquake zone (just like the Sumerian, Egyptian, and Sindh civilizations) and during the history, it was completely burnt 2 times but rebuilt again. However, in 2100 BC, the city was suddenly evacuated without any signs.


Investigations show that similar to what happened in Shahdad, the Helmand River changed its course and the inhabitants of this area inevitably abandoned their homes.

The animals and birds also left this area so that it eventually was hidden under a thick cover of soil and dust and just like the advanced civilization of Egypt, it remained unknown for centuries before being discovered.

In addition, around 21000 graves have been discovered in the west and south part of the city and analyzing the remains of the dead bodies has led to very unique and absorbing findings.

For instance, in spite of unearthing more than 40,000 skeletons in burial grounds of Shahr-e Sukhteh, their exact origin is still unknown to historians and archeologists.

Furthermore, the huge size of discovered skeletons reinforces the theory which associates the legendary heroes of Iranian myths (like Rostam in Shahnameh) with this region.

One of the biggest skeletons of the world has been unearthed here with 5 meter and 21 centimeter height which belongs to a 35 to 40-year old man.

What attracts thousands of tourists each year to this city, is not only the antiquity and long history of it, but also the authenticity and the uniqueness of this civilization that leaves the visitors with an overwhelming sense of wonder.

The surrounding desert landscapes of Lut multiple the exceptional beauty of this site. Therefore, Shahr-e Sukhteh should be better included on the must-see list of Iran’s attraction along with Perspolis and other unique,ancient archeological sites of the country.

Video: Shahr-e Sukhteh

Read more:


List members , to those who may wish to explore further about this region on the Eastern fringes of Iran , here is a good article that describes how till today , Iranians call this area "Hind-e-Koochak" , or "Little India" , hence proving it's links to India's Vedic civilisation :-

Jiroft History

University of Jiroft / About Us / Jiroft History

Jiroft is a city in the capital of Jiroft County, the birthplace of the oldest civilization of the Eastern World. It is located in the south of Kerman Province; the sub-province of Jiroft is bound by those of Kerman (north), Bam (east), Anbarabad and Kahnuj (south), and Baft (west). Jiroft has three different climate zones: cold, warm, and moderate. On account of its being very fertile land and its variant climate zones, it produces both warm and cold weather crops and has earned the nickname of “Hend-e-Koochak” (the little India). By passing the time it has kept valuable historical and cultural treasures that declare the historical process and socio-economic life of the country.

Historical Attraction

Old City of Jiroft

The history of settlement in the city dates back to 5,000 years ago when a Bronze Age civilization, which has come to be known as the Jiroft Civilization, inhabited the area. Traces of this civilization have been found at the Twin Konar Sandal Mounds where archeologists uncovered clay tablets with geometric shapes that they believe is the origin of the Elamite writing system as well as a Ziggurat-like temple. Archeologists say further studies of Konar Sandal artifacts will reveal Jiroft and not Mesopotamia as the birthplace of the oldest civilization of the Eastern World.

The Old City of Jiroft is located on the western banks of Halil Rud and dates back to the Seljuq (1038-1118) era. Currently known as the Ancient city of Daqyanous, old Jiroft was one of the largest Islamic cities of Iran and was a center of trade in Seljuq times. Venetian merchant traveler, Marco Polo (1254-1324), in his travels, passed through this city, describing it as a glorious place. The remains of a 1,200-year-old mosque and a bath have been discovered in excavations of the area. The ceramic artifacts and potshards found at this site portray the evolution of pottery during the Islamic era.

Twin Konar Sandal Mounds

The twin mounds of Konar Sandal are where a 5,000-year-old Bronze Age civilization, which has come to be known as the Jiroft Civilization, once, lived. This civilization had a writing system, was the innovator of stone and adobe arts and created one of the first urban settlements. Clay tablets found at Konar Sandal have inscriptions in the form of geometric shapes that bear no resemblance to Mesopotamian and Egyptian script and have yet to be deciphered. It is believed that the Elamite written language originated from this writing system. Artifacts found in Konar Sandal include vessels, stone tablets with delicate eagle, scorpion and leopard designs that are unmatched to any artifacts uncovered at various archeological sites. One of the Konar Sandal mounds has yielded the remains of a city resembling the Burnt city of Sistan with a fortress at its center, a ziggurat-like temple and a two-meter statue of the ruler of this fortress. Many archeologists believe the Jiroft Civilization is actually the lost Aratt civilization

mentioned in Sumerian mythology. They believe that further studies of Konar Sandal artifacts will reveal Jiroft and not Mesopotamia as the oldest

Jiroft Archaeology Museum

The Archaeology Museum of Jiroft houses over 500 artifacts dating back to the third millennia BC. Most of these artifacts belong to the Jiroft Civilization and have been uncovered at the Konar Sandal archeological site. The museum also houses a limited number of Islamic artifacts. The majority of the museum’s treasures are made of bronze but there are also some marble and ceramic vessels bearing animal and human motifs or a combination of the two. One of the most noted items housed in this museum is a scorpion man statue which has a human head and a scorpion tail.

Natural Attraction

Dareb-e Behesht

Darb-e Behesht is a mountain town which is located in the southeastern part of the country, 80 kilometers from the city of Jiroft. There are many mountains, valleys and water sources in the region around the Darb-e Behesht. Animal Husbandry and farming are the main occupation in this town. The rainiest month is February, with an average of 63 mm of precipitation , and the driest is June, with 3 mm of rainfall. In summer because of its amazing nature and favorable climate many visitors come to this town.

Dalfard Village

northwest of Jiroft, the village is famous for growing both warm and cold climate trees such as citrus trees and date palms with walnut, cherry and apricot trees. It has a 10-meter waterfall located 40 kilometers northwest of Jiroft

Halil Rud

Halil Rud or Halil River is a 390-kilometer permanent river which flows 100 kilometers from Jiroft and the Jiroft Dam has been built over this river. The overflowing of Halil Rud destroyed the city of Jiroft 1,000 years ago. The River also flooded Jiroft in 1993.

Jiroft Dam Lake

Jiroft Dam as the fifth concrete dam built in the country is located 35 kilometers northwest of Jiroft. It is a hydroelectric dam in Iran with an installed electricity generating capability of 85 MWh. This lake is considered one of the largest lakes in Kerman Province, and made up of rivers that flow into Hamoon Jazmoorian including Halil Rood River, Baft River, Rabar River, Teel River, and Esfandaqeh River.