Helmand culture

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Pottery vessel from Shahr-e Sukhteh

The Helmand culture (also Helmand civilization) is a Bronze Age culture that flourished mainly in the Helmand valley in the eastern Iran (Sistan and Baluchestan Province) and south Afghanistan (Helmand Province), predominantly in the third millennium BC.[1]

The people of the Helmand culture lived partly in cities with temples and palaces, providing evidence for a complex and advanced social structure. The main cities so far known are Shahr-e Sukhteh (in modern Iran) and Mundigak (Afghanistan). Research on the finds from both places showed that these cities shared the same culture.[2] These are the earliest cities in this part of the world. It is possible that the Helmand culture formed once one ancient state.[3]

The pottery of the Helmand civilization is colorfully painted with mainly geometrical patterns, plants and animals are also depicted. Bronze was known. In Shahr-e Sukhteh were found texts in Elamite language providing evidence with connections to the west of the Iran. There are also a few connections with the Indus Valley Civilisation, but it seems that the Helmand civilization was earlier and did not overlap chronological very much with the cities in the Indus valley.[4]


  1. ^ Cameron A. Petrie und Jim G. Schaffer, in: Raymond Allchin, Warwick Ball, Norman Hammond (Hrsg.): The Archaeology of Afghanistan, From earliest Times to the Timurid Period, Edinburgh, University Press, Edinburgh 2019, ISBN 9780748699179, pp. 161–259
  2. ^ Raffaele Biscione: Relative Chronology and pottery connection between Shahr-i Sokhta and Munigak, Eastern Iran, in Memorie dell'Istituto Italiano di Paleontologia Umana II (1974), pp. 131–145
  3. ^ Jane McIntosh: The Ancient Indus Valley: New Perspectives, Santa Barbara, California, ISBN 978-1-57607-908-9, pp. 86–87
  4. ^ Jean-François Jarrige, Aurore Didier, Gonzague Quivron (2011): Shahr-i Sokhta and the chronology of the Indo-Iranian regions, In: Paléorient, 2011, vol. 37, n°2. pp. 7–34.