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PHOTOS: A Mysterious Lost Race Of Little People In Iran.

Out in the desert wastelands of the the Lut Desert, in the Shahdad region of South Khorasan Province, Iran, is a tiny village known as Makhunik. In the present day it looks very much like any other village in the sparsely inhabited region, and on the surface there might not seem anything strange or remarkable about this place at all, yet looking around you will find elements of Neolithic architecture and tunnels hinting at the area’s ancient past, and indeed lying under this modern village lies something far more ancient and mysterious.

More intriguing still is the fact that the ancient structures here, which are still used, all seem to have been built for residents much smaller than modern human beings, possibly constructed by a long lost race of little people and earning this mysterious place the nickname Shahr-e Kotouleha, or the “City of Dwarves.”

The ancient city itself had long remained buried and forgotten in the desert for millennia before being unearthed in the 1940s by baffled archeologists who had until then not thought that any civilization had ever called this bleak, forbidding landscape home. The site, believed to date to at least the 4th millennium BC, generated a lot of attention at the time and was considered a major archeological discovery, and when the it was more thoroughly examined beginning from 1948 it was found to be even stranger still. Many of the artifacts, tools, and furnaces here, as well as the height of doorways or ceilings and the width of tunnels, and the numerous stone and clay houses were all found to have been made specifically for inhabitants estimated to have averaged only around 3 to 4 feet in height, a veritable real life race of dwarves, although no one knows who they were or why they should have been of such diminutive stature.

Adding to this mystery even further was that this ancient civilization was found to have suddenly and inexplicably abandoned the city sometime in the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC, for reasons that are still unclear. The only thing that can be said about this mass exodus is that it was very sudden, with belongings abandoned and left behind, and with some of the doorways oddly intentionally sealed and covered with mud. Although it is speculated that these ancient people left due to severe drought, and that had planned to return, it is still largely unclear as to why they fled in such large numbers. The Iran Daily has said of the odd city:

A significant aspect about Shahdad is the strange architecture of the houses, alleys and equipment discovered. The walls, ceiling, furnaces, shelves and all the equipment could only be used by dwarfs. After a lapse of 5,000 years since the departure of dwarfs from the city, a large swathe of this prehistoric region lies buried in soil and the migration of Shahdad’s dwarfs remains clouded in mystery.