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Last Updated: Friday, 22 April, 2005, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
In pictures: Iran's ancient stone city
Sign carved from stone signalling entrance to village of Maymand in Iran
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The ancient village of Maymand lies in Iran's south-eastern Kerman province. BBCPersian.com reader Mehdi Mortazavi Tabrizi sent pictures of his visit to this historic area.
Houses carved into the rock in Maymand, Iran
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There are around 350 homes carved into the rock in this 4,000-year-old village.
Ancient
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Around the village is a precipice or "taaq", which acts as a natural fort protecting the inhabitants. Hundreds of years ago archers guarding the village would be posted around its edges.
Door leading to home
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The homes provide valuable shelter to the region's nomads during the bitterly cold winters.
Holes in ground where water is piped through
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The village's precious water supply comes from small springs and underground canals using pipes.
Woman works to shore up wall near her home in Maymand
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Such distinctive water systems have led to the village being registered by Iran's Heritage Organisation.
Inside of home in Maymand
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Inside the homes a thick layer of soot can be seen on all ceilings and walls from the cooking fires lit by residents. The soot collects and stabilises the ceilings and also prevents damp and repels insects.
Implements used to stoke fires and furnaces in Maymand
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However, some experts studying the village also argue that the presence of such fireplaces suggests the inhabitants may be descendents of Zoroastrians - an ancient pre-Islamic sect which considered fire to be divine.
Local man
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Several decades ago around 4,000 people lived in the village, now this number has dwindled to about 50 families.
Woman offers corn to locals in village
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But despite this, those who remain are still courteous to curious visitors, here a local woman is offering nuts to her guests.



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