In eastern Iran near the Afghanistan border there is an ancient city that many believe was home to a an entire population of tiny people that left few answers when drought forced them to pack up and abandon their homes. This City of Dwarves is also known as Makhunik or Iran’s Lilliput, and has been the cause of much curiosity since its discovery in the mid-twentieth century. The ancient residents of the city were believed to be much shorter than average modern heights at an estimated three to four feet tall, based on the size of the dwellings as well as remains and artifacts found during excavations.
Stranger still, these small statured ancient residents appear to have packed up their city and left all at the same time but with every indication they had planned to return. Many of the homes were found sealed with mud and still containing many objects and furnishings, which is something that would be expected from a temporary evacuation of the city rather than an intended permanent departure.
Archaeological evidence indicates this population of Makhunik people migrated away approximately 5,000 years ago before modern repopulation of the area which is still quite minimal. The leading belief as to the cause of their migration is a drought in the area, but there is no evidence of where they intended to go or what happened to this mysteriously disappearing group of ancient people.
Some experts believe the ancient residents were not so dramatically smaller than modern people but rather were made smaller due to a lack of pack animals for construction labor as well as for practical reasons of energy efficiency for heating and cooling. The area was not resource rich so economical use would have been favored to prevent depletion.
These claims of a smaller people are not unique to Iran and proof of a sister species of people ranging in the same size were discovered on the island of Flores, near the islands of Java and Komodo. Officially they are classified as Homo floresiensis, however they are affectionately known as the “hobbit” people in loving tribute to J.R.R. Tolkien.
Interestingly, many of the same cultures that have tales of a race of people much like ourselves only smaller also feature tales of a race of giants. The island of Java has even turned out fossils of Meganthropus which were believed to stand about eight feet tall and be related to Homo erectus.