From an American point of view, where very few settlements have been around for more than a few hundred years, its hard to fathom just how long a village like Maymand in Iran (which is thought to have been established around 12,000 years ago) has been around. But the still inhabited cave dwellings help.
The staggering age of the settlement at Maymand was determined by fragments of stone etchings that established the existence of human settlers. However the defining characteristic of the village, namely its 300+ in-ground cave homes are not nearly so old, only dating back 3-4,000 years. It is thought that the cave dwellings began as religious sites, but slowly evolved into permanent houses as settlers stayed on the spot longer and longer. As the local tell it, their ancestors carved out the simple cave homes using a type of hard, sharpened stone that can be found in the area as opposed to traditional tools. The single rooms dwellings are stacked atop one another four and five tall sometimes, yet each of the barren caves has room for its own stove area.
Miraculously for such an ancient and stark settlement, the array of caves that make up the village are still inhabited today. Some of the homes are thought to have been continually inhabited since their creation thousands of years earlier. The population as of 2006 numbered 673, but tends to fluctuate with the seasons. The caves may have a sort of barren beauty, but they are not exactly luxury accommodations.
Iran is a country rich in history, and the village of Maymand is one of the oldest places there, as well as one of the most beautiful.
Visit Iran withAtlas Obscura Trips
Ancient Persia, Modern Iran: Civilizations Old and New
On the overland route from Tehran to Shiraz, experience some of the oldest sites of civilization, tap into local secrets, and explore the myriad influences that have shaped Iran into one of the most fascinating and friendly nations on the planet.