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 World's First Academic City Under Threat



05 October 2005


Following the increase of illegal excavations in the historical site of Jondi Shapur, Cultural Heritage Enthusiasts Association of Abadan city, and the provincial office of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Khuzestan have asked President Ahmadi-Nejad through a letter to help save the historical site.

Jondi Shapur or Gondi Shapur, located in the southern province of Khuzestan, was the very first world major academic city established during the Sasanid dynasty. After the invasion of Iran by Arabs in 7th century, many scholarly texts began to be translated from Pahlavi (middle-Persian) language into Arabic, transferring the Iranian knowledge to the Aran-Islamic world and this city flourished for almost 700 years.

Within the last 3 years, almost 80 percent of the 300-hectare ancient site has been damaged due to farming activities and smuggling, and more neglect of the city will led to the complete destruction of this ancient site.

In a letter to the president, it has been also mentioned that Jondi Shapur is important not only due to archaeological historical aspects, but also due to identity and national issues. “While every four years Greece focuses on the defeat of Iran from Rome in Olympic Marathon, why shouldn’t we save our symbol of victory over Rome; as Jondi Shapur had been built by 70,000 Greek prisoners of war after the defeat of Rome from Persia,” the letter reads.

It is not just the farmers who are threatening the historical site of Jondi Sahpur; experts of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Khuzestan are warning of the illegal excavations in this historical site as well.

Among the 30 hills registered in 1979, just 14 have remained and 16 have been flattened by the farmers for agricultural use.

According to the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Khuzestan province, the illegal diggings in the historical site of Jondi Shapur have increased so much that if the trend continues, nothing will remain of the historical site within a few years.

Furthermore, according to the latest reports, while carrying out new excavations, determining the perimeters of the area, and mapping of the site, experts have sensed the depth of the misery, of which the public is unfortunately still unaware of.

The historical academic city of Jondi Shapur was famous in the ancient time, founded during the Sasanid dynasty as the city of the elite. Medicine science spread from this city to the other places, and there were a lot of scientists in the city carrying out researches and studies. The Jondi Shapur University, now ruined, was considered one of the most famous architectural structures of its time.

A few months ago, a joint project was approved by the Iranian Foreign Ministry for excavations by Iranian experts and archaeologists from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in Jondi Shapur. The program is planned to be launched in January 2006.



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