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Ahvaz Metro Construction Near Ancient City of Hormoz Ardeshir Halted


24 April 2007




LONDON, (CAIS) -- Association of Cultural Heritage Fans in Khuzestan province has called for archaeological studies in Chahar-Shir region of Ahvaz to find out more about the ancient Sasanian city of Hormoz Ardeshir.

Experts believe that if the Ahvaz underground urban railway line passes through the already specified route, the historical city will be destroyed, according to a news by Persian service of CHN.

The protest by the Association of Cultural Heritage Fans has resulted in bringing the construction operations of metro to a halt until further archaeological studies are conducted in the region.

Head of the Research Centre of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) has called on Khuzestan Cultural Heritage Department to explain the reason for permitting the construction of metro without conducting archaeological studies first.

According to ICHHTO rules and regulations, any development project should be conducted only after receiving permission from the organization.

A cultural heritage activist, Mojtaba Gahsotouni, said that the Association of Cultural Heritage Fans supports the decision for preventing the destruction of Chahar-Shir Square which was earlier registered on the list of national heritage sites.



Historical background:

According to some Western historian, the name Ahvaz (also Ahwaz) apparently goes back to the Khuzi, the original habitant of the province who gave their name to the province (Khuzestan) before the rise of Persian Achaemenid Empire to power in 6th century BCE, and whose distinctive language, according to Kharazmi, 8th century Persian polymath, it was survived until 3rd century. However, Abu Mansur Javaliqi, in the 12th century Persian historian reports that "Ahvaz is the name of an Persian city -- and its Persian name has been Arabised and the Arabs, which have accepted the Persian dictation of the word." 


Thy city of Hormoz Ardeshir, also known as Hormuz Ardashir, Hormezdshir, Hormizshahr, Humshir as well as Daravashir (Dārāvašīr) was built by king Ardeshir-e Babakan (ardashīr-i pāpagān - r. 224-241 CE), the founder of Sasanian Dynasty (224-651 CE). Tabari, 9th century Persian historian reports that Ardeshir rebuilt the old city and named it after himself - possibly the Achaemenid Tareiana, where the "royal road" from Susa to Persepolis and the heartland of Fars crossed the river on a bridge of boats.


According to Modaddasi (Maqdasi) it was that King’s son, Shapur who built the town on the two sides of the ancient city, combining God and the king’s names consist of two sections. In the first section was the administrative, which the nobles lived; and the other one, was the commercial section, which was inhibited mainly by merchants. However, during the Arab conquest of Khuzestan in 630, the administrative section of the city was totally destroyed and its habitants were slaughtered; but the commercial one remained intact, and became to known to Arab settlers as Suq-ul-Ahvaz.


The existence of scientific and cultural centres, such as Gondi-Shapur University" which attracted renowned medical scientists from all around the civilised world, including Egypt, Greece, India and Rome, treating the patients and teaching the medical students, demonstrates that the importance and prosperity of this region during the Sasanian dynasty. Gondi-Shapur medical school was founded by the order of Shapur I (r. 241-272 CE). It was restored by Shapur II (r. 309-379 CE) and was completed and expanded during the reign of the reign of Khosrow I, Anushak Ruwan (r. 531-579 CE).


Hormoz Ardeshir which is presently within the boundaries of Ahvaz was registered on the national heritage list in 1931.

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