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Sasanian City of Gundishapur still under Farmers Ploughs


18 July 2007



LONDON, (CAIS) -- Farmers are still working on the land under which the Sasanian city of Jondishapur is buried. Jondishapur (Gundishapur), was one of the oldest academic establishment in the world located near modern city of Dezful, Khuzestan Province in southwestern Iran. 


From 30 archaeological mounds in 1980 only 14 of them are now standing - the other mounds have been flattened by farmers during agricultural activities. Experts believe that 90 percent of the ruins of the 300-hectare town have been destroyed by farming, the Persian service of CHN reported on Tuesday.


Ten years ago, a contract was signed between the farmers and the Islamic Agricultural Jihad Ministry (AJM), was purposely permitting the farmers to work on the fields for a decade until April 2007. The Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) had asked the AJM to put a stop to the agricultural operations, and allocate alternative agricultural land to the farmers.


“However, neither the ICHTHO  has allocated the land nor has the AJM signed a new contract with the farmers,” 


Dezful Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Office director Mehdi Mohammadizadeh said: "the office has already suggested that the land located in the third grade area of the site be transferred to the farmers after a series of comprehensive salvage excavations have been carried out. A team of archaeologists has completed demarcation of the area but as yet no official statement has been announced".


Jondishapur is also being threatened by smugglers who are plundering the site for artifacts. As far back as October 2005, the Khuzestan CHTHO and the Abadan Society of Cultural Heritage asked Mahmud Ahmadinejad, the Islamic Republic's president to take measures to save Jondishapur from total destruction, which was at that time facing the rise in illegal excavations - the plea was ignored.


Jondishapur, (Middle-Persian) Gundīšāpūr it is commonly believed was founded by the Sasanian Emperor Shapur I (r. 241-272 CE), but it has been argued that Jondishapur might have had an Arsacid dynastic (248BCE-224CE) antecedent, and was rebuilt by Shapur II (r. 309-379). This argument is based on the mention in two Greek inscriptions from Susa of the term Gondeisos as the name of a waterway. The name would seems to represent an Iranian gund-dêz "military fortress," which led to pose the hypothesis that Gond-dez was the original Iranian name of the place; later gund-dêz-ī Šāpūr, hence the military fortress of Shapur.


Jondishapur became the capital city of  Shāpur II, and it gained its claim to fame during the rule of Khosrow I Anushirvan (Anūšakrūwān - the immortal soul). It is written that the King of Kings had a keen interest in the sciences and thus gathered a large group of scholars in his city. It was by his decree that the famous Persian physician Borzuyeh was sent to East to invite Indian and Chinese scholars to the academic city.


Borzuyeh is famous for having translated the ancient text “Panchatantr” from Sanskrit into Persian, naming it “Kalilah and Dimnah”. Thus, Jondishapur University became an important centre of science, philosophy, and medicine in the ancient world.


The city was captured and plundered by Muslims, and its library either burnt down or dumped in the rivers. Despite that, the city's academy was survived and persisted for several centuries as a Muslim institute of higher learning. The most prominent feature of Jondishapur from the 9th century onwards was the tomb of the founder of Saffarid dynasty, Ya'qub b. Layth. A little shrine located on the outskirts of the Shahabad village has long been the focus of attention. Today, the identification of this shrine as the tomb of Ya'qub is so widely believed that some refer to it as "Emamzada Ya'qub b. Layth".




Extracted From/Source*: Mehr News


*Please note the above-news is NOT a "copy & paste" version from the mentioned-source. The news/article above has been modified with the following interventions by CAIS: Spelling corrections; -Rectification and correction of the historical facts and data; - Providing additional historical information within the text; -Removing any unnecessary, irrelevant & repetitive information.


All these measures have been taken in order to ensure that the published news provided by CAIS is coherent, transparent, accurate and suitable for academics and cultural enthusiasts who visit the CAIS website.


Keywords: Gondi Shapour, Gondi Shapur, Jondi Shapour, Jondishapur, Gondishapur, Gundeshapur, Khuzestan

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