The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
LONDON, (CAIS) -- The Khuzestan Cultural Heritage Lovers Society (Tariana) has recently sent a letter to the Islamic Republic’s president, Mahmoud Ahamdinejad, asking him to prevent the demolition of the world first academic city, Jondishapur.
The text of the letter was published on CHN’s Persian website on Wednesday.
Farmers are currently working the land under which Jondishapur is buried.
Jondishapur, which was the world’s first academic city, is located near Dezful, Khuzestan Province in southwestern Iran.
In 2000, a contract was signed between the farmers and the Agricultural Jihad Ministry, allowing the farmers to work on the fields for a decade.
Over 50 ancient tappeh (archaeological mounds) were located at the site, but most of them have been flattened by farmers during agricultural operations over the past nine years.
A great number of ancient bricks and shards have been unearthed and scattered by the tractors ploughing the fields.
“No word can describe the catastrophe underway at Jondishapur, the academic pride of ancient Iran,” the letter reads.
According to the letter, heavy vehicle traffic in the region and irrigation have caused irreparable damage, the cost of which cannot be estimated.
“For what crime is Jondishapur being punished? Is this not the city that recalls our victory against the Roman Empire, in which we take pride? Is this not the city that was the greatest scientific centre of the world during ancient times? Is this not the city that played an indisputable role in the development of Islamic civilization?” the letter lamented.
Tariana asked Ahmadinejad to ensure that the Islamic Republic Agricultural Jihad Ministry does not extend the contract with the farmers.
They also asked him to establish a rescue committee for the site.
“Mr. President, hurry, only a few furrows remain before the complete destruction of Jondishapur,” they noted in the letter.
Jondishapur or Gundeshapur was founded by Sasanian emperor Shapur I (r. 241-272 CE) after he defeated the Roman army led by Valerian. Shapur II made Jondishapur his capital.
The name Jondishapur is a derivative of the Middle Persian Gund-dez-i Shapur (the military fortress of Shapur). It has been argued that Jondishapur might have had a Parthian antecedent. But many scholars believe Shapur I, son of King Ardashir I, founded the city after his great victory.
Jondishapur gained its claim to fame during the rule of Khosrow Anushiravan. It is recorded that the king had a keen interest in the sciences and gathered a large group of scholars in his city. It was by his decree that the famous physician Borzuyeh was sent off to India to gather the best minds and sources of knowledge of the day.
Borzuyeh is famous for having translated the ancient text “Panchatantra” 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 by Muslims during the caliphate of Umar, by Abu Musa al-Ashari. At this time it already had a well-established hospital and medical school as well as an institution for philosophical studies, which had been established in ancient times.
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