Home Page > Jundi-Shapur Research Institute > About > Gundi-Shapur Ancient City 

 

Gundi-Shapur Ancient City

A brief history of the ancient city of Gundi-Shapur

The ancient city of Gundi-Shapur  was built 1800 years ago during the Sassanid era. The city is located 18 kilometers southeast of Dezful, 50 kilometers northwest of Shooshtar, and 30 kilometers east of Shoosh at the present Shahabad village in Khuzestan. Gundi-Shapur , or Gundisabur, is the Arabized form of Gundishapur (a Persian word apparently derived from Vandio Shapur), one of the ancient cities of Khuzestan. The Sassanian Shapur I employed Iranian engineers and Greek designers as well as a number of Roman legionaries who received wages to found the city based on the design of a city with Greek architecture, especially the Hippodamus style, a special style in the fifth century BC dominantly practiced in Roman and Greek cities. 

After a decade of establishing Gundi-Shapur , the city became a major center for trading. At this point in time, the Roman captives enjoyed complete freedom in the city and played a key role in the trading of the city. Even later, these Romans became rivals to Iranians in economic affairs. Several references have it that the Romans set up workshops in Gundi-Shapur  and sold their artifacts not only to local people and their fellow citizens, but also to the neighboring cities outside Iran.

The fame of Gundi-Shapur 's business boom reached the neighboring cities, and even Mesopotamia, Syria and Greece, as a result of which many workers and employers flocked to Gundi-Shapur . Among them were Syriacs, including a physician. Later on, several Greek, Syriac, and Jewish philosophers gradually moved to the city so that, at the end of Shapur's reign, the first city of Gundi-Shapur  was partly known as a thriving and even scientific city, and it was this reputation that prompted subsequent cultural movements.

The city of Gundi-Shapur  was almost losing its relative prosperity after Shapur I, and later during the reign of Sassanid Bahram I (282 AD), parts of the city were destroyed. It was not until 305 AD that the city gained the grandeur it enjoyed in the past. However, during the reign of Shapur II, the city regained its prosperity and its glory grew even further. Several educational and scientific organizations were set up in the city, which provided the context for the establishment of a large university and a hospital. The city prospered so much that Shapur II designated Gundi-Shapur  as its winter capital.