Academy of Gundishapur

From Academic Kids

The Academy of Gundishapur (also Jondishapoor, Jondishapur, and Jondishapour, Gondeshapur etc.) founded in 271 AD by the Sassanid dynasty, is the oldest known teaching hospital. It was an institution for philosophical and medical studies of the ancient world. It is located in the present-day province of Khuzestan, southwest of Iran, not far from the Karun river. Prophet Mani's imprisonment and death is known to have taken place in Gundishapur.


The rise of Jundishapour

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Head of king Shapur II (Sasanian dynasty A.D. 4th century) who made Jundishapur capital of his empire. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art permanent collection.
Gondishapur was one of seven major cities in Khuzestan province of the Persian empire. The name Gondishapur comes from the Persian language word Gund-dez-i Shapur (the Military fortress of Shapur). It has been argued that Gondishapur might have had a Parthian antecedent. But many scholars believe Shapur I son of King Ardeshir (Artaxexes) to have founded the city after defeating The Roman army led by Valerian. Shapur II made Gundishapur his capital.

It was under the rule of Khosrow Anushiravan that Gundishapur rose to its fame. It is written that the King had a keen interest in the sciences and thus gathered a large group of scholars to his city. It was by his decree that the famous physician Borzouyeh was sent off to India to gather the best minds and sources of knowledge of the day. Borzouyeh is famous for having translated the ancient text of Panchatantra from Sanskrit into Persian, naming it "Kelileh and Demneh". Thus the Gundishapur University became an important center of science, philosophy, and medicine of the ancient world.

Some sources even write of special exams performed to permit newly graduated doctors to practice. In specific, the book "Tarikh al-hikama" gives a description of such an event; perhaps the first event of its kind in its day. It was here that every known book on medicine was gathered, translated, and compiled, making Gundishapur a key center of transmission of ancient medical knowledge to the new world. (source: "Crest of the Peacock" by George Ghevarghese Joseph. Princeton U Press)

Gundishapur and its predecessor, the Academy of Vansibin (established also in Khuzestan), are particularly thought to have had a significant role in establishing the institution of the teaching hospital (bimarestan) for the first time. According to the Christian writer Georgy Zeidan, by the orders of Khosrow Anushiravan an institution was established to methodically care for the sick and ill while simultaneously training the students of medicine of the school by hiring physicians and scholars from Greece and India.

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Jondishapur University of Medical Sciences today.
During the early days of Islam, the medical school and hospital of Gundishapur was a focal point of science, particularly medicine, housing Iranian, Indian, Roman and Greek physicians active in both theoretical and clinical aspects. It is even said that prophet Mohammed's personal physician was a graduate of Gundishapur.

The surrender of the Persian empire to Muslim Arab forces in 638 brought the gradual decline of academic activities there. Yet the famous House of Wisdom under the Caliphate of Harun al-Rashid is also thought to have been the immediate successor of Gundishapur, but in fact modeled on it. The first generation of the Baghdad school were all in fact graduates and scholars of Gundishapur.

Today, in the same vicinity, medical students at The Jondishapour University of Medical Sciences (, strive to carry on the heritage of one of the world's greatest centers of scholarship of antiquity.

Latest excavations

Beginning in early 2006, a project involving experts from the Archaeological Research Center of Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago will aim to excavate the ruins buried under earth and to study the damage to the site by modern farming. [1] (

Some famous physicians from here


See also

External Link


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