Gundishapur University

The first and largest University of the world

By Prof. Dr. Alireza Ranjbar, Bonn, Germany


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The Preparations and decision for the founding of the Gundishapur University was made by Ardaschir Papakan the founder of the Sassanid Empire.

Many historians report that after Ardashir had finished the business of government, he was occupied with scientific work, translations of books and comparative studies.

He endeavoured to combat the bigotry of belief among the petty bourgeois and to improve and expand the education of the people.

Ardashir became ill and wrote the following lines to his son and successor Shapur: "My son, In the course of time it is quite possible that during you reign you will defeat many countries and become famous, but if you want your name and the name of our dynasty to be perpetuated, then take to heart the idea of ​​founding a university I did the preparations for”.

After a seventeen year endeavor, Shapur established the University of Gundishapur and a lasting cultural heritage.

The Gundishapur University had the following faculties: medicine, pharmacy, mathematics, physics, astrology, astronomy, philosophy, ethics and religion.

All students of the University received a scholarship from the royal treasury, so the students acquire wisdom in peace freed from prison of ignorance. The students and professors were international and multicultural. There were Christian, Jewish, Indian and Greek students and teachers.


  1. Faculty of Medicine of the Gundishapur University

The students of medicine learned that they are obligated to practice medicine in an attempt at giving optimal expert advice and treatment to understand the patient in his suffering, to take time to listen and then apply the knowledge of medical science to the respective individual disease problems and health situation.With their patients they learned to diagnose their diseases and health problems, and to make decisions about successful therapeutic interventions.The world-famous university was also a center for world's disgraced scientists who found their future in Gundishapur University. The philosophers of the Athenian School, who were persecuted in their homeland, found a refuge and gained admittance to Gundishapur University. They were allowed to teach all their Greek philosophy without fear, as visiting professors.

King Shapur himself presented each faculty member the professor coveted certificate, which was regularly one of the highlights of the academic life, celebrated by an ostentatious ceremony. Shapur said in his opening speech: "Our sword is opening up new countries and our knowledge and wisdom conquer the minds and thoughts." The university library was consisted of 259 rooms, whose shelves were filled with books, and also includes works in foreign languages. Edward Brown says: "The world has never seen a university library like the one in Gundishapur University".

International Medical Congress

In the year 261 AD, an international medical congress was held at the Gundishapur University at the head of Dorostpad-Dschebril, health minister of King Shapur who was also Dean of the faculty of medicine of the Gundishapur University.

Besides Iranian doctors there were also numerous congress participants from Greece, Rom, India and Jewish doctors and scientists who discussed for days on diagnosis and treatments of diseases. The discussion contributions were specified in writing, so after the completion of the congress a congress book was published with all contributions.


Unbenanntes Dokument

Unbenanntes Dokument


  • Robert McC. Adams and Donald P. Hansen: Archeological Reconnaissance and Soundings in Jundi Shahpur, Ars Orientalis 7, 1968, pp. 53-70
  • Friedrun R. Hau: Gondeschapur, eine Medizinschule aus dem 6. Jahrhundert n. Chr. Gesnerus, XXXVI/1979, S. 98-115.
  • Heinz Herbert Schöffler: Die Akademie von Gondischapur. Aristoteles auf dem Wege in den Orient, 2. Aufl., Stuttgart 1980
  • The Cambridge History of Iran, Bd. 3–4, Cambridge 1983
  • Daniel T. Potts: Gundešapur and Gondeisos, in Me‚ langes P. Amiet II, Iranica Antiqua, 1989, pp. 323-35.
  • Nadjmabadi M.: Historie de la medicine en Iran, 2nd. edition, Tehran University Press, 1992
  • Tajbakhsh H.: History of veterinary medicine and medicine of Iran, Vol. 1, Tehran University Press, 1993
  • Frye, Richard Nelson: The Golden Age of Persia, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1993.
  • Daniel T. Potts: The Archaeology of Elam. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1999, S. 419–424
  • George Ghevarghese Joseph: In his Crest of the Peacock, Princeton University Press, 2000