Coordinates: 32°02′42″N 48°51′34″E / 32.04500°N 48.85944°E / 32.04500; 48.85944
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Persian: شوشتر
Shushtar is located in Iran
Coordinates: 32°02′42″N 48°51′34″E / 32.04500°N 48.85944°E / 32.04500; 48.85944[1]
 • Total101,878
Time zoneUTC+3:30 (IRST)

Shushtar (Persian: شوشتر)[a] is a city in the Central District of Shushtar County, Khuzestan province, Iran, serving as capital of both the county and the district.[4]

At the 2006 National Census, its population was 94,124 in 21,511 households.[5] The following census in 2011 counted 106,815 people in 26,639 households.[6] The latest census in 2016 showed a population of 101,878 people in 28,373 households.[2]

Shushtar is an ancient fortress city, approximately 92 kilometres (57 mi) from Ahvaz, the centre of the province. Much of its past agricultural productivity derives from the irrigation system which centered on the Band-e Kaisar, the first dam bridge in Iran.[7] The whole water system in Shushtar consists of 13 sites called Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System which is registered as a Unesco World Heritage Site.


In the Elamite times Shushtar was known as Adamdun.[citation needed] In the Achaemenian times its name was Šurkutir.[citation needed] According to tradition, Shushtar was founded by the legendary king Hushang after he built Susa (aka Shush), and the name "Shushtar" was a comparative form meaning "more beautiful than Shush".[8] Josef Marquart also interpreted the name Shushtar as being derived from Shush, but with a slightly different meaning, with the suffix "-tar" indicating a direction.[8] The Arabic name of the city, Tustar, is an adaptation of the Persian form Shushtar.[8]

Shushtar may be the "Sostra" mentioned by Pliny the Elder.[8] It is also known in Syriac literature as a Nestorian bishopric.[8]

During the Sassanian era, it was an island city on the Karun river and selected to become the summer capital. The river was channeled to form a moat around the city, while bridges and main gates into Shushtar were built to the east, west, and south. Several rivers nearby are conducive to the extension of agriculture; the cultivation of sugar cane, the main crop, dates back to 226. A system of subterranean channels called Ghanats, which connected the river to the private reservoirs of houses and buildings, supplied water for domestic use and irrigation, as well as to store and supply water during times of war when the main gates were closed. Traces of these ghanats can still be found in the crypts of some houses.

Under the caliphate, Shushtar was the capital of one of the seven kuwar (sub-provinces) that made up Khuzestan.[8] Its kurah likely encompassed the eastern edge of the northern Khuzestan plain.[9]: 178  Today, this area is inhabited by semi-nomadic people, and only lightly - which possibly explains why al-Maqdisi wrote that he "[knew] no towns" that were dependencies of Shushtar.[9]: 178 

Historically, Shushtar was always one of the most important textile-producing cities in Khuzestan.[9]: 185  Authors throughout the Middle Ages consistently listed a diverse array of textile products manufactured at Shushtar.[9]: 185  For example, al-Istakhri (writing c. 933) listed dibaj (brocade) and tiraz; al-Maqdisi (writing c. 1000) listed dibaj, anmat (carpets), cotton, and Merv-style clothes; and Hafiz-i Abru (writing c. 1430) recorded dibaj, tiraz, and harir (silk).[9]: 183  Shushtar's commercial importance was recognized by its being chosen to produce the Kiswah (the embroidered covering for the Kaaba) in 933 — a major honor with political importance.[9]: 185–6 

According to al-Maqdisi's account, there was a cemetery right in the middle of Shushtar.[9]: 338–9  Nanette Marie Pyne says that this is "not as unusual a phenomenon as it sounds: cemeteries in this part of Iran are often placed on the highest ground, in some places to avoid the raised water table, in others to avoid taking cultivable land out of production."[9]: 339  In the case of Shushtar, the highest ground would have been in the middle of the city, on top of the settlement mound formed by Parthian and Sasanian occupation.[9]: 339  Al-Maqdisi also describes that Shushtar's mosque was located "in the middle of the markets in the cloth merchants' area."[9]: 339  A second cloth market was located by the city gate.[9]: 339  The cloth fullers' area was located by the bridge, which was nearby.[9]: 339 

Al-Maqdisi described Shushtar as being surrounded by orchards including date palms, grapes, and citrons.[9]: 337–8  An alternate manuscript also lists "fine pomegranates" and "superior pears". [9]: 339 

Ibn Battuta visited, noting "On both banks of the river, there are orchards and water-wheels, the river itself is deep and over it, leading to the travelers' gate, there is a bridge upon boats."[10]

The ancient fortress walls were destroyed at the end of the Safavid era.

1831 cholera epidemic[edit]

In 1831, a cholera epidemic ravaged Shushtar, killing about half of the city's inhabitants. The Mandaean community was hit particularly hard during the Plague of Shushtar, as all of their priests had died in the plague. Yahya Bihram, the surviving son of a deceased priest, went on to revive the Mandaean priesthood in Shushtar.[11]

Late 1800s to present[edit]

Shushtar benefited from the Karun steamship service established in 1887.[8] It was the farthest point upstream that the boats went, and goods had to be unloaded here and sent overland by caravan.[8] It developed into the main commercial center in southwestern Iran, and by 1938 it had 28,000 residents.[8] During the early 20th century, the city suffered from unrest between its Haydari and Ne'mati factions.[8] The typical Haydari-Ne'mati rivalry also took on a political dimension in Shushtar, since the Haydaris were pro-Arab and pro-monarchy while the Ne'matis were pro-Bakhtiyari and pro-constitutionalist.[8]

With the completion of the Trans-Persian Railway, Shushtar began to decline.[8] The railway bypassed Shushtar in favor of Ahvaz, which took over Shushtar's commercial importance, and Shushtar's population decreased.[8]

Band-e Kaisar[edit]

Map of the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System

The Band-e Kaisar ("Caesar's dam") is believed by some to be a Roman built arch bridge [since Roman captured soldiers were used in its construction], and the first in the country to combine it with a dam.[7] When the Sassanian Shah Shapur I defeated the Roman emperor Valerian, he is said to have ordered the captive Roman soldiers to build a large bridge and dam stretching over 500 metres.[12] Lying deep in Persian territory, the structure which exhibits typical Roman building techniques became the most eastern Roman bridge and Roman dam.[13] Its dual-purpose design exerted a profound influence on Iranian civil engineering and was instrumental in developing Sassanid water management techniques.[14] While the traditional account is disputable, it's not implausible that Roman prisoners of war were involved in its construction.[8]

The approximately 500 m long overflow dam over the Karun, Iran's most effluent river, was the core structure of the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, a large irrigation complex from which Shushtar derived its agricultural productivity,[15] and which has been designated World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 2009.[16] The arched superstructure carried across the important road between Pasargadae and the Sassanid capital Ctesiphon.[17] Many times repaired in the Islamic period,[18] the dam bridge fell out of use in the late 19th century, leading to the degeneration of the complex system of irrigation.[19]

Registration of ancient works in UNESCO World Heritage[edit]

Ancient works of Shushtar, which were registered at the annual meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee on 26 June 2009, under the title of Shushtar Historical Water System, as the tenth work of Iran in the UNESCO World Heritage List with number 1315.[20]

People and culture[edit]

Shushtar handicrafts

The devoutness of Shushtar's people has led to it being nicknamed "Dar al-Mu'minin".[8]

Local tradition attributes certain customs to ancient Roman colonists, as well as the construction of the Band-e Kaisar and the introduction of brocade manufacturing technique.[8]

Historically, the Subbi Kush neighborhood of Shushtar was home to a Mandaean community for centuries, although Mandaeans no longer lived by the 21st century there due to emigration.[11] One of Shushtar's best-known Mandaean priests was Ram Zihrun.[21]: 140 


Shushtar has a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSh) with extremely hot summers and mild winters. Frost does occasionally occur at night during winter, but winters in Shushtar have no snow. Rainfall is higher than most of southern Iran, but is almost exclusively confined to the period from November to April, though on occasions it can exceed 250 millimetres (9.8 in) per month or 600 millimetres (24 in) per year.[22]

Climate data for Shushtar
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 28.0
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 17.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 10.8
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 5.3
Record low °C (°F) −9
Average rainfall mm (inches) 100.6
Average rainy days 9.9 8.1 8.1 6.5 3.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 2.1 6.2 8.0 52
Average relative humidity (%) 75 68 59 49 32 22 24 28 29 40 59 73 47
Mean monthly sunshine hours 131.6 158.4 192.3 217.7 272.5 325.6 322.7 317.0 291.3 234.8 158.2 121.9 2,744
Source: NOAA (1961–1990) [23]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Also Romanized as Shūshtar and Shūstar and Shooshtar[3]


  1. ^ OpenStreetMap contributors (9 August 2023). "Shushtar, Shushtar County" (Map). OpenStreetMap. Retrieved 9 August 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Census of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1395 (2016)". AMAR (in Persian). The Statistical Center of Iran. p. 06. Archived from the original (Excel) on 21 October 2020. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  3. ^ Shushtar can be found at GEOnet Names Server, at this link, by opening the Advanced Search box, entering "-3085511" in the "Unique Feature Id" form, and clicking on "Search Database".
  4. ^ Habibi, Hassan. "Approval of the organization and chain of citizenship of the elements and units of the national divisions of Khuzestan province, centered in the city of Ahvaz". Islamic Parliament Research Center (in Persian). Ministry of Interior, Political and Defense Commission of the Government Board. Archived from the original on 17 July 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2024.
  5. ^ "Census of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1385 (2006)". AMAR (in Persian). The Statistical Center of Iran. p. 06. Archived from the original (Excel) on 20 September 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2022.
  6. ^ "Census of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1390 (2011)". Syracuse University (in Persian). The Statistical Center of Iran. p. 06. Archived from the original (Excel) on 18 January 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  7. ^ a b Vogel 1987, p. 50
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Kramers, J.H. (1997). "SHUSHTAR". In Bosworth, C.E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W.P.; Lecomte, G. (eds.). The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. IX (SAN-SZE) (PDF). Leiden: Brill. pp. 512–3. ISBN 90-04-10422-4. Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Pyne, Nanette Marie (1982). The impact of the Seljuq invasion on Khuzestan: an inquiry into the historical, geographical, numismatic, and archaeological evidence. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  10. ^ Battutah, Ibn (2002). The Travels of Ibn Battutah. London: Picador. p. 64. ISBN 9780330418799.
  11. ^ a b Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen (2002). The Mandaeans: ancient texts and modern people. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515385-5. OCLC 65198443.
  12. ^ Smith 1971, pp. 56–61; Schnitter 1978, p. 32; Kleiss 1983, p. 106; Vogel 1987, p. 50; Hartung & Kuros 1987, p. 232; Hodge 1992, p. 85; O'Connor 1993, p. 130; Huff 2010; Kramers 2010
  13. ^ Schnitter 1978, p. 28, fig. 7
  14. ^ Impact on civil engineering: Huff 2010; on water management: Smith 1971, pp. 60f.
  15. ^ Length: Hodge 1992, p. 85; Hodge 2000, pp. 337f.; extensive irrigation system: O'Connor 1993, p. 130
  16. ^ Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System". UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
  17. ^ Hartung & Kuros 1987, p. 232
  18. ^ Hartung & Kuros 1987, p. 246
  19. ^ Hodge 1992, p. 85; Hodge 2000, pp. 337f.
  20. ^ Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 9 January 2023.
  21. ^ Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen (2010). The great stem of souls: reconstructing Mandaean history. Piscataway, N.J: Gorgias Press. ISBN 978-1-59333-621-9.
  22. ^ "اداره کل هواشناسی استان چهارمحال و بختیاری".
  23. ^ "Shushtar Weather History". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 28 December 2012.


  • Hartung, Fritz; Kuros, Gh. R. (1987), "Historische Talsperren im Iran", in Garbrecht, Günther (ed.), Historische Talsperren, vol. 1, Stuttgart: Verlag Konrad Wittwer, pp. 221–274, ISBN 3-87919-145-X
  • Hodge, A. Trevor (1992), Roman Aqueducts & Water Supply, London: Duckworth, p. 85, ISBN 0-7156-2194-7
  • Hodge, A. Trevor (2000), "Reservoirs and Dams", in Wikander, Örjan (ed.), Handbook of Ancient Water Technology, Technology and Change in History, vol. 2, Leiden: Brill, pp. 331–339 (337f.), ISBN 90-04-11123-9
  • Huff, Dietrich (2010), "Bridges. Pre-Islamic Bridges", in Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.), Encyclopædia Iranica Online
  • Kleiss, Wolfram (1983), "Brückenkonstruktionen in Iran", Architectura, 13: 105–112 (106)
  • Kramers, J. H. (2010), "Shushtar", in Bearman, P. (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed.), Brill Online
  • O'Connor, Colin (1993), Roman Bridges, Cambridge University Press, p. 130 (No. E42), ISBN 0-521-39326-4
  • Schnitter, Niklaus (1978), "Römische Talsperren", Antike Welt, 8 (2): 25–32 (32)
  • Smith, Norman (1971), A History of Dams, London: Peter Davies, pp. 56–61, ISBN 0-432-15090-0
  • Vogel, Alexius (1987), "Die historische Entwicklung der Gewichtsmauer", in Garbrecht, Günther (ed.), Historische Talsperren, vol. 1, Stuttgart: Verlag Konrad Wittwer, pp. 47–56 (50), ISBN 3-87919-145-X

External links[edit]