The Cradle of Culture and Arts
There are many meanings and interpretations for the word "Khuzestan", which shows the antiquity of this land. Some say that Khuz is the name of a tribe which inhibited this territory. lbn Manzoor, in 711 B.H. (Lunar C.), in
Lesan-ul-Arab (The Languages of Arab) points out that "Khuz" was a tribe with Persian origin. On the other hand, sugar and sugar cane have also been given for the meaning of Khuz; and the fertile soil of Khuzestan has a splendid potential for growing this plant, and the best sugar cane is harvested there.
In ancient times, especially during the reign of Achaemenid dynesty, Khuzestan was divided into two distinct regions. The northern and north-eastern parts were called "Anshan" and "Anzan", which consisted of scenic plains with many mountains covered with great forests. The southern part, which had humid and warm weather and fertile plains and a grassy and moist prairie, resembled a small gifted continent. The southern part was also called "Elam" which is the cradle of an ancient civilazation in this region, and was strongly influenced by Mesopotamian culture. It was a large region consisting of Lorestan and KhuzestanProvinces of today and the coasts of the Persian Gulf.
Estaraboon, the ancient geographer, calls Khuzestan "One of the most fertile plains in the world", because of the many rivers which irrigated this land, and therefore, gave it a great agricultural and developmental potential. Perhaps it is for this very reason that some believe the name of this region had been "Hind" or "And" which meant "a place with a lot of water. In "Majma-ul- Tavarikh val Ghesas" (The Collection of histories and Tales) Khuzestan appears with such names as Hajuestan, Hobujestan, and Ajar, which seem to be derived from Hobujestan and Hujestan in Pahlavi languge. As in some dialects, such as Lori and Bakhtiari, the sound "h" is sometimes used for pronouncing "Kh" , the words "00/", "hoo/" and "Khuz" have in the process of time been added to the suffix "Estan", and the word oojestan has gradually changed to Hujestan, and finally, the word Khuzestan was formed.
It is of significance to note that in ancient Persian dialects and in Pahlavi language, the sound "00" was changable to "hoo" as in such words like Oormazd Hoormazd or Ooshmand Hooshmand. And Hoordad has also been pronounced "Khordad" and "Khoortat".
Yaghoot Hamavi, the medieval geographer, states that the words "Khooz", "Hooz", "Ahvaz" and "Hoveize" are of the same origin. Up to recent years, the mentioned words were written with the letter "ح "[having an Arabic impression]. Ahvaz is the anagram of "Avaz" and "which appear in Darius"s epigraph, and this word appears in Naghsh-Rostam inscription as "Khaja" or "Khooja"; and Ahvaz was the seat of KhuzestanProvince in the old days. This city was founded by Ardeshir-Babakan, the founder of Sasanid Dynesty, and used to be called Hoomshir or Hormoz-Ardeshir. The combination Khujestan Vajar"or "Hujestan Vajareh" meant "Khuzestan Bazzar"; which up to recent decades, the Arab speakers called Ahvaz "Soogh-ul-Ahvaz", meaning "the Bazaar of Ahvaz".
"Ahvaz" or "Hormoz Ardeshir" combining God"s name and the king"s name, was built in two parts. In one part, the nobles of the city lived; and the other part was inhibited by merchants. During the conquest of Khuzestan by Arabs, "the noble"s city" was demolished; but the merchant city (Soogh-ul-Ahvaz) remained intact. Ahvaz is a Persian word and a Persian city, and Abu-Mansoore Javalighi, in the fifth century A.H., writes, "Ahvaz is the name of an Iranian city which its Persian name has been Arabicized and the Arabs have accepted the Persian dictation of the word."
Some others think that "Ahvaz" and "Khuzestan are related to the name "Ooksin", a city in the era of Elam civilazation, and are the changed forms of the words "Ooks", "Ookz", "Hookz", "Huz" and "Khuz". The existance of scientific and cultural centers, such as "Jondi-ShapoorUniversity" which gathered distiguished medical scientists from Egypt, Greece, India and Rome treating the patients and teaching the medical students, shows the importance and prosperity of this region during the ancient times. Jondi-Shapoor medical school was founded by the order of Shapoor I (241-271 A.D.). It was repaired and restored by Shapoor II (Zol-Aktaf: The Possessor of Shoulder blades) and was completed and expanded during the reign of Anushirvan.
Many scientists, philosophers and poets have come from Khuzestan territory. To name a few are Abu-Navas Hassan-lbn-Hauni-Khuzestani, one of the dignitaries of Arabic poetry; Abdollah-lbn-Meymoon Ahvazi, the astronomer Nobakht Ahvazi and his sons; Jorjis, the son of Bakhtshooa" Gondishapoori; lbn Sakit and Da"bal-e-Khazayee, the Arabic speaking Shia" poets who have praised the vilayat and Imamat (guardianship and leadership) of the holy Imams in their poems; and many more.