1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Shushter

SHUSHTER, a district and town of the province of Arabistan (former Khuzistan) in Persia, S. of Dizful, and N. of Ahvaz. The district contains the town of the same name and 22 villages, and, including about 3700 nomad families of the Kunduzlu, Saad, Anafijeh and Al i Kethir tribes, has a population of about 40,000 and pays a yearly revenue of £6000. The district produces grain, opium, cotton, wool, limes (their juice, made into green extract, is exported in little earthenware jars), and manufactures gilims (woollen carpets without pile).

The town of Shuster, with a population of 15,000, is situated at the point where the river Karun, after breaking through the Fedelek hills, bifurcates into the Gerger canal, flowing E;, and the Shutait river flowing W. of it, in 32° 3′ N. and 48° 53′ E., and built on slightly elevated ground which rises gradually from the south-west to the citadel, Kalah Salasil,[1] standing in the north-eastern corner on a sandstone hill ending with a precipice about 80 ft. in height towards the river on the north. The ground covered by the citadel measures nearly 350 by 150 yds., and the town occupies a space of a square mile.

At the point of the divergence of the Gerger from the Karun, 600 yds. above the town, an artificial dike constructed of large blocks of hewn stone is thrown across the opening of the former. It was known as the Band i Kaisar (the Caesar's Dike), but after having been repaired by Mahommed Ali Mirza, a son of F ath Ali Shah, in the early part of the 19th century, it was called Band Shahzadeh, or Prince's Dike. A little distance below this dike begins the artificial cutting in the sandstone rock and at half a mile from it is a second band, 60 yds. long, 65 ft. high, which completely blocks the progress of the stream. It has a roadway on the top, and, as it connected the town with the Village Bulaiti (now deserted) on the other side, was called Pul i Bulaiti, i.e. Bridge of Bulaiti. At 'a short distance above it some tunnels have been pierced in the rock below the canal level on either side of the Gerger. From the point where the principal river parts with the Gerger down to a point 500 yds. below the citadel the river bed was paved with great flags of stone, the pavement being called Shadurvan. At the end of the pavement stand the band and bridge ascribed to the Roman emperor Valerian. The band is called Band i Mizan, the bridge Puli Kaisar. The bridge has been built and rebuilt several times and its forty-one arches differ in material, style and size. Its length is 560 yds., and its roadway is 7 yds. wide. Seventy yards of band and bridge were swept away in 1885. Between the bridge and the Gerger opening and cut into the rock on which the western part of the citadel stands is a tunnel leading to a canal formerly called Darian, now Minab, i.e. Mian-do-ab, “ between two rivers,” because it waters the district south of the town lying between Gerger and Shutait. With the break of the band in 1885 the level of the main river has fallen and the Minab canal is not properly hlled, causing much damage to cultivation in the district.

Persian tradition has it that Ardashir (either Artaxerxes of the old Persian kings or Ardashir of the Sassanians) built the first dike across the river in order to raise the water of the river to the level of the Darian canal. The dike became destroyed and was renewed under the Sassanjan Shapur I. by Roman workmen sent for by Valerian who had been captured by the Persian king in 260. That Valerian had a part in constructing these remarkable works does not rest upon any historical basis; we may, however, believe that the Sassanian Ardashir, or his son Shapur I, finding that the river, having its bed in friable soil, was daily getting lower and finally threatened to leave the town and the Mian-do-ab district dry by not filling the Darian canal, engaged Roman workmen. The Gerger canal was cut and the river diverted from west to east of the town. The old river then became emptied and its bed was raised and, to prevent further erosion and washing away of the soil and a consequent fall of the river, was paved with huge fiags. Then the Band i Mizan and the great bridge were erected across the river and finally a dam was constructed across the Gerger canal, where is now the Pul i Bulaiti, so as to turn back the Karun into its original channel, but later, by means of sluices and tunnels, the flow of water was regulated in such a manner that two-sixths of the water flowed east and four-sixths west of the town. This gave rise to the later appellations Do-Dank and Chahar Dank, i.e. two-sixths and four-sixths for the Gerger and Shutait respectively.  (A. H.-S.) 

  1. Considered to represent the Sele of Ammianus Marcellinus (xxiii. c. 6, 26), a city in Susiana, and of Ptolemy (Tab. v.).