Saturday, February 27, 2010

Shadravan Bridge

The Shadravan Bridge (پل شادروان) is located on the Karoon River in Khuzestan province and dates back to the Sassanid era. It currently runs parallel to the newly constructed bridge located on the Shushtar-Dezful Road. The bridge was once 550 meters long and included 44 arched openings, but due to negligence today only sixteen arches of the Bridge remain. With occasional flooding and lack of proper maintenance Shadravan Bridge faces the possibility of further deterioration and perhaps complete destruction.  

Shadravan Bridge, also called Shapuri, is located some 300 meters west of Mizan Dam. Its pillars are 7 meter wide, its water passage 8 meters wide, and its height, from the base to the arch crown, around 10 meters. The material used in the project are the traditional ones including river stones, rocks, mortar and old stucco.  

The Bridge was built in the Sassanid era, during the rule of Shapur I, to transfer water to the Khuzestan plain, to protect the farms against heavy floods of Karoun and also to direct ground waters. In the southern wing of the bridge there are ruins of a small room and a pillar which may be the remnants of the facilities for preserving the structure. In order to build this Bridge, Karoon was redirected. Throughout the construction process Mizan Dam was also constructed to raise the water level in order for higher level fields to also be able to be irrigated.  

According to some scholars, Shapur I, upon defeating Valerian, the Roman Emperor subjected him to the greatest insults, such as being used as a human footstool (as depicted at Naghsh’e Rostam). Shapur I used the remaining soldiers in engineering and development plans. One of the conditions that Valerian and his soldiers could be set free was the construction of the Shadravan Bridge. Once the construction of bridge was completed, Shapur I released the Roman Emperor and his soldiers to return back to their lands.  

In 2008, 500 million rials were projected to be allocated to the renovation of Shadravan Bridge, however, Khuzestan’s Cultural Heritage Organization rejected the proposed funding and construction. According to Khuzestan’s Cultural Heritage Organization, such repairs would damage the foundation of the Bridge and were thus a futile exercise. Furthermore it was explained that the seasonal floodings have had no impact on the stability of the Bridge. It was hinted though that if experts from Tehran visited the area and expressed that renovations would result in a positive outcome, they would once again apply for funding.  

Ferdosi has a number of verses in his Shahnameh describing this historical bridge. 

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