Khuzestan province, Iran
“We traveled for three nights across open country inhabited by Kurds in hair tents who are said to be Arabs by origin and then reached the town of Ramiz, a fine city with fruit trees and rivers. I stayed only one night in the town of Ramiz after which we continued our journey for three nights more across a plain where there were are villages inhabited by Kurds. At the end of each stage of this journey there was a hospice at which every traveller was supplied with bread, meat and sweetmeats. ”
Ibn Battuta would find Ramiz is now Ramhormuz. And while a large proportion of the population in this part of Iran is indeed ethnically Arab, they are no longer nomadic, although as recently as the 1920’s, tribal Arab attacks in the countryside were such that the government deferred the building of roads. And the Kurds, who are easily identifiable because of their dress; the men wear baggy pants gathered tightly at the ankle called shalwar, are not Arab. The majority of Iran’s Kurdish population lives in the northern province of Kurdistan, although small communities are still to be found in neighboring provinces. In Ramhormuz we went in search of the Tourism Department who we thought might know if any buildings remained from the 14th century. We met the very helpful director who gave us a list of his town’s 77 monuments of which precisely none corresponded to the time of Ibn Battuta. By way of recompense perhaps he showed us, on the computer, items from a recent extraordinary find; a cache of gold jewelry (and a burial site), dating back to the Elamite and Achaemenid periods. Apparently the ground was being dug for the laying of water pipes when workers came across the find; rings, smooth and ridged rings of kingship, bangles, belts, bracelets, armlets, buttons, fibulae, and beautifully-crafted woven and plaited gold belts with dangling pieces studded with agates and other semi-precious stones, were in miraculous shape. A lovely 19th-century Qajar building currently undergoing renovation will house the collection.