The Mausoleum of Avicenna - Hamedan

Avicenna Mausoleum (Tomb of Avicenna)

Avicenna Mausoleum (also known as Abu Ali Ibn Sina Tomb, Ibn-e Sina Mausoleum and Avicenna Tomb Museum) is one of the greatest tourist attractions in Hamedan. This complex is located in a square with the same name. As well as the tomb, a library and a museum are also located in this complex. Join us in this article to explore a little deeper the monument and its history.

Who was Avicenna?

Ibn Sina or Abu Ali Sina, which is known as Avicenna in the west, was one of the most significant figures of the Islamic Golden Age. Not only he was a great physician, astronomer, thinker and writer, he also played a significant role in the history of medicine. He was a great poet and theologian as well. Avicenna lived between the tenth and eleventh centuries. He is famous for being “the most influential philosopher of the pre-modern era”. He wrote 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects and around 240 of them have survived. Particularly, 150 of his surviving essays concentrate on philosophy and 40 of them are about medicine.

“Al Qanun Fi Al-Tibb” (The Canon of Medicine) is Avicenna’s most famous book in medical science. It is in fact, a five-volume encyclopedia in medicine which has over a million words. Due to his great work, this book was translated into Latin in the twelfth century. This book became a reference in the medicine world. It was taught as a medical textbook in Europe and the Islamic world until the early modern period. The book covers medical knowledge since ancient times to the existing Muslim sources. This great book was reprinted in New York in 1973. It continues to be an important source in the medical science world.

“The book of healing” is Avicenna’s another major work. It is a philosophical and scientific encyclopedia and has influenced many European scholars. In this book, he intends to ‘heal’ the soul. The book is comprised of 4 sections: logic, natural sciences, mathematics, and metaphysics. With great innovation, Avicenna develops his system of logic in this book.

In his philosophy, Avicenna considers God as the Necessary Existence. This principle sets the foundation for his theories of the soul, intellect, and cosmos. He also did a great job in astronomy. He proposed that Venus is closer to the Sun than the Earth. He also developed an instrument for observing the coordinates of a star and declared that the stars are self-luminous. His ideas in the realm of metaphysics had a huge impact on great western philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas.

The Architecture of Mausoleum

The tomb is located in 3,090 sq. m area and is designed by Hooshang Seyhoon. Seyhoon is one of the most renowned contemporary Iranian architects. He has designed the tombs of many figures such as Khayam, Kamal ol Molk, Avicenna, and Ferdowsi. He has also designed Tehran’s railway station. Because of his great works, he is known as “Man of Lasting Monuments”.  Monuments such as “Gonbad-e Qaboos”, the oldest registered Islamic monument, and “Persepolis” inspired Seyhoon to design such a tomb for Avicenna. Thus, the tomb is a combination of both ancient and post-Islamic era of Iranian architecture. It is among the greatest example of Iranian contemporary art.
Stepping on some wide steps, you will reach to a porch where there are ten stone columns. The wide wooden doors open to the interior part of the tomb. As Seyhoon has explained, each column here represents a century from the time of his birth up to date. Given that the reason for the construction of the new tomb was to commemorate the millennium of Avicenna’s life and the first one was built during the Qajar era. The new building was constructed in 1957.

Besides, the twelve pillars of the tower symbolize the twelve sciences that Avicenna dominated at that time.  The other elements such as the surrounding garden resemble traditional Iranian elements like Iranian gardens. Or, the exterior of the building adorned with Alvand Mountain granites is an example of the ancient Iranian palaces. The waterfront of the tomb reminds us of traditional Iranian basins (Howz-Khanh).

The current location of Avicenna’s tomb is, in fact, the house and the tomb of his beloved friend, Abu Saied, with whom he spent many years of his life. While transferring the remaining of his body to the new place, a photo of his skull has been taken. You can see the photo in this complex as well.

The Museum of Avicenna

In the southern part of the mausoleum, there is a museum which showcases many ancient objects. You can see coins, ceramics, bronzes, and other discovered items from the B.C. millenniums and the Islamic era. In the northern part of the tomb, there is a great library with more than 8000 volumes of handwritten and printed Iranian and foreign books.