Monthly menstrual cycle in Bun-Dahišn, an ancient Persian Manuscript

Document Type: Original Article



The history of Persia (Iran) dates back 10,000 years. Iranian history prior to the introduction of Islam in 637 AD is classified as ancient Persia but unfortunately, very little written evidence remains from that period. Furthermore, there is little current investigative research on this period of Iranian history, so it remains largely unclear, particularly in the case of medical scientific thought. The last period of this era was the Sassanid dynasty (224-637 AD). Some of the manuscripts remained from this period are written in the Pahlavic language, illuminating this dark period in the history of medical science. One of these ancient Pahlavic manuscripts is entitled “Bun-Dahišn”. It is analyzed in this paper to uncover ancient Persian wisdom on the female monthly menstrual cycle. The book is fundamentally about genesis and creation rather than medicine, but it holds valuable information about attitudes of the time to the female menstrual cycle. The manuscript describes the female menstrual cycle in terms of three phases. The first of which is the Pēš-ābest, phase of the female reproductive cycle; Ābast, refers to the second phase; and the third phase is termed Daštān and refers to the menstrual period itself. This is the principle concept conveyed in this manuscript, which can be related to current concepts of gynecology. However, in comparison with other ancient civilizations, it can be considered as a novel and advanced theory. Regarding this ancient text from a current perspective and in relation to modern knowledge in the field is an insightful way to track the progression of thought in gynecology.