Sura was with Pumbedita from the 3rd to the 11th century, the most important center of Jewish learning in Babylonia. It was here that most of the Babylonian Talmud. The city lay in southern Babylonia at the point where the Euphrates divided into two arms. The area was known for its great fertility. In the region of Sura vines, fruit, wheat and rye were grown and used in animal husbandry; the fields were irrigated from the Euphrates.
The growth of Sura was based on the center for Torah study, which was built by Abba Arikha when he emigrated in the year 219 from Palestine to Babylonia at Sura and laid the foundation for the Babylonian Talmud. By the end of the 3rd century, the Academy Sura has held a leading position and was then surpassed by Pumbedita. At the time of Rav Ashi ( 352-427 ) won again Sura important. After the death of Rav Ashi, one of the most important authors of the Babylonian Talmud, the religious significance of Sura decreased. Due to the religious persecution of the Persian kings Peroz I and II Yazdegerd the number of scholars and students took off.
According to Islamic expansion, the Academy Sura regained importance, as the Exilarch Solomon ben Chisdai the head of the Academy of Pumbedita, Samuel, in the year 730 appointed Gaon of Sura. An epithet Suras of this period is Jeschiwat Resch Galuta ( Aramaic " Yeshiva of exilarch "). At the beginning of the 10th century drew the Academy of Sura order to Baghdad, but was transformed into Saadia Gaon, who was appointed to her 928 head, again a leading role. By the 10th century Sura was mostly populated by Jews. However, when Benjamin of Tudela visited the area in 1170, he found here no more Jewish settlement and described the city as a field of ruins.