Tag Archives: Parthian History

HISTORIA I ŚWIAT

The sixth issue of Historia i Świat (2017) has been published. Many papers of this issue are related to our interest:

  • Svyatoslav V. SMIRNOV: Notes on Timarchos’ Iconography: Dioscuri Type
  • Mozhgan KHANMORADI & Kamal Aldin NIKNAMI: An Analytical Approach to Investigate the Parthians Painted Stuccoes from Qal‘eh-i Yazdigird, Western Iran
  • Ilkka SYVÄNNE: Parthian Cataphract vs. the Roman Army 53 BC-AD 224
  • Morteza KHANIPOOR, Hosseinali KAVOSH & Reza NASERI: The reliefs of Naqš-e Rostam and a reflection on a forgotten relief, Iran
  • Gholamreza KARAMIAN & Kaveh FARROKH: Sassanian stucco decorations from the Ramavand (Barz Qawaleh) excavations in the Lorestan Province of Iran
  • Katarzyna MAKSYMIUK: The capture Ḥaṭrā in light of military and political activities of Ardašīr I
  • Michael Richard JACKSON BONNER: A Brief Military History of the Later Reign of Šapur II
  • Patryk SKUPNIEWICZ: The bullae of the spahbedan. Some iconographic remarks
  • Joan ZOUBERI: The role of religion in the foreign affairs of Sasanian Iran and the Later Roman Empire (330-630 A.D.)
  • Tomasz SIŃCZAK: New Russian view on Sassanid Empire. Polemic with book: М. Мочалов, Д. Полежаев, Держава Сасанидов 224 – 653 годы, Москва 2016

Parthian Great King’s rule over vassal Kingdoms

Gregoratti, Leonardo. 2017. “Sinews of the other Empire: Parthian Great King’s rule over vassal Kingdoms” in H. Teigen and E. Seland (eds.), Sinews of Empire: Networks in the Roman Near East and Beyond, 95-104. Oxford, Oxbow Books.

The Great Kings of Parthia, belonging to the Arsacid dynasty, ruled a large empire in south-western Asia, from India to the Euphrates, for more than three centuries (first century BC–third century AD). Within the large geographical area controlled by the Arsacids, next to the satrapies directly controlled by royal officers, a series of autonomous kingdoms existed, ruled by local dynasties, which in some cases existed before the coming of the Parthians, and whose authority over their territories was acknowledged by the Great King. Unlike the Roman ones, the Parthian vassal kingdoms never ceased to be one of the most important means the Great King had at his disposal to control key areas of his vast dominions. This paper investigates the different solutions the Arsacids conceived and put into action in order to keep control over those political subjects. The employment of three main forms of action: maintaining a local dynasty, temporary direct occupation and the creation of a client kingdom ruled by an Arsacid monarch, over the whole spectrum of client states will be the subject of the investigation.

Greek and Roman Authors’ Views of the Arsacid Empire

Wiesehöfer, Josef & Sabine Müller (eds.). 2017. Parthika. Greek and Roman authors’ views of the Arsacid Empire (Classica et Orientalia 15). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Established in the third century BC, the multi-cultural and multi-lingual Arsacid Empire became Rome’s major opponent in the East from the first century BC to its end in the third century AD. According to a Roman idea, the orbis was evenly divided between the Parthians and the Romans. However, in the Arsacid Empire oral tradition prevailed and, for a long time, there was no Arsacid historiography concerning perception, reception and interpretation. Therefore, Greco-Roman views and images of the Parthians, Arsacids and their Empire predominated.
Focusing on literary depictions in ancient Greek and Roman literature and examining stereotypes, this volume brings together twelve papers on Greco-Roman perceptions and images of the Arsacid Empire. Part I consists of eight papers primarily concerned with re-assessments of Apollodorus of Artemita and Isidorus of Charax regarding their value as source of information on the Arsacid Empire. Part II contains four papers dealing with the images of the Arsacid Empire in the works of Josephus, Trogus-Justin, Tacitus and Arrian, viewed against their respective socio-political and cultural background.

Issue seven of Anabasis

Issue seven of “Anabasis“, edited by Marek Jan Olbrycht is out now. Several papers and reviews of this issue are related to ancient Iran:

  •  Marek Jan Olbrycht: The Sacral Kingship of the Early Arsacids I. Fire Cult and Kingly Glory
  • Nikolaus L. Overtoom: The Rivalry of Rome and Parthia in the Sources from the Augustan Age to Late Antiquity
  • Martin Schottky: Vorarbeiten zu einer Königsliste Kaukasisch-Iberiens. 5. Im Schatten Schapurs II
  • Xiaoyan Qi: Elspeth R. M. Dusinberre, Empire, Authority, and Autonomy in Achaemenid Anatolia, Cam-bridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013
  • Jeffrey D. Lerner: Robert Rollinger, Alexander und die großen Ströme. Die Flussüberquerungen im Lichte altorientalischer Pioniertechniken (Schwimmschläuche, Keleks und Pontonbrücken), Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz Verlag, 2013
  • Erich Kettenhofen: Rabbo l‘olmyn «Maître pour l‘Éternité». Florilège offert à Philippe Gignoux pour son 80e anniversaire. Textes réunis par Rika Gyselen et Christelle Jullien, Paris: Association pour l’avancement des Études Iraniennes, 2011

The history of the Parthians in the Geography of Strabo

Dabrowa, Edward . 2015. “L’ histoire des Parthes dans la Geographie de Strabon“, Studi Ellenistici 29, 285-303.

Manpower Resources and Army Organisation in the Arsakid Empire

Stucco relief of an infantry soldier, from the Iranian Parthian Dynasty (247 BC - 224 AD), Zahhak castle, Haštrūd, Eastern Āzarbāiğān, Iran. Āzarbāiğān Museum, Tabriz (Iran)
Stucco relief of an infantry soldier, from the Iranian Parthian Dynasty (247 BC – 224 AD), Zahhak castle, Haštrūd, Eastern Āzarbāiğān, Iran. Āzarbāiğān Museum, Tabriz (Iran)

Olbrycht, Marek J. 2016. “Manpower Resources and Army Organisation in the Arsakid Empire“. Ancient Society 46, 291-338.

As the territory of the Arsakid state (248 BC – AD 226) increased in size, the Parthians were able to expand their demographic and economic base. This led to an increase in the size and military might of the armed forces. The military strength and effectiveness of the army were key factors in determining the Parthians’ political relations with their neighbours, especially the Seleukid empire, Rome, the Caucasus lands, the nomadic peoples of the Caspian – North Caucasus region, and the peoples of Central Asia. From the 1st century bc onward the Arsakids had a military potential of almost 300,000 soldiers. This mobilisation strength mirrors the size of the Arsakid armed forces in a defensive stance, including the royal forces, Parthian national army, garrisons, and mercenaries. As a number of units were not suitable for offensive operations, one may assume that the power of an offensive army might not have exceeded half of the total figure, i.e. about 140,000-150,000. This is slightly more than the figure of 120,000 soldiers which appears as the total for the largest of Arsakid armies.

Parthian kingship

Edward Dąbrowa, “Kingship ii. Parthian Period,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2016, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/kingship-02-parthian-period (accessed on 25 July 2016).

Parthian kingship started with the Arsacids monarchy and was an original form of Oriental kingship. The royal ideology was created by combining elements of different provenance; Greek elements were systematically removed or relegated to be replaced by Iranian traditions.

The Parthian nobility in Xusrō I Anōšīrvān court

Maksymiuk, Katarzyna. 2015. The Parthian nobility in Xusrō I Anōšīrvān court. In Piotr Briks (ed.), Elites in the Ancient World (Szczecińskie Studia nad Starożytnością II), 189–198. Wydawnictwo Naukowe.

Sources rewritten by order of Persian rulers (Pārsīg) in 6th century diminish the role of the Parthians (Pahlav) in the official history of Iran. In Xwadāy Nāmag a method of the Parthian reign recalculation to half of its actual duration was applied. Propaganda forgery of Xusrō I (531–579) so called Nāma-ye Tansar, shows Iran before power takeover by the Sasanian dynasty as a decentralized and corrupted state but even as “heretical” one. Contrast to the weak power of the Arsacid royal house had to be kingship of Šāhānšāh Ardašīr (224–242) who centralized administration relying on the Mazdean.
This paper is aimed at showing dominant role of the Parthian nobility in Persian government system. This is also attempt to answer the question whether administrative reforms initiated by Kawād I (488–496,498–531) and continued by his son Xusrō I Anōšīrvān were directed against status of the Parthian noblemen in Iran.

Parthian History

Die Parther - die vergessene GroßmachtEllerbrock, Uwe & Sylvia Winkelmann. 2015. Die Parther: Die vergessene Großmacht. 2 rev. ed. Darmstadt: Verlag Philipp von Zabern.
Uwe Ellerbrock and Sylvia Winkelmann convey in this book a comprehensive overview of the historical and cultural development of the Parthian EmpireVery detailed and comprehensive is the presentation of the entire culture of the Parthians, particularly the different aspects of the Parthian kingship as well as arts and religions of the empire which provides the reader an extensive understanding of life of the Parthians and their embedding within the ancient world.
About the Autors:
Uwe Ellerbrock is a specialist in anesthesia. For over 15 years he is a collector of Parthian coins and deals intensively with the history of the Parthian Empire.
Sylvia Winkelmann received her doctorate in Oriental Archeology at the University of Halle, specializing in Central Asia.