The Parthians: The Forgotten Empire

Ellerbrock, Uwe. 2021. The Parthians: The forgotten empire. London & New York: Routledge.

This volume provides a comprehensive overview of the history and culture of the Parthian Empire, which existed for almost 500 years from 247 BC to 224 AD.

The Parthians were Rome’s great opponents in the east, but comparatively little is known about them. The Parthians focuses on the rise, expansion, flowering and decline of the Parthian Empire and covers both the wars with the Romans in the west and the nomads in the east. Sources include the small amount from the Empire itself, as well as those from outside the Parthian world, such as Greek, Roman and Chinese documents. Ellerbrock also explores the Parthian military, social history, religions, art, architecture and numismatics, all supported by a great number of images and maps.

The Parthians is an invaluable resource for those studying the Ancient Near East during the period of the Parthian Empire, as well as for more general readers interested in this era.

Table of Contents:

List of tables

List of figures


Glossary of historic place names

I. The Parthian Empire: A First Approach

II. History of the Great Empires in Iran

III. History of the Parthian Empire

III.1. Phase 1: The development from a Seleucid vassal state to the Parthian Empire: from Arsaces I to Phraates I (c. 247-171 BC)

III.2. Phase 2: Expansion of the Parthian Empire: from Mithradates I to Darius of Media Atropatene (c. 171-70 BC)

III.3. Phase 3: Parthia as Great Power: from Phraates III to Vonones II (c. 70 BC – c. 51 AD)

III.4. Phase 4: Phases of stability – inner turmoil – decline of the Parthian Empire: from Vologases I (ca. 51 – 79 AD) to Artabanus IV (c. 216 – 224 AD)

III.5. Ardashir I and the newly founded Sasanian Empire

III.6. The end of the Parthian Empire – reasons for the downfall

IV. The Structure of the Parthian Empire

IV.1. The king

IV.2. The nobility

IV.3. The Parthian army – standing army – Parthian Shot

IV.4. Administrative structure of the Empire

IV.5. Parthian Queens and marriage policy

V. Vassal States and Kingdoms under Parthian Influence

VI. The Parthian Empire and the Peoples of Eurasia

VII. Cities and Architecture in the Parthian Empire

VII.1. Structure and architecture of the Cities

VII.2. Cities in the homeland of the Parthians and in Iran

VII.3. Cities in Syria and Mesopotamia

VIII. Trade and Business in the Parthian Empire

IX. Insights into Social Life in Parthia

X. Parthian Art: Art in the Arsacid Kingdom

XI. The Parthian Empire and its Religions

XI.1. General information to Zoroastrianism and the Avesta

XI.2. Iconography of Parthian coins – references to the Zoroastrian faith

XI.3. Manichaeism – religion with Parthian origins

XI.4. Mithraism

XI.5. Judaism in Parthia

XI.6. Christianity in Parthia: the proselytizing by the Apostle Thomas