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Sasania

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Meaning and Origin What does the name Sasania mean? Find out below. Origin and Meaning of Sasania. Sasania Means.

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Fun Facts about the name Sasania How unique is the name Sasania? Out of 6,, records in the U. Social Security Administration public data, the first name Sasania was not present.

It is possible the name you are searching has less than five occurrences per year. Weird things about the name Sasania: The name spelled backwards is Ainasas.

A random rearrangement of the letters in the name anagram will give Iaaasns. How do you pronounce that? Add Your Name. Year Name poster for Sasania.

Sources: U. Twitter Facebook Pinterest YouTube. Terms of Service About Names. Both empires benefited from trade along the Silk Road and shared a common interest in preserving and protecting that trade.

They cooperated in guarding the trade routes through central Asia, and both built outposts in border areas to keep caravans safe from nomadic tribes and bandits.

Politically, there is evidence of several Sassanid and Chinese efforts in forging alliances against the common enemy, the Hephthalites.

Upon the rise of the nomadic Göktürks in Inner Asia, there is also what looks like a collaboration between China and the Sassanids to defuse Turkic advances.

Documents from Mt. Mogh talk about the presence of a Chinese general in the service of the king of Sogdiana at the time of the Arab invasions.

Both Peroz and his son Narsieh Chinese neh-shie were given high titles at the Chinese court. On at least two occasions, the last possibly in , Chinese troops were sent with Peroz in order to restore him to the Sassanid throne with mixed results, one possibly ending in a short rule of Peroz in Sakastan, from which we have some remaining numismatic evidence.

Narsieh later attained the position of a commander of the Chinese imperial guards, and his descendants lived in China as respected princes, Sassanian refugees fleeing from the Arab conquest to settle in China.

Following the conquest of Iran and neighboring regions, Shapur I extended his authority northwest of the Indian subcontinent.

The previously autonomous Kushans were obliged to accept his suzerainty. Although the Kushan empire declined at the end of the 3rd century, to be replaced by the Indian Gupta Empire in the 4th century, it is clear that the Sassanids remained relevant in India's northwest throughout this period.

Persia and northwestern India, the latter that made up formerly part of the Kushans, engaged in cultural as well as political intercourse during this period, as certain Sassanid practices spread into the Kushan territories.

In particular, the Kushans were influenced by the Sassanid conception of kingship, which spread through the trade of Sassanid silverware and textiles depicting emperors hunting or dispensing justice.

This cultural interchange did not, however, spread Sassanid religious practices or attitudes to the Kushans. Lower-level cultural interchanges also took place between India and Persia during this period.

For example, Persians imported the early form of chess , the chaturanga Middle Persian: chatrang from India. Some of these later found their way into the literature of the Islamic world and Arabic literature.

A notable example of this was the translation of the Indian Panchatantra by one of Khosrau's ministers, Borzuya. In Indian books, Borzuya read that on a mountain in that land there grows a plant which when sprinkled over the dead revives them.

Borzuya asked Khosrau I for permission to travel to India to obtain the plant. After a fruitless search, he was led to an ascetic who revealed the secret of the plant to him: The "plant" was word, the "mountain" learning, and the "dead" the ignorant.

He told Borzuya of a book, the remedy of ignorance, called the Kalila , which was kept in a treasure chamber. The king of India gave Borzuya permission to read the Kalila, provided that he did not make a copy of it.

Borzuya accepted the condition but each day memorized a chapter of the book. When he returned to his room he would record what he had memorized that day, thus creating a copy of the book, which he sent to Iran.

In Iran, Bozorgmehr translated the book into Pahlavi and, at Borzuya's request, named the first chapter after him.

In contrast to Parthian society, the Sassanids renewed emphasis on a charismatic and centralized government. In Sassanid theory, the ideal society could maintain stability and justice, and the necessary instrument for this was a strong monarch.

During the late Sasanian period, Mesopotamia had the largest population density in the medieval world. During the Sasanian period, many cities with the name "Iran-khwarrah" were established.

This was because Sasanians wanted to revive Avesta ideology. Many of these cities, both new and old, were populated not only by native ethnic groups, such as the Iranians or Syriacs, but also by the deported Roman prisoners of war, such as Goths , Slavs , Latins , and others.

This allowed the Sasanians to become familiar with Roman technology. The impact these foreigners made on the economy was significant, as many of them were Christians, and the spread of the religion accelerated throughout the empire.

It is known that they were called "Kurds" by the Sasanians, and that they regularly served the Sasanian military, particularly the Dailamite and Gilani nomads.

This way of handling the nomads continued into the Islamic period, where the service of the Dailamites and Gilanis continued unabated.

The head of the Sasanian Empire was the shahanshah king of kings , also simply known as the shah king. His health and welfare was of high importance—accordingly, the phrase "May you be immortal" was used to reply to him.

The Sasanian coins which appeared from the 6th-century and afterwards depict a moon and sun, which, in the words of the Iranian historian Touraj Daryaee , "suggest that the king was at the center of the world and the sun and moon revolved around him.

In effect he was the "king of the four corners of the world", which was an old Mesopotamian idea. The king wore colorful clothes, makeup, a heavy crown, while his beard was decorated with gold.

The early Sasanian kings considered themselves of divine descent; they called themselves "bay" divine. When the king went out in public, he was hidden behind a curtain, [] and had some of his men in front of him, whose duty was to keep the masses away from him and to clear the way.

The king's guards were known as the pushtigban. On other occasions, the king was protected by a discrete group of palace guards, known as the darigan.

Both of these groups were enlisted from royal families of the Sasanian Empire, [] and were under the command of the hazarbed , who was in charge of the king's safety, controlled the entrance of the kings palace, presented visitors to the king, and was allowed military commands or used as a negotiator.

The hazarbed was also allowed in some cases to serve as the royal executioner. Sassanid society was immensely complex, with separate systems of social organization governing numerous different groups within the empire.

At the center of the Sasanian caste system the shahanshah ruled over all the nobles. This social system appears to have been fairly rigid.

The Sasanian caste system outlived the empire, continuing in the early Islamic period. In general, mass slavery was never practiced by the Iranians, and in many cases the situation and lives of semi-slaves prisoners of war were, in fact, better than those of the commoner.

The most common slaves in the Sasanian Empire were the household servants, who worked in private estates and at the fire-temples.

Usage of a woman slave in a home was common, and her master had outright control over her and could even produce children with her if he wanted to. Slaves also received wages and were able to have their own families whether they were female or male.

The master of a slave was allowed to free the person when he wanted to, which, no matter what faith the slave believed in, was considered a good deed.

There was a major school, called the Grand School, in the capital. In the beginning, only 50 students were allowed to study at the Grand School.

In less than years, enrollment at the Grand School was over 30, students. On a lower level, Sasanian society was divided into Azatan freemen , who jealously guarded their status as descendants of ancient Aryan conquerors, and the mass of originally non-Aryan peasantry.

The Azatan formed a large low-aristocracy of low-level administrators, mostly living on small estates. The Azatan provided the cavalry backbone of the Sasanian army.

The Sasanian kings were patrons of letters and philosophy. Khosrau I had the works of Plato and Aristotle , translated into Pahlavi, taught at Gundishapur, and read them himself.

During his reign, many historical annals were compiled, of which the sole survivor is the Karnamak-i Artaxshir-i Papakan Deeds of Ardashir , a mixture of history and romance that served as the basis of the Iranian national epic, the Shahnameh.

When Justinian I closed the schools of Athens , seven of their professors went to Persia and found refuge at Khosrau's court.

In his treaty of with Justinian, the Sasanian king stipulated that the Greek sages should be allowed to return and be free from persecution.

Under Khosrau I, the Academy of Gundishapur , which had been founded in the 5th century, became "the greatest intellectual center of the time", drawing students and teachers from every quarter of the known world.

Nestorian Christians were received there, and brought Syriac translations of Greek works in medicine and philosophy.

The medical lore of India, Persia, Syria and Greece mingled there to produce a flourishing school of therapy.

Artistically, the Sasanian period witnessed some of the highest achievements of Iranian civilization. Much of what later became known as Muslim culture, including architecture and writing, was originally drawn from Persian culture.

At its peak, the Sasanian Empire stretched from western Anatolia to northwest India today Pakistan , but its influence was felt far beyond these political boundaries.

Islamic art however, was the true heir to Sasanian art, whose concepts it was to assimilate while at the same time instilling fresh life and renewed vigor into it.

Probably its influence helped to change the emphasis in Greek art from classic representation to Byzantine ornament, and in Latin Christian art from wooden ceilings to brick or stone vaults and domes and buttressed walls.

Sasanian carvings at Taq-e Bostan and Naqsh-e Rustam were colored; so were many features of the palaces; but only traces of such painting remain.

The literature, however, makes it clear that the art of painting flourished in Sasanian times; the prophet Mani is reported to have founded a school of painting; Firdowsi speaks of Persian magnates adorning their mansions with pictures of Iranian heroes; and the poet al-Buhturi describes the murals in the palace at Ctesiphon.

When a Sasanian king died, the best painter of the time was called upon to make a portrait of him for a collection kept in the royal treasury.

Painting, sculpture , pottery , and other forms of decoration shared their designs with Sasanian textile art.

Silks, embroideries, brocades , damasks , tapestries , chair covers, canopies, tents and rugs were woven with patience and masterly skill, and were dyed in warm tints of yellow, blue and green.

Every Persian but the peasant and the priest aspired to dress above his class; presents often took the form of sumptuous garments; and great colorful carpets had been an appendage of wealth in the East since Assyrian days.

The two dozen Sasanian textiles that have survived are among the most highly valued fabrics in existence.

Even in their own day, Sasanian textiles were admired and imitated from Egypt to the Far East; and during the Middle Ages , they were favored for clothing the relics of Christian saints.

When Heraclius captured the palace of Khosrau II Parvez at Dastagerd , delicate embroideries and an immense rug were among his most precious spoils.

Harun al-Rashid prided himself on a spacious Sasanian rug thickly studded with jewelry. Persians wrote love poems about their rugs.

Studies on Sasanian remains show over types of crowns being worn by Sasanian kings. The various Sasanian crowns demonstrate the cultural, economic, social and historical situation in each period.

The crowns also show the character traits of each king in this era. Different symbols and signs on the crowns—the moon, stars, eagle and palm, each illustrate the wearer's religious faith and beliefs.

The Sasanian Dynasty, like the Achaemenid, originated in the province of Pars. The Sasanians saw themselves as successors of the Achaemenids, after the Hellenistic and Parthian interlude, and believed that it was their destiny to restore the greatness of Persia.

In reviving the glories of the Achaemenid past, the Sasanians were no mere imitators. The art of this period reveals an astonishing virility, in certain respects anticipating key features of Islamic art.

Sasanian art combined elements of traditional Persian art with Hellenistic elements and influences. Though the East accepted the outward form of this art, it never really assimilated its spirit.

Already in the Parthian period, Hellenistic art was being interpreted freely by the peoples of the Near East. Throughout the Sasanian period, there was reaction against it.

Sasanian art revived forms and traditions native to Persia, and in the Islamic period, these reached the shores of the Mediterranean.

With the accession of the [Sasanians], Persia regained much of that power and stability to which she had been so long a stranger The improvement in the fine arts at home indicates returning prosperity, and a degree of security unknown since the fall of the Achaemenidae.

Surviving palaces illustrate the splendor in which the Sasanian monarchs lived. Examples include palaces at Firuzabad and Bishapur in Fars , and the capital city of Ctesiphon in the Asoristan province present-day Iraq.

In addition to local traditions, Parthian architecture influenced Sasanian architectural characteristics. All are characterized by the barrel-vaulted iwans introduced in the Parthian period.

During the Sasanian period, these reached massive proportions, particularly at Ctesiphon. This magnificent structure fascinated architects in the centuries that followed and has been considered one of the most important examples of Persian architecture.

Many of the palaces contain an inner audience hall consisting, as at Firuzabad, of a chamber surmounted by a dome. The Persians solved the problem of constructing a circular dome on a square building by employing squinches , or arches built across each corner of the square, thereby converting it into an octagon on which it is simple to place the dome.

The dome chamber in the palace of Firuzabad is the earliest surviving example of the use of the squinch, suggesting that this architectural technique was probably invented in Persia.

The unique characteristic of Sasanian architecture was its distinctive use of space. The Sasanian architect conceived his building in terms of masses and surfaces; hence the use of massive walls of brick decorated with molded or carved stucco.

Stucco wall decorations appear at Bishapur, but better examples are preserved from Chal Tarkhan near Rey late Sasanian or early Islamic in date , and from Ctesiphon and Kish in Mesopotamia.

The panels show animal figures set in roundels, human busts, and geometric and floral motifs. At Bishapur, some of the floors were decorated with mosaics showing scenes of banqueting.

The Roman influence here is clear, and the mosaics may have been laid by Roman prisoners. Buildings were decorated with wall paintings.

Particularly fine examples have been found on Mount Khajeh in Sistan. Due to the majority of the inhabitants being of peasant stock, the Sasanian economy relied on farming and agriculture, Khuzestan and Iraq being the most important provinces for it.

The Nahravan Canal is one of the greatest examples of Sasanian irrigation systems, and many of these things can still be found in Iran.

The mountains of the Sasanian state were used for lumbering by the nomads of the region, and the centralized nature of the Sasanian state allowed it to impose taxes on the nomads and inhabitants of the mountains.

During the reign of Khosrau I, further land was brought under centralized administration. Two trade routes were used during the Sasanian period: one in the north, the famous Silk Route , and one less prominent route on the southern Sasanian coast.

The factories of Susa , Gundeshapur , and Shushtar were famously known for their production of silk, and rivaled the Chinese factories.

The Sasanians showed great toleration to the inhabitants of the countryside, which allowed the latter to stockpile in case of famine.

Persian industry under the Sasanians developed from domestic to urban forms. Guilds were numerous. Good roads and bridges, well patrolled, enabled state post and merchant caravans to link Ctesiphon with all provinces; and harbors were built in the Persian Gulf to quicken trade with India.

Khosrau I further extended the already vast trade network. The Sasanian state now tended toward monopolistic control of trade, with luxury goods assuming a far greater role in the trade than heretofore, and the great activity in building of ports, caravanserais, bridges and the like, was linked to trade and urbanization.

The Persians dominated international trade, both in the Indian Ocean , Central Asia and South Russia, in the time of Khosrau, although competition with the Byzantines was at times intense.

Sassanian settlements in Oman and Yemen testify to the importance of trade with India, but the silk trade with China was mainly in the hands of Sasanian vassals and the Iranian people, the Sogdians.

The main exports of the Sasanians were silk; woolen and golden textiles; carpets and rugs; hides; and leather and pearls from the Persian Gulf.

There were also goods in transit from China paper, silk and India spices , which Sasanian customs imposed taxes upon, and which were re-exported from the Empire to Europe.

It was also a time of increased metallurgical production, so Iran earned a reputation as the "armory of Asia".

Most of the Sasanian mining centers were at the fringes of the Empire — in Armenia, the Caucasus and above all, Transoxania.

The extraordinary mineral wealth of the Pamir Mountains on the eastern horizon of the Sasanian empire led to a legend among the Tajiks , an Iranian people living there, which is still told today.

It said that when God was creating the world, he tripped over the Pamirs, dropping his jar of minerals, which spread across the region.

Under Parthian rule , Zoroastrianism had fragmented into regional variations which also saw the rise of local cult-deities, some from Iranian religious tradition but others drawn from Greek tradition too.

Greek paganism and religious ideas had spread and mixed with Zoroastrianism when Alexander the Great had conquered the Persian Empire from Darius III —a process of Greco-Persian religious and cultural synthesisation which had continued into the Parthian era.

However, under the Sassanids, an orthodox Zoroastrianism was revived and the religion would undergo numerous and important developments.

Sassanid Zoroastrianism would develop to have clear distinctions from the practices laid out in the Avesta , the holy books of Zoroastrianism.

It is often argued [ who? The relationship between the Sassanid kings and the religions practiced in their empire became complex and varied.

For instance, while Shapur I tolerated and encouraged a variety of religions and seems to have been a Zurvanite himself, religious minorities at times were suppressed under later kings, such as Bahram II.

Shapur II, on the other hand, tolerated religious groups except Christians, whom he only persecuted in the wake of Constantine's conversion. From the very beginning of Sassanid rule in an orthodox Pars -oriented Zoroastrian tradition would play an important part in influencing and lending legitimization to the state until its collapse in the mid-7th century.

After Ardashir I had deposed the last Parthian King, Artabanus V , he sought the aid of Tansar , a herbad high priest of the Iranian Zoroastrians to aid him in acquiring legitimization for the new dynasty.

This Tansar did by writing to the nominal and vassal kings in different regions of Iran to accept Ardashir I as their new King, most notably in the Letter of Tansar , which was addressed to Gushnasp , the vassal king of Tabarestan.

Gushnasp had accused Ardashir I of having forsaken tradition by usurping the throne, and that while his actions "may have been good for the World" they were "bad for the faith".

Tansar refuted these charges in his letter to Gushnasp by proclaiming that not all of the old ways had been good, and that Ardashir was more virtuous than his predecessors.

The Letter of Tansar included some attacks on the religious practices and orientation of the Parthians, who did not follow an orthodox Zoroastrian tradition but rather a heterodox one, and so attempted to justify Ardashir's rebellion against them by arguing that Zoroastrianism had 'decayed' after Alexander's invasion, a decay which had continued under the Parthians and so needed to be 'restored'.

Tansar would later help to oversee the formation of a single 'Zoroastrian church' under the control of the Persian magi , alongside the establishment of a single set of Avestan texts, which he himself approved and authorised.

Kartir , a very powerful and influential Persian cleric, served under several Sassanid Kings and actively campaigned for the establishment of a Pars -centred Zoroastrian orthodoxy across the Sassanid Empire.

His power and influence grew so much that he became the only 'commoner' to later be allowed to have his own rock inscriptions carved in the royal fashion at Sar Mashhad , Naqsh-e Rostam , Ka'ba-ye Zartosht and Naqsh-e Rajab.

Under Shapur I , Kartir was made the 'absolute authority' over the 'order of priests' at the Sassanid court and throughout the empire's regions too, with the implication that all regional Zoroastrian clergies would now for the first time be subordinated to the Persian Zoroastrian clerics of Pars.

In expressing his doctrinal orthodoxy, Kartir also encouraged an obscure Zoroastrian concept known as khvedodah among the common-folk marriage within the family; between siblings, cousins.

At various stages during his long career at court, Kartir also oversaw the periodic persecution of the non-Zoroastrians in Iran, and secured the execution of the prophet Mani during the reign of Bahram I.

During the reign of Hormizd I the predecessor and brother of Bahram I Kartir was awarded the new Zoroastrian title of mobad — a clerical title that was to be considered higher than that of the eastern-Iranian Parthian title of herbad.

The Persians had long known of the Egyptian calendar, with its days divided into 12 months. However, the traditional Zoroastrian calendar had 12 months of 30 days each.

During the reign of Ardashir I , an effort was made to introduce a more accurate Zoroastrian calendar for the year, so 5 extra days were added to it.

These 5 extra days were named the Gatha days and had a practical as well as religious use. However, they were still kept apart from the 'religious year', so as not to disturb the long-held observances of the older Zoroastrian calendar.

Some difficulties arose with the introduction of the first calendar reform, particularly the pushing forward of important Zoroastrian festivals such as Hamaspat-maedaya and Nowruz on the calendar year by year.

This confusion apparently caused much distress among ordinary people, and while the Sassanids tried to enforce the observance of these great celebrations on the new official dates, much of the populace continued to observe them on the older, traditional dates, and so parallel celebrations for Nowruz and other Zoroastrian celebrations would often occur within days of each other, in defiance of the new official calendar dates, causing much confusion and friction between the laity and the ruling class.

This was done for all except Nowruz. A further problem occurred as Nowruz had shifted in position during this period from the spring equinox to autumn , although this inconsistency with the original spring-equinox date for Nowruz had possibly occurred during the Parthian period too.

Further calendar reforms occurred during the later Sassanid era. Ever since the reforms under Ardashir I there had been no intercalation.

Thus with a quarter-day being lost each year, the Zoroastrian holy year had slowly slipped backwards, with Nowruz eventually ending up in July.

A great council was therefore convened and it was decided that Nowruz be moved back to the original position it had during the Achaemenid period — back to spring.

This change probably took place during the reign of Kavad I in the early 6th century. Much emphasis seems to have been placed during this period on the importance of spring and on its connection with the resurrection and Frashegerd.

Reflecting the regional rivalry and bias the Sassanids are believed to have held against their Parthian predecessors, it was probably during the Sassanid era that the two great fires in Pars and Media —the Adur Farnbag and Adur Gushnasp respectively—were promoted to rival, and even eclipse, the sacred fire in Parthia , the Adur Burzen-Mehr.

The Adur Burzen-Mehr, linked in legend with Zoroaster and Vishtaspa the first Zoroastrian King , was too holy for the Persian magi to end veneration of it completely.

It was therefore during the Sassanid era that the three Great Fires of the Zoroastrian world were given specific associations. The Adur Gushnasp eventually became, by custom, a place of pilgrimage by foot for newly enthroned Kings after their coronation.

It is likely that, during the Sassanid era, these three Great Fires became central places for pilgrimage among Zoroastrians.

The early Sassanids ruled against the use of cult images in worship, and so statues and idols were removed from many temples and, where possible, sacred fires were installed instead.

This policy extended even to the 'non-Iran' regions of the empire during some periods. Hormizd I allegedly destroyed statues erected for the dead in Armenia.

However, only cult-statues were removed. The Sassanids continued to use images to represent the deities of Zoroastrianism, including that of Ahura Mazda , in the tradition that was established during the Seleucid era.

In the early Sassanid period royal inscriptions often consisted of Parthian , Middle Persian and Greek. However, the last time Parthian was used for a royal inscription came during the reign of Narseh , son of Shapur I.

It is likely therefore that soon after this, the Sassanids made the decision to impose Persian as the sole official language within Iran, and forbade the use of written Parthian.

This had important consequences for Zoroastrianism, given that all secondary literature, including the Zand , was then recorded only in Middle Persian , having a profound impact in orienting Zoroastrianism towards the influence of the Pars region, the homeland of the Sassanids.

Some scholars of Zoroastrianism such as Mary Boyce have speculated that it is possible that the yasna service was lengthened during the Sassanid era "to increase its impressiveness".

Furthermore, it is believed that another longer service developed, known as the Visperad , which derived from the extended yasna.

This was developed for the celebration of the seven holy days of obligation the Gahambars plus Nowruz and was dedicated to Ahura Mazda. While the very earliest Zoroastrians eschewed writing as a form of demonic practice, the Middle Persian Zand , along with much secondary Zoroastrian literature, was recorded in writing during the Sassanid era for the first time.

Many of these Zoroastrian texts were original works from the Sassanid period. Perhaps the most important of these works was the Bundahishn — the mythical Zoroastrian story of Creation.

Other older works, some from remote antiquity, were possibly translated from different Iranian languages into Middle Persian during this period.

The alphabet was based on the Pahlavi one, but rather than the inadequacy of that script for recording spoken Middle Persian, the Avestan alphabet had 46 letters, and was well suited to recording Avestan in written form in the way the language actually sounded and was uttered.

The Persian magi were therefore finally able to record all surviving ancient Avestan texts in written form. As a result of this development, the Sasanian Avesta was then compiled into 21 nasks divisions to correspond with the 21 words of the Ahunavar invocation.

The nasks were further divided into three groups of seven. The first group contained the Gathas and all texts associated with them, while the second group contained works of scholastic learning.

The final section contained treatises of instruction for the magi, such as the Vendidad , law-texts and other works, such as yashts.

This text is the basis of the later Shahnameh of Ferdowsi. Although these churches originally maintained ties with Christian churches in the Roman Empire, they were indeed quite different from them.

One reason for this was that the liturgical language of the Nestorian and Jacobite Churches was Syriac rather than Greek, the language of Roman Christianity during the early centuries and the language of Eastern Roman Christianity in later centuries.

Another reason for a separation between Eastern and Western Christianity was strong pressure from the Sasanian authorities to sever connections with Rome, since the Sasanian Empire was often at war with the Roman Empire.

Christianity was recognized by Yazdegerd I in as an allowable faith within the Sasanian Empire. The major break with mainstream Christianity came in , due to the pronouncements of the First Council of Ephesus.

While the teaching of the Council of Ephesus was accepted within the Roman Empire, the Sasanian church disagreed with the condemnation of Nestorius' teachings.

When Nestorius was deposed as patriarch, a number of his followers fled to the Sasanian Empire. Persian emperors used this opportunity to strengthen Nestorius' position within the Sasanian church which made up the vast majority of the Christians in the predominantly Zoroastrian Persian Empire by eliminating the most important pro-Roman clergymen in Persia and making sure that their places were taken by Nestorians.

This was to assure that these Christians would be loyal to the Persian Empire, and not to the Roman.

Most of the Christians in the Sasanian empire lived on the western edge of the empire, predominantly in Mesopotamia, but there were also important extant communities in the more northern territories, namely Caucasian Albania , Lazica, Iberia , and the Persian part of Armenia.

Other important communities were to be found on the island of Tylos present day Bahrain , the southern coast of the Persian Gulf, and the area of the Arabian kingdom of Lakhm.

Some of these areas were the earliest to be Christianized; the kingdom of Armenia became the first independent Christian state in the world in While a number of Assyrian territories had almost become fully Christianized even earlier during the 3rd century, they never became independent nations.

Some of the recent excavations have discovered the Buddhist , Hindu and Jewish religious sites in the empire. A very large Jewish community flourished under Sasanian rule, with thriving centers at Isfahan , Babylon and Khorasan , and with its own semiautonomous Exilarchate leadership based in Mesopotamia.

Jewish communities suffered only occasional persecution. They enjoyed a relative freedom of religion, and were granted privileges denied to other religious minorities.

His friendship with Shmuel produced many advantages for the Jewish community. Raba's friendship with Shapur II enabled him to secure a relaxation of the oppressive laws enacted against the Jews in the Persian Empire.

Moreover, in the eastern portion of the empire, various Buddhist places of worship, notably in Bamiyan , were active as Buddhism gradually became more popular in that region.

During the early Sasanian period, Middle Persian along with Greek and Parthian appeared in the inscriptions of the early Sasanian kings. However, by the time Narseh r.

Sometimes one of the members of the clans would even protest against Sasanian rule. Aramaic , like in the Achaemenid Empire , was widely used in the Sasanian Empire, and provided scripts for Middle Persian and other languages.

Although Middle Persian was the native language of the Sasanians who, however, were not originally from Pars , it was only a minority spoken-language in the vast Sasanian Empire; it only formed the majority of Pars, while it was widespread around Media and its surrounding regions.

However, there were several different Persian dialects during that time. Daylamite and Gilaki was spoken in Gilan , while Mazandarani also known as Tabari was spoken in Tabaristan.

Furthermore, many other languages and dialects were spoken in the two regions. In the Sasanian territories in the Caucasus, numerous languages were spoken including Georgian , various Kartvelian languages notably in Lazica , Middle Persian, [] Armenian , Caucasian Albanian , Scythian , Greek , and others.

In Khuzestan, several languages were spoken; Persian in the north and east, while Aramaic was spoken in the rest of the place.

Iranians had also begun to settle in the province, along with the Zutt , who had been deported from India. Other Indian groups such as the Malays may also have been deported to Meshan, either as captives or recruited sailors.

Due to invasions from the Scythians and their sub-group, the Alans , into Azerbaijan, Armenia, and other places in the Caucasus, the places gained a larger, although small, Iranian population.

To the further south in Sistan , which saw an influx of Scythians during the Parthian period, Sistani was spoken.

Furthermore, Slavic and Germanic were also spoken in the Sasanian Empire, once again due to the capture of Roman soldiers.

The influence of the Sasanian Empire continued long after it fell. The empire, through the guidance of several able emperors prior to its fall, had achieved a Persian renaissance that would become a driving force behind the civilization of the newly established religion of Islam.

Sasanian culture and military structure had a significant influence on Roman civilization. The structure and character of the Roman army was affected by the methods of Persian warfare.

In a modified form, the Roman Imperial autocracy imitated the royal ceremonies of the Sasanian court at Ctesiphon, and those in turn had an influence on the ceremonial traditions of the courts of medieval and modern Europe.

The origin of the formalities of European diplomacy is attributed to the diplomatic relations between the Persian governments and the Roman Empire.

Important developments in Jewish history are associated with the Sassanian Empire. The Babylonian Talmud was composed between the third and sixth centuries in Sasanian Persia [] and major Jewish academies of learning were established in Sura and Pumbedita that became cornerstones of Jewish scholarship.

The collapse of the Sasanian Empire led to Islam slowly replacing Zoroastrianism as the primary religion of Iran.

A large number of Zoroastrians chose to emigrate to escape Islamic persecution. According to the Qissa-i Sanjan , one group of those refugees landed in what is now Gujarat , India, where they were allowed greater freedom to observe their old customs and to preserve their faith.

The descendants of those Zoroastrians would play a small but significant role in the development of India. Today there are over 70, Zoroastrians in India.

The Zoroastrians still use a variant of the religious calendar instituted under the Sasanians. That calendar still marks the number of years since the accession of Yazdegerd III, just as it did in See also: Zoroastrian calendar.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Last Persian imperial dynasty before the arrival of Islam. The Sasanian Empire at its greatest extent c.

Greatest temporary extent during Byzantine—Sasanian War of — Part of a series on the. Mythological history. Pishdadian dynasty Kayanian dynasty.

Ancient period. Imperial period. Medieval period. Early modern period. Modern period. Related articles. See also: Timeline of the Sasanian Empire.

Main article: Military of the Sasanian Empire. Main article: Abyssinian—Persian wars. Main article: Iran-China relations. Main article: Indo-Sasanians.

See also: Academy of Gondishapur. Main article: Sasanian economy. Main article: Zoroastrianism. Main articles: Church of the East and Maphrianate of the East.

See also: Zoroastrianism in India. Iran portal. Retrieved 16 December Jamie Stokes, Infobase Publishing, , Tauris, Journal of World-Systems Research.

Retrieved 11 September Social Science History. A Brief History of Iraq. Infobase Publishing. Culture of Iran.

Archived from the original on 21 November Ashgate Pub Co, 30 Sep. Retrieved 9 November Artaxerxes Ardaxsir V. Circa — AD. AR Drachm 3. Dodgeon; Samuel N.

Lieu Buddhist Manuscripts Vol. Hermes Pub. Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society : 24— Retrieved 8 July Archived from the original on 15 July Retrieved 17 September So spirited was the Armenian defense, however, that the Persians suffered enormous losses as well.

Their victory was pyrrhic and the king, faced with troubles elsewhere, was forced, at least for the time being, to allow the Armenians to worship as they chose.

Faith in History: Armenians Rebuilding Community. Smithsonian Institution Press. The Armenian defeat in the Battle of Avarayr in proved a pyrrhic victory for the Persians.

Though the Armenians lost their commander, Vartan Mamikonian, and most of their soldiers, Persian losses were proportionately heavy, and Armenia was allowed to remain Christian.

Archived from the original on 6 February Tritton, pg. Encyclopaedia Iranica. New York NY: I. Sassanian elite cavalry AD — Osprey Publishing.

Shadows in the desert: ancient Persia at war. Why Europe? University of Chicago Press. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chapter Retrieved 10 December Retrieved 21 June Beck'sche Verlagbuchhandlung, , Frye, p. University Press of America.

The Origins of Higher Learning: Knowledge networks and the early development of universities. Khazaria in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries. Retrieved 30 June Retrieved 25 September Numen, Vol.

Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices , 2nd edition. Vasiliev, History of the Byzantine Empire, — , Vol.

I, University of Wisconsin Press, , 96— Columbia University Press. Litvinsky Cultural Identity in the Ancient Mediterranean.

Payvand's Iran News.. Retrieved 3 September Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Mainz, Germany. Baynes, Norman H. Bemerkungen aus althistorischer Sicht. Börm, Henning Düsseldorf: Wellem, pp.

The Sasanians and the Roman Empire ". Duisburg: Wellem, pp. Daniel, Elton L. In Daryaee, Touraj ed. In Nicholson, Oliver ed.

The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Frye; J. In: Henning Börm - Josef Wiesehöfer eds. London and New York: I.

In: Chase Robinson ed. Cambridge , pp. In Chisholm, Hugh ed. Cambridge University Press. Sasanian Empire.

Timeline of the Sasanian Empire. Links to related articles. Ancient Syria and Mesopotamia. Ancient Mesopotamia. Provinces of the Sasanian Empire.

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Derafsh Kaviani State flag Simurgh imperial emblem. Istakhr — [3] Ctesiphon — Middle Persian official [4] [5] Other languages.

Feudal monarchy [6]. Preceded by. Parthian Empire. Kingdom of Iberia antiquity. Kushan Empire. Kingdom of Armenia antiquity.

Kings of Persis. Rashidun Caliphate.

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The Sassanids established an empire roughly within the frontiers achieved by the Parthian Arsacids, with the capital at Ctesiphon in the Asoristan province.

In administering this empire, Sassanid rulers took the title of shahanshah King of Kings , becoming the central overlords and also assumed guardianship of the sacred fire , the symbol of the national religion.

This symbol is explicit on Sassanid coins where the reigning monarch, with his crown and regalia of office, appears on the obverse, backed by the sacred fire, the symbol of the national religion, on the coin's reverse.

On a smaller scale, the territory might also be ruled by a number of petty rulers from a noble family, known as shahrdar , overseen directly by the shahanshah.

The districts of the provinces were ruled by a shahrab and a mowbed chief priest. The mowbed's job was to deal with estates and other things relating to legal matters.

Within this bureaucracy the Zoroastrian priesthood was immensely powerful. The head of the Magi priestly class, the mowbedan mowbed , along with the commander-in-chief, the spahbed , the head of traders and merchants syndicate Ho Tokhshan Bod and minister of agriculture wastaryoshan-salar , who was also head of farmers, were, below the emperor, the most powerful men of the Sassanid state.

The Sassanian rulers always considered the advice of their ministers. A Muslim historian, Masudi , praised the "excellent administration of the Sasanian kings, their well-ordered policy, their care for their subjects, and the prosperity of their domains".

In normal times, the monarchical office was hereditary, but might be transferred by the king to a younger son; in two instances the supreme power was held by queens.

When no direct heir was available, the nobles and prelates chose a ruler, but their choice was restricted to members of the royal family.

The Sasanian nobility was a mixture of old Parthian clans, Persian aristocratic families, and noble families from subjected territories.

Many new noble families had risen after the dissolution of the Parthian dynasty, while several of the once-dominant Seven Parthian clans remained of high importance.

At the court of Ardashir I, the old Arsacid families of the House of Karen and the House of Suren , along with several other families, the Varazes and Andigans, held positions of great honor.

Alongside these Iranian and non-Iranian noble families, the kings of Merv , Abarshahr , Kirman , Sakastan, Iberia , and Adiabene , who are mentioned as holding positions of honor amongst the nobles, appeared at the court of the shahanshah.

Indeed, the extensive domains of the Surens, Karens and Varazes, had become part of the original Sassanid state as semi-independent states.

Thus, the noble families that attended at the court of the Sassanid empire continued to be ruling lines in their own right, although subordinate to the shahanshah.

In general, Wuzurgan from Iranian families held the most powerful positions in the imperial administration, including governorships of border provinces marzban.

Most of these positions were patrimonial, and many were passed down through a single family for generations.

The marzbans of greatest seniority were permitted a silver throne, while marzbans of the most strategic border provinces, such as the Caucasus province, were allowed a golden throne.

Culturally, the Sassanids implemented a system of social stratification. This system was supported by Zoroastrianism, which was established as the state religion.

Other religions appear to have been largely tolerated, although this claim has been debated. The active army of the Sassanid Empire originated from Ardashir I , the first shahanshah of the empire.

Ardashir restored the Achaemenid military organizations, retained the Parthian cavalry model, and employed new types of armour and siege warfare techniques.

Without this relationship, the Sassanid Empire would not have survived in its beginning stages. Because of this relationship between the warriors and the priests, religion and state were considered inseparable in the Zoroastrian religion.

However, it is this same relationship that caused the weakening of the Empire, when each group tried to impose their power onto the other.

Disagreements between the priests and the warriors led to fragmentation within the empire, which led to its downfall.

The Paygan formed the bulk of the Sassanid infantry, and were often recruited from the peasant population. Each unit was headed by an officer called a " Paygan-salar ", which meant "commander of the infantry" and their main task was to guard the baggage train, serve as pages to the Asvaran a higher rank , storm fortification walls, undertake entrenchment projects, and excavate mines.

Those serving in the infantry were fitted with shields and lances. To make the size of their army larger, the Sassanids added soldiers provided by the Medes and the Dailamites to their own.

The Medes provided the Sassanid army with high-quality javelin throwers, slingers and heavy infantry. Iranian infantry are described by Ammianus Marcellinus as "armed like gladiators" and "obey orders like so many horse-boys".

They are reported as having fought with weapons such as daggers, swords and javelins and reputed to have been recognized by Romans for their skills and hardiness in close-quarter combat.

One account of Dailamites recounted their participation in an invasion of Yemen where of them were led by the Dailamite officer Vahriz. The Sasanian navy was an important constituent of the Sasanian military from the time that Ardashir I conquered the Arab side of the Persian Gulf.

Because controlling the Persian Gulf was an economic necessity, the Sasanian navy worked to keep it safe from piracy, prevent Roman encroachment, and keep the Arab tribes from getting hostile.

However, it is believed by many historians that the naval force could not have been a strong one, as the men serving in the navy were those who were confined in prisons.

The cavalry used during the Sassanid Empire were two types of heavy cavalry units: Clibanarii and Cataphracts. The first cavalry force, composed of elite noblemen trained since youth for military service, was supported by light cavalry, infantry and archers.

The second cavalry involved the use of the war elephants. In fact, it was their specialty to deploy elephants as cavalry support.

Unlike the Parthians, the Sassanids developed advanced siege engines. The development of siege weapons was a useful weapon during conflicts with Rome, in which success hinged upon the ability to seize cities and other fortified points; conversely, the Sassanids also developed a number of techniques for defending their own cities from attack.

The Sassanid army was much like the preceding Parthian army, although some of the Sassanid's heavy cavalry were equipped with lances, while Parthian armies were heavily equipped with bows.

All the companies were clad in iron, and all parts of their bodies were covered with thick plates, so fitted that the stiff-joints conformed with those of their limbs; and the forms of human faces were so skillfully fitted to their heads, that since their entire body was covered with metal, arrows that fell upon them could lodge only where they could see a little through tiny openings opposite the pupil of the eye, or where through the tip of their nose they were able to get a little breath.

Of these, some who were armed with pikes, stood so motionless that you would have thought them held fast by clamps of bronze. Horsemen in the Sassanid cavalry lacked a stirrup.

Instead, they used a war saddle which had a cantle at the back and two guard clamps which curved across the top of the rider's thighs.

This allowed the horsemen to stay in the saddle at all times during the battle, especially during violent encounters. The Byzantine emperor Maurikios also emphasizes in his Strategikon that many of the Sassanid heavy cavalry did not carry spears, relying on their bows as their primary weapons.

However the Taq-i Bustan reliefs and Al-Tabari's famed list of equipment required for dihqan knights which included the lance, provide a contrast.

What is certain is that the horseman's paraphernalia was extensive. The amount of money involved in maintaining a warrior of the Asawaran Azatan knightly caste required a small estate, and the Asawaran Azatan knightly caste received that from the throne, and in return, were the throne's most notable defenders in time of war.

The Sassanids, like the Parthians, were in constant hostilities with the Roman Empire. The Sassanids, who succeeded the Parthians, were recognized as one of the leading world powers alongside its neighboring rival the Byzantine Empire, or Eastern Roman Empire, for a period of more than years.

Hostilities between the two empires became more frequent. Although the threat of nomadic incursions could never be fully resolved, the Sassanids generally dealt much more successfully with these matters than did the Romans, due to their policy of making coordinated campaigns against threatening nomads.

The last of the many and frequent wars with the Byzantines, the climactic Byzantine—Sasanian War of — , which included the siege of the Byzantine capital Constantinople , ended with both rivalling sides having drastically exhausted their human and material resources.

Furthermore, social conflict within the Empire had considerably weakened it further. Over the following centuries, half the Byzantine Empire and the entire Sasanian Empire came under Muslim rule.

In general, over the span of the centuries, in the west, Sassanid territory abutted that of the large and stable Roman state, but to the east, its nearest neighbors were the Kushan Empire and nomadic tribes such as the White Huns.

The construction of fortifications such as Tus citadel or the city of Nishapur , which later became a center of learning and trade, also assisted in defending the eastern provinces from attack.

In south and central Arabia, Bedouin Arab tribes occasionally raided the Sassanid empire. The Kingdom of Al-Hirah , a Sassanid vassal kingdom, was established to form a buffer zone between the empire's heartland and the Bedouin tribes.

These defeats resulted in a sudden takeover of the Sassanid empire by Bedouin tribes under the Islamic banner. In the north, Khazars and the Western Turkic Khaganate frequently assaulted the northern provinces of the empire.

They plundered Media in Shortly thereafter, the Persian army defeated them and drove them out. The Sassanids built numerous fortifications in the Caucasus region to halt these attacks, of which perhaps the most notably are the imposing fortifications built in Derbent Dagestan , North Caucasus , now a part of Russia that to a large extent, have remained intact up to this day.

In , before Khosrau's reign, a group of monophysite Axumites led an attack on the dominant Himyarites of southern Arabia. The local Arab leader was able to resist the attack but appealed to the Sassanians for aid, while the Axumites subsequently turned towards the Byzantines for help.

The Axumites sent another force across the Red Sea and this time successfully killed the Arab leader and replaced him with an Axumite man to be king of the region.

In , Justinian suggested that the Axumites of Yemen should cut out the Persians from Indian trade by maritime trade with the Indians. The Ethiopians never met this request because an Axumite general named Abraha took control of the Yemenite throne and created an independent nation.

After being denied by Justinian, Ma'd-Karib sought help from Khosrau, who sent a small fleet and army under commander Vahriz to depose the new king of Yemen.

After capturing the capital city San'a'l, Ma'd-Karib's son, Saif, was put on the throne. Justinian was ultimately responsible for Sassanian maritime presence in Yemen.

By not providing the Yemenite Arabs support, Khosrau was able to help Ma'd-Karib and subsequently established Yemen as a principality of the Sassanian Empire.

Like their predecessors the Parthians, the Sassanid Empire carried out active foreign relations with China, and ambassadors from Persia frequently traveled to China.

Chinese documents report on thirteen Sassanid embassies to China. Commercially, land and sea trade with China was important to both the Sassanid and Chinese Empires.

Large numbers of Sassanid coins have been found in southern China, confirming maritime trade. On different occasions, Sassanid kings sent their most talented Persian musicians and dancers to the Chinese imperial court at Luoyang during the Jin and Northern Wei dynasties, and to Chang'an during the Sui and Tang dynasties.

Both empires benefited from trade along the Silk Road and shared a common interest in preserving and protecting that trade.

They cooperated in guarding the trade routes through central Asia, and both built outposts in border areas to keep caravans safe from nomadic tribes and bandits.

Politically, there is evidence of several Sassanid and Chinese efforts in forging alliances against the common enemy, the Hephthalites.

Upon the rise of the nomadic Göktürks in Inner Asia, there is also what looks like a collaboration between China and the Sassanids to defuse Turkic advances.

Documents from Mt. Mogh talk about the presence of a Chinese general in the service of the king of Sogdiana at the time of the Arab invasions.

Both Peroz and his son Narsieh Chinese neh-shie were given high titles at the Chinese court. On at least two occasions, the last possibly in , Chinese troops were sent with Peroz in order to restore him to the Sassanid throne with mixed results, one possibly ending in a short rule of Peroz in Sakastan, from which we have some remaining numismatic evidence.

Narsieh later attained the position of a commander of the Chinese imperial guards, and his descendants lived in China as respected princes, Sassanian refugees fleeing from the Arab conquest to settle in China.

Following the conquest of Iran and neighboring regions, Shapur I extended his authority northwest of the Indian subcontinent.

The previously autonomous Kushans were obliged to accept his suzerainty. Although the Kushan empire declined at the end of the 3rd century, to be replaced by the Indian Gupta Empire in the 4th century, it is clear that the Sassanids remained relevant in India's northwest throughout this period.

Persia and northwestern India, the latter that made up formerly part of the Kushans, engaged in cultural as well as political intercourse during this period, as certain Sassanid practices spread into the Kushan territories.

In particular, the Kushans were influenced by the Sassanid conception of kingship, which spread through the trade of Sassanid silverware and textiles depicting emperors hunting or dispensing justice.

This cultural interchange did not, however, spread Sassanid religious practices or attitudes to the Kushans. Lower-level cultural interchanges also took place between India and Persia during this period.

For example, Persians imported the early form of chess , the chaturanga Middle Persian: chatrang from India. Some of these later found their way into the literature of the Islamic world and Arabic literature.

A notable example of this was the translation of the Indian Panchatantra by one of Khosrau's ministers, Borzuya. In Indian books, Borzuya read that on a mountain in that land there grows a plant which when sprinkled over the dead revives them.

Borzuya asked Khosrau I for permission to travel to India to obtain the plant. After a fruitless search, he was led to an ascetic who revealed the secret of the plant to him: The "plant" was word, the "mountain" learning, and the "dead" the ignorant.

He told Borzuya of a book, the remedy of ignorance, called the Kalila , which was kept in a treasure chamber. The king of India gave Borzuya permission to read the Kalila, provided that he did not make a copy of it.

Borzuya accepted the condition but each day memorized a chapter of the book. When he returned to his room he would record what he had memorized that day, thus creating a copy of the book, which he sent to Iran.

In Iran, Bozorgmehr translated the book into Pahlavi and, at Borzuya's request, named the first chapter after him. In contrast to Parthian society, the Sassanids renewed emphasis on a charismatic and centralized government.

In Sassanid theory, the ideal society could maintain stability and justice, and the necessary instrument for this was a strong monarch.

During the late Sasanian period, Mesopotamia had the largest population density in the medieval world.

During the Sasanian period, many cities with the name "Iran-khwarrah" were established. This was because Sasanians wanted to revive Avesta ideology.

Many of these cities, both new and old, were populated not only by native ethnic groups, such as the Iranians or Syriacs, but also by the deported Roman prisoners of war, such as Goths , Slavs , Latins , and others.

This allowed the Sasanians to become familiar with Roman technology. The impact these foreigners made on the economy was significant, as many of them were Christians, and the spread of the religion accelerated throughout the empire.

It is known that they were called "Kurds" by the Sasanians, and that they regularly served the Sasanian military, particularly the Dailamite and Gilani nomads.

This way of handling the nomads continued into the Islamic period, where the service of the Dailamites and Gilanis continued unabated.

The head of the Sasanian Empire was the shahanshah king of kings , also simply known as the shah king.

His health and welfare was of high importance—accordingly, the phrase "May you be immortal" was used to reply to him.

The Sasanian coins which appeared from the 6th-century and afterwards depict a moon and sun, which, in the words of the Iranian historian Touraj Daryaee , "suggest that the king was at the center of the world and the sun and moon revolved around him.

In effect he was the "king of the four corners of the world", which was an old Mesopotamian idea. The king wore colorful clothes, makeup, a heavy crown, while his beard was decorated with gold.

The early Sasanian kings considered themselves of divine descent; they called themselves "bay" divine. When the king went out in public, he was hidden behind a curtain, [] and had some of his men in front of him, whose duty was to keep the masses away from him and to clear the way.

The king's guards were known as the pushtigban. On other occasions, the king was protected by a discrete group of palace guards, known as the darigan.

Both of these groups were enlisted from royal families of the Sasanian Empire, [] and were under the command of the hazarbed , who was in charge of the king's safety, controlled the entrance of the kings palace, presented visitors to the king, and was allowed military commands or used as a negotiator.

The hazarbed was also allowed in some cases to serve as the royal executioner. Sassanid society was immensely complex, with separate systems of social organization governing numerous different groups within the empire.

At the center of the Sasanian caste system the shahanshah ruled over all the nobles. This social system appears to have been fairly rigid.

The Sasanian caste system outlived the empire, continuing in the early Islamic period. In general, mass slavery was never practiced by the Iranians, and in many cases the situation and lives of semi-slaves prisoners of war were, in fact, better than those of the commoner.

The most common slaves in the Sasanian Empire were the household servants, who worked in private estates and at the fire-temples.

Usage of a woman slave in a home was common, and her master had outright control over her and could even produce children with her if he wanted to.

Slaves also received wages and were able to have their own families whether they were female or male. The master of a slave was allowed to free the person when he wanted to, which, no matter what faith the slave believed in, was considered a good deed.

There was a major school, called the Grand School, in the capital. In the beginning, only 50 students were allowed to study at the Grand School.

In less than years, enrollment at the Grand School was over 30, students. On a lower level, Sasanian society was divided into Azatan freemen , who jealously guarded their status as descendants of ancient Aryan conquerors, and the mass of originally non-Aryan peasantry.

The Azatan formed a large low-aristocracy of low-level administrators, mostly living on small estates. The Azatan provided the cavalry backbone of the Sasanian army.

The Sasanian kings were patrons of letters and philosophy. Khosrau I had the works of Plato and Aristotle , translated into Pahlavi, taught at Gundishapur, and read them himself.

During his reign, many historical annals were compiled, of which the sole survivor is the Karnamak-i Artaxshir-i Papakan Deeds of Ardashir , a mixture of history and romance that served as the basis of the Iranian national epic, the Shahnameh.

When Justinian I closed the schools of Athens , seven of their professors went to Persia and found refuge at Khosrau's court. In his treaty of with Justinian, the Sasanian king stipulated that the Greek sages should be allowed to return and be free from persecution.

Under Khosrau I, the Academy of Gundishapur , which had been founded in the 5th century, became "the greatest intellectual center of the time", drawing students and teachers from every quarter of the known world.

Nestorian Christians were received there, and brought Syriac translations of Greek works in medicine and philosophy. The medical lore of India, Persia, Syria and Greece mingled there to produce a flourishing school of therapy.

Artistically, the Sasanian period witnessed some of the highest achievements of Iranian civilization. Much of what later became known as Muslim culture, including architecture and writing, was originally drawn from Persian culture.

At its peak, the Sasanian Empire stretched from western Anatolia to northwest India today Pakistan , but its influence was felt far beyond these political boundaries.

Islamic art however, was the true heir to Sasanian art, whose concepts it was to assimilate while at the same time instilling fresh life and renewed vigor into it.

Probably its influence helped to change the emphasis in Greek art from classic representation to Byzantine ornament, and in Latin Christian art from wooden ceilings to brick or stone vaults and domes and buttressed walls.

Sasanian carvings at Taq-e Bostan and Naqsh-e Rustam were colored; so were many features of the palaces; but only traces of such painting remain.

The literature, however, makes it clear that the art of painting flourished in Sasanian times; the prophet Mani is reported to have founded a school of painting; Firdowsi speaks of Persian magnates adorning their mansions with pictures of Iranian heroes; and the poet al-Buhturi describes the murals in the palace at Ctesiphon.

When a Sasanian king died, the best painter of the time was called upon to make a portrait of him for a collection kept in the royal treasury. Painting, sculpture , pottery , and other forms of decoration shared their designs with Sasanian textile art.

Silks, embroideries, brocades , damasks , tapestries , chair covers, canopies, tents and rugs were woven with patience and masterly skill, and were dyed in warm tints of yellow, blue and green.

Every Persian but the peasant and the priest aspired to dress above his class; presents often took the form of sumptuous garments; and great colorful carpets had been an appendage of wealth in the East since Assyrian days.

The two dozen Sasanian textiles that have survived are among the most highly valued fabrics in existence.

Even in their own day, Sasanian textiles were admired and imitated from Egypt to the Far East; and during the Middle Ages , they were favored for clothing the relics of Christian saints.

When Heraclius captured the palace of Khosrau II Parvez at Dastagerd , delicate embroideries and an immense rug were among his most precious spoils.

Harun al-Rashid prided himself on a spacious Sasanian rug thickly studded with jewelry. Persians wrote love poems about their rugs.

Studies on Sasanian remains show over types of crowns being worn by Sasanian kings. The various Sasanian crowns demonstrate the cultural, economic, social and historical situation in each period.

The crowns also show the character traits of each king in this era. Different symbols and signs on the crowns—the moon, stars, eagle and palm, each illustrate the wearer's religious faith and beliefs.

The Sasanian Dynasty, like the Achaemenid, originated in the province of Pars. The Sasanians saw themselves as successors of the Achaemenids, after the Hellenistic and Parthian interlude, and believed that it was their destiny to restore the greatness of Persia.

In reviving the glories of the Achaemenid past, the Sasanians were no mere imitators. The art of this period reveals an astonishing virility, in certain respects anticipating key features of Islamic art.

Sasanian art combined elements of traditional Persian art with Hellenistic elements and influences. Though the East accepted the outward form of this art, it never really assimilated its spirit.

Already in the Parthian period, Hellenistic art was being interpreted freely by the peoples of the Near East. Throughout the Sasanian period, there was reaction against it.

Sasanian art revived forms and traditions native to Persia, and in the Islamic period, these reached the shores of the Mediterranean. With the accession of the [Sasanians], Persia regained much of that power and stability to which she had been so long a stranger The improvement in the fine arts at home indicates returning prosperity, and a degree of security unknown since the fall of the Achaemenidae.

Surviving palaces illustrate the splendor in which the Sasanian monarchs lived. Examples include palaces at Firuzabad and Bishapur in Fars , and the capital city of Ctesiphon in the Asoristan province present-day Iraq.

In addition to local traditions, Parthian architecture influenced Sasanian architectural characteristics. All are characterized by the barrel-vaulted iwans introduced in the Parthian period.

During the Sasanian period, these reached massive proportions, particularly at Ctesiphon. This magnificent structure fascinated architects in the centuries that followed and has been considered one of the most important examples of Persian architecture.

Many of the palaces contain an inner audience hall consisting, as at Firuzabad, of a chamber surmounted by a dome.

The Persians solved the problem of constructing a circular dome on a square building by employing squinches , or arches built across each corner of the square, thereby converting it into an octagon on which it is simple to place the dome.

The dome chamber in the palace of Firuzabad is the earliest surviving example of the use of the squinch, suggesting that this architectural technique was probably invented in Persia.

The unique characteristic of Sasanian architecture was its distinctive use of space. The Sasanian architect conceived his building in terms of masses and surfaces; hence the use of massive walls of brick decorated with molded or carved stucco.

Stucco wall decorations appear at Bishapur, but better examples are preserved from Chal Tarkhan near Rey late Sasanian or early Islamic in date , and from Ctesiphon and Kish in Mesopotamia.

The panels show animal figures set in roundels, human busts, and geometric and floral motifs. At Bishapur, some of the floors were decorated with mosaics showing scenes of banqueting.

The Roman influence here is clear, and the mosaics may have been laid by Roman prisoners. Buildings were decorated with wall paintings.

Particularly fine examples have been found on Mount Khajeh in Sistan. Due to the majority of the inhabitants being of peasant stock, the Sasanian economy relied on farming and agriculture, Khuzestan and Iraq being the most important provinces for it.

The Nahravan Canal is one of the greatest examples of Sasanian irrigation systems, and many of these things can still be found in Iran.

The mountains of the Sasanian state were used for lumbering by the nomads of the region, and the centralized nature of the Sasanian state allowed it to impose taxes on the nomads and inhabitants of the mountains.

During the reign of Khosrau I, further land was brought under centralized administration. Two trade routes were used during the Sasanian period: one in the north, the famous Silk Route , and one less prominent route on the southern Sasanian coast.

The factories of Susa , Gundeshapur , and Shushtar were famously known for their production of silk, and rivaled the Chinese factories.

The Sasanians showed great toleration to the inhabitants of the countryside, which allowed the latter to stockpile in case of famine.

Persian industry under the Sasanians developed from domestic to urban forms. Guilds were numerous. Good roads and bridges, well patrolled, enabled state post and merchant caravans to link Ctesiphon with all provinces; and harbors were built in the Persian Gulf to quicken trade with India.

Khosrau I further extended the already vast trade network. The Sasanian state now tended toward monopolistic control of trade, with luxury goods assuming a far greater role in the trade than heretofore, and the great activity in building of ports, caravanserais, bridges and the like, was linked to trade and urbanization.

The Persians dominated international trade, both in the Indian Ocean , Central Asia and South Russia, in the time of Khosrau, although competition with the Byzantines was at times intense.

Sassanian settlements in Oman and Yemen testify to the importance of trade with India, but the silk trade with China was mainly in the hands of Sasanian vassals and the Iranian people, the Sogdians.

The main exports of the Sasanians were silk; woolen and golden textiles; carpets and rugs; hides; and leather and pearls from the Persian Gulf.

There were also goods in transit from China paper, silk and India spices , which Sasanian customs imposed taxes upon, and which were re-exported from the Empire to Europe.

It was also a time of increased metallurgical production, so Iran earned a reputation as the "armory of Asia".

Most of the Sasanian mining centers were at the fringes of the Empire — in Armenia, the Caucasus and above all, Transoxania. The extraordinary mineral wealth of the Pamir Mountains on the eastern horizon of the Sasanian empire led to a legend among the Tajiks , an Iranian people living there, which is still told today.

It said that when God was creating the world, he tripped over the Pamirs, dropping his jar of minerals, which spread across the region. Under Parthian rule , Zoroastrianism had fragmented into regional variations which also saw the rise of local cult-deities, some from Iranian religious tradition but others drawn from Greek tradition too.

Greek paganism and religious ideas had spread and mixed with Zoroastrianism when Alexander the Great had conquered the Persian Empire from Darius III —a process of Greco-Persian religious and cultural synthesisation which had continued into the Parthian era.

However, under the Sassanids, an orthodox Zoroastrianism was revived and the religion would undergo numerous and important developments.

Sassanid Zoroastrianism would develop to have clear distinctions from the practices laid out in the Avesta , the holy books of Zoroastrianism.

It is often argued [ who? The relationship between the Sassanid kings and the religions practiced in their empire became complex and varied. For instance, while Shapur I tolerated and encouraged a variety of religions and seems to have been a Zurvanite himself, religious minorities at times were suppressed under later kings, such as Bahram II.

Shapur II, on the other hand, tolerated religious groups except Christians, whom he only persecuted in the wake of Constantine's conversion.

From the very beginning of Sassanid rule in an orthodox Pars -oriented Zoroastrian tradition would play an important part in influencing and lending legitimization to the state until its collapse in the mid-7th century.

After Ardashir I had deposed the last Parthian King, Artabanus V , he sought the aid of Tansar , a herbad high priest of the Iranian Zoroastrians to aid him in acquiring legitimization for the new dynasty.

This Tansar did by writing to the nominal and vassal kings in different regions of Iran to accept Ardashir I as their new King, most notably in the Letter of Tansar , which was addressed to Gushnasp , the vassal king of Tabarestan.

Gushnasp had accused Ardashir I of having forsaken tradition by usurping the throne, and that while his actions "may have been good for the World" they were "bad for the faith".

Tansar refuted these charges in his letter to Gushnasp by proclaiming that not all of the old ways had been good, and that Ardashir was more virtuous than his predecessors.

The Letter of Tansar included some attacks on the religious practices and orientation of the Parthians, who did not follow an orthodox Zoroastrian tradition but rather a heterodox one, and so attempted to justify Ardashir's rebellion against them by arguing that Zoroastrianism had 'decayed' after Alexander's invasion, a decay which had continued under the Parthians and so needed to be 'restored'.

Tansar would later help to oversee the formation of a single 'Zoroastrian church' under the control of the Persian magi , alongside the establishment of a single set of Avestan texts, which he himself approved and authorised.

Kartir , a very powerful and influential Persian cleric, served under several Sassanid Kings and actively campaigned for the establishment of a Pars -centred Zoroastrian orthodoxy across the Sassanid Empire.

His power and influence grew so much that he became the only 'commoner' to later be allowed to have his own rock inscriptions carved in the royal fashion at Sar Mashhad , Naqsh-e Rostam , Ka'ba-ye Zartosht and Naqsh-e Rajab.

Under Shapur I , Kartir was made the 'absolute authority' over the 'order of priests' at the Sassanid court and throughout the empire's regions too, with the implication that all regional Zoroastrian clergies would now for the first time be subordinated to the Persian Zoroastrian clerics of Pars.

In expressing his doctrinal orthodoxy, Kartir also encouraged an obscure Zoroastrian concept known as khvedodah among the common-folk marriage within the family; between siblings, cousins.

At various stages during his long career at court, Kartir also oversaw the periodic persecution of the non-Zoroastrians in Iran, and secured the execution of the prophet Mani during the reign of Bahram I.

During the reign of Hormizd I the predecessor and brother of Bahram I Kartir was awarded the new Zoroastrian title of mobad — a clerical title that was to be considered higher than that of the eastern-Iranian Parthian title of herbad.

The Persians had long known of the Egyptian calendar, with its days divided into 12 months. However, the traditional Zoroastrian calendar had 12 months of 30 days each.

During the reign of Ardashir I , an effort was made to introduce a more accurate Zoroastrian calendar for the year, so 5 extra days were added to it.

These 5 extra days were named the Gatha days and had a practical as well as religious use. However, they were still kept apart from the 'religious year', so as not to disturb the long-held observances of the older Zoroastrian calendar.

Some difficulties arose with the introduction of the first calendar reform, particularly the pushing forward of important Zoroastrian festivals such as Hamaspat-maedaya and Nowruz on the calendar year by year.

This confusion apparently caused much distress among ordinary people, and while the Sassanids tried to enforce the observance of these great celebrations on the new official dates, much of the populace continued to observe them on the older, traditional dates, and so parallel celebrations for Nowruz and other Zoroastrian celebrations would often occur within days of each other, in defiance of the new official calendar dates, causing much confusion and friction between the laity and the ruling class.

This was done for all except Nowruz. A further problem occurred as Nowruz had shifted in position during this period from the spring equinox to autumn , although this inconsistency with the original spring-equinox date for Nowruz had possibly occurred during the Parthian period too.

Further calendar reforms occurred during the later Sassanid era. Ever since the reforms under Ardashir I there had been no intercalation. Thus with a quarter-day being lost each year, the Zoroastrian holy year had slowly slipped backwards, with Nowruz eventually ending up in July.

A great council was therefore convened and it was decided that Nowruz be moved back to the original position it had during the Achaemenid period — back to spring.

This change probably took place during the reign of Kavad I in the early 6th century. Much emphasis seems to have been placed during this period on the importance of spring and on its connection with the resurrection and Frashegerd.

Reflecting the regional rivalry and bias the Sassanids are believed to have held against their Parthian predecessors, it was probably during the Sassanid era that the two great fires in Pars and Media —the Adur Farnbag and Adur Gushnasp respectively—were promoted to rival, and even eclipse, the sacred fire in Parthia , the Adur Burzen-Mehr.

The Adur Burzen-Mehr, linked in legend with Zoroaster and Vishtaspa the first Zoroastrian King , was too holy for the Persian magi to end veneration of it completely.

It was therefore during the Sassanid era that the three Great Fires of the Zoroastrian world were given specific associations.

The Adur Gushnasp eventually became, by custom, a place of pilgrimage by foot for newly enthroned Kings after their coronation.

It is likely that, during the Sassanid era, these three Great Fires became central places for pilgrimage among Zoroastrians.

The early Sassanids ruled against the use of cult images in worship, and so statues and idols were removed from many temples and, where possible, sacred fires were installed instead.

This policy extended even to the 'non-Iran' regions of the empire during some periods. Hormizd I allegedly destroyed statues erected for the dead in Armenia.

However, only cult-statues were removed. The Sassanids continued to use images to represent the deities of Zoroastrianism, including that of Ahura Mazda , in the tradition that was established during the Seleucid era.

In the early Sassanid period royal inscriptions often consisted of Parthian , Middle Persian and Greek. However, the last time Parthian was used for a royal inscription came during the reign of Narseh , son of Shapur I.

It is likely therefore that soon after this, the Sassanids made the decision to impose Persian as the sole official language within Iran, and forbade the use of written Parthian.

This had important consequences for Zoroastrianism, given that all secondary literature, including the Zand , was then recorded only in Middle Persian , having a profound impact in orienting Zoroastrianism towards the influence of the Pars region, the homeland of the Sassanids.

Some scholars of Zoroastrianism such as Mary Boyce have speculated that it is possible that the yasna service was lengthened during the Sassanid era "to increase its impressiveness".

Furthermore, it is believed that another longer service developed, known as the Visperad , which derived from the extended yasna.

This was developed for the celebration of the seven holy days of obligation the Gahambars plus Nowruz and was dedicated to Ahura Mazda. While the very earliest Zoroastrians eschewed writing as a form of demonic practice, the Middle Persian Zand , along with much secondary Zoroastrian literature, was recorded in writing during the Sassanid era for the first time.

Many of these Zoroastrian texts were original works from the Sassanid period. Perhaps the most important of these works was the Bundahishn — the mythical Zoroastrian story of Creation.

Other older works, some from remote antiquity, were possibly translated from different Iranian languages into Middle Persian during this period.

The alphabet was based on the Pahlavi one, but rather than the inadequacy of that script for recording spoken Middle Persian, the Avestan alphabet had 46 letters, and was well suited to recording Avestan in written form in the way the language actually sounded and was uttered.

The Persian magi were therefore finally able to record all surviving ancient Avestan texts in written form. As a result of this development, the Sasanian Avesta was then compiled into 21 nasks divisions to correspond with the 21 words of the Ahunavar invocation.

The nasks were further divided into three groups of seven. The first group contained the Gathas and all texts associated with them, while the second group contained works of scholastic learning.

The final section contained treatises of instruction for the magi, such as the Vendidad , law-texts and other works, such as yashts.

This text is the basis of the later Shahnameh of Ferdowsi. Although these churches originally maintained ties with Christian churches in the Roman Empire, they were indeed quite different from them.

One reason for this was that the liturgical language of the Nestorian and Jacobite Churches was Syriac rather than Greek, the language of Roman Christianity during the early centuries and the language of Eastern Roman Christianity in later centuries.

Another reason for a separation between Eastern and Western Christianity was strong pressure from the Sasanian authorities to sever connections with Rome, since the Sasanian Empire was often at war with the Roman Empire.

Christianity was recognized by Yazdegerd I in as an allowable faith within the Sasanian Empire. The major break with mainstream Christianity came in , due to the pronouncements of the First Council of Ephesus.

While the teaching of the Council of Ephesus was accepted within the Roman Empire, the Sasanian church disagreed with the condemnation of Nestorius' teachings.

When Nestorius was deposed as patriarch, a number of his followers fled to the Sasanian Empire. Persian emperors used this opportunity to strengthen Nestorius' position within the Sasanian church which made up the vast majority of the Christians in the predominantly Zoroastrian Persian Empire by eliminating the most important pro-Roman clergymen in Persia and making sure that their places were taken by Nestorians.

This was to assure that these Christians would be loyal to the Persian Empire, and not to the Roman. Most of the Christians in the Sasanian empire lived on the western edge of the empire, predominantly in Mesopotamia, but there were also important extant communities in the more northern territories, namely Caucasian Albania , Lazica, Iberia , and the Persian part of Armenia.

Other important communities were to be found on the island of Tylos present day Bahrain , the southern coast of the Persian Gulf, and the area of the Arabian kingdom of Lakhm.

Some of these areas were the earliest to be Christianized; the kingdom of Armenia became the first independent Christian state in the world in While a number of Assyrian territories had almost become fully Christianized even earlier during the 3rd century, they never became independent nations.

Some of the recent excavations have discovered the Buddhist , Hindu and Jewish religious sites in the empire. A very large Jewish community flourished under Sasanian rule, with thriving centers at Isfahan , Babylon and Khorasan , and with its own semiautonomous Exilarchate leadership based in Mesopotamia.

Jewish communities suffered only occasional persecution. They enjoyed a relative freedom of religion, and were granted privileges denied to other religious minorities.

His friendship with Shmuel produced many advantages for the Jewish community. Raba's friendship with Shapur II enabled him to secure a relaxation of the oppressive laws enacted against the Jews in the Persian Empire.

Moreover, in the eastern portion of the empire, various Buddhist places of worship, notably in Bamiyan , were active as Buddhism gradually became more popular in that region.

During the early Sasanian period, Middle Persian along with Greek and Parthian appeared in the inscriptions of the early Sasanian kings. However, by the time Narseh r.

Sometimes one of the members of the clans would even protest against Sasanian rule. Aramaic , like in the Achaemenid Empire , was widely used in the Sasanian Empire, and provided scripts for Middle Persian and other languages.

Although Middle Persian was the native language of the Sasanians who, however, were not originally from Pars , it was only a minority spoken-language in the vast Sasanian Empire; it only formed the majority of Pars, while it was widespread around Media and its surrounding regions.

However, there were several different Persian dialects during that time. Daylamite and Gilaki was spoken in Gilan , while Mazandarani also known as Tabari was spoken in Tabaristan.

Furthermore, many other languages and dialects were spoken in the two regions. In the Sasanian territories in the Caucasus, numerous languages were spoken including Georgian , various Kartvelian languages notably in Lazica , Middle Persian, [] Armenian , Caucasian Albanian , Scythian , Greek , and others.

In Khuzestan, several languages were spoken; Persian in the north and east, while Aramaic was spoken in the rest of the place.

Iranians had also begun to settle in the province, along with the Zutt , who had been deported from India. Other Indian groups such as the Malays may also have been deported to Meshan, either as captives or recruited sailors.

Due to invasions from the Scythians and their sub-group, the Alans , into Azerbaijan, Armenia, and other places in the Caucasus, the places gained a larger, although small, Iranian population.

To the further south in Sistan , which saw an influx of Scythians during the Parthian period, Sistani was spoken. Furthermore, Slavic and Germanic were also spoken in the Sasanian Empire, once again due to the capture of Roman soldiers.

The influence of the Sasanian Empire continued long after it fell. The empire, through the guidance of several able emperors prior to its fall, had achieved a Persian renaissance that would become a driving force behind the civilization of the newly established religion of Islam.

Sasanian culture and military structure had a significant influence on Roman civilization. The structure and character of the Roman army was affected by the methods of Persian warfare.

In a modified form, the Roman Imperial autocracy imitated the royal ceremonies of the Sasanian court at Ctesiphon, and those in turn had an influence on the ceremonial traditions of the courts of medieval and modern Europe.

The origin of the formalities of European diplomacy is attributed to the diplomatic relations between the Persian governments and the Roman Empire.

Important developments in Jewish history are associated with the Sassanian Empire. The Babylonian Talmud was composed between the third and sixth centuries in Sasanian Persia [] and major Jewish academies of learning were established in Sura and Pumbedita that became cornerstones of Jewish scholarship.

The collapse of the Sasanian Empire led to Islam slowly replacing Zoroastrianism as the primary religion of Iran.

A large number of Zoroastrians chose to emigrate to escape Islamic persecution. According to the Qissa-i Sanjan , one group of those refugees landed in what is now Gujarat , India, where they were allowed greater freedom to observe their old customs and to preserve their faith.

The descendants of those Zoroastrians would play a small but significant role in the development of India. Today there are over 70, Zoroastrians in India.

The Zoroastrians still use a variant of the religious calendar instituted under the Sasanians. That calendar still marks the number of years since the accession of Yazdegerd III, just as it did in See also: Zoroastrian calendar.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Last Persian imperial dynasty before the arrival of Islam. The Sasanian Empire at its greatest extent c.

Greatest temporary extent during Byzantine—Sasanian War of — Part of a series on the. Mythological history. Pishdadian dynasty Kayanian dynasty. Ancient period.

Imperial period. Medieval period. Early modern period. Modern period. Related articles. See also: Timeline of the Sasanian Empire.

Main article: Military of the Sasanian Empire. Main article: Abyssinian—Persian wars. Main article: Iran-China relations. Main article: Indo-Sasanians.

See also: Academy of Gondishapur. Main article: Sasanian economy. Main article: Zoroastrianism. Main articles: Church of the East and Maphrianate of the East.

See also: Zoroastrianism in India. Iran portal. Retrieved 16 December Jamie Stokes, Infobase Publishing, , Tauris, Journal of World-Systems Research.

Retrieved 11 September Social Science History. A Brief History of Iraq. Infobase Publishing. Culture of Iran. Archived from the original on 21 November Ashgate Pub Co, 30 Sep.

Retrieved 9 November Artaxerxes Ardaxsir V. Circa — AD. AR Drachm 3. Dodgeon; Samuel N. Lieu Buddhist Manuscripts Vol. Hermes Pub.

Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society : 24— Kabul Shahi — Principality of Chaghaniyan 7th—8th centuries Rashidun Caliphate — Umayyads — Abbasids — Tahirids — Saffarids — Samanids — Ghaznavids — Ghurids before — Seljuks — Khwarezmids — Qarlughids — Ilkhanate — Chagatai Khanate — Khaljis — Karts — Timurids — Arghuns — Palaeolithic 2,,—, BC.

Madrasian Culture Soanian Culture. Neolithic 10,— BC. Chalcolithic — BC. Anarta tradition c. Bronze Age — BC.

Iron Age — BC. Late medieval period — Early modern period — Colonial states — Periods of Sri Lanka. National histories. Regional histories.

Specialised histories. The Numismatic Chronicle From the Kushans to the Western Turks. Yarshater p. CUP Archive. Middle kingdoms of India.

References and sources for table. Flood, Gavin D. Provinces of the Sasanian Empire. Sasanian Empire. Timeline of the Sasanian Empire. Namespaces Article Talk.

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Wikimedia Commons. Preceded by. Kushan Empire. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom. Ancient Indus Valley Civilisation.

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