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View Poll Results: Which Persian Empire Was the Most Prestigous?
Achaemenid Empire 60 60.00%
Parthian Empire 5 5.00%
Sasanian Empire 23 23.00%
Safavid Empire 9 9.00%
Afsharid Empire 1 1.00%
Zand Empire 0 0%
Qajar Empire 0 0%
Pahlavi Empire 0 0%
I can't decide for sure. 2 2.00%
Voters: 100. You may not vote on this poll

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Old March 14th, 2015, 07:29 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by starman View Post
It's not quite clear why there was no serious resistance to Odaenathus. Lack of a standing army(?)--I think Shapur would've done something if he could.
We'll never know.

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Well, considering just how disgraceful it was, it may say something about the relative strengths of the two empires that the Persians did not attempt to change things until the war with Julian which of course Julian initiated.
Actually they did. Shāpur II fought the Romans from 337 to 350, but in spite of considerable success on the battlefield, he gained little. The war was interrupted by Central Asian nomads who threatened the Persian Empire, forcing Shāpur to quickly sign a peace treaty with the Romans.

After securing the eastern borders he turned his attention towards the Romans once again, launching a second war more successful than the first.

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Apparently the end third century setback (and the strata Diocletiana) was sobering enough to keep the Sassanids in check for many years, despite the unacceptability of the status quo.
Narseh died three years after signing the disgraceful treaty. Hormoz II who succeeded him ruled for seven years only, a peaceful reign during which the Empire was just recovering from the defeat of Narseh. His death was followed by a brief dynastic struggle, and Shāpur II emerged victorious even before he was born, having been crowned in utero. From 309 to 325 the affairs of state were conducted by nobles and ministers, since Shāpur was too young to rule. In 325 the young Shāpur fought the Arabs in Eastern Arabia and Mesopotamia in a successful campaign that might have lasted more than a year, after which there was a short peaceful period followed by hostilities with the Romans. With that having been said, the Sassanids couldn't do much against Rome from 299 to 337.

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But surely it says something that the Persians like the Parthians tried hard to prevent Ctesiphon's fall whenever possible. "Misiche" is an example.
Sure, their reputation and the seat of their governments were at stake, but my point still remains that Ctesiphon wasn't the nerve centre of these empire, and when considering their quick recovery from losing Ctesiphon, this becomes more evident.

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Besides their big victories at Carrhae and against Anthony, they annihilated a legion around 161 CE.
Impressive, but the Sassanids did much more and better.

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Yes of course. Unfortunately, for them, it says a lot that they sought to plunder the Roman East, and in that sense were little better than some of the northern barbarians. The fact that Sassanids sought loot, or at another occasion, financial help from the Romans, clearly indicates which empire was better at generating wealth. Not only that, Shapur I used Roman prisoners to build some of his monuments. Evidently they had better skills than his countrymen.
I thought we were comparing Parthians and Persians, not Persians and Romans.

Anyway, I'm not familiar with Roman economy, so I'll refrain from making a comparison. The Sassanid economy on the other hand was based on the following:
  • Taxes
  • Agriculture
  • Trade (Local trade, international trade mainly through the Silk Road, and maritime trade in the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, and Gulf of Eden).
  • Plunder and tribute from foreigners.

The Sassanid economy was solid, solid enough to maintain a powerful war machine and an expansive Empire. The Persians did loot the Romans, bit so did the Romans. In actual fact, the Roman-Parthian/Persian Wars was mostly a series of glorified raids by both sides. But the Persian Emperors didn't invade Roman territories only for loot, they also sought political and strategic gains which would improve their image back home and boost the prestige of the Sassanid Empire. The same was also true for the Romans. After Carus knew about the Persian civil war he seized the opportunity to snatch Ctesiphon and gain the prestigious title of Parthicus, boosting his reputation in Rome. A Roman emperor whose name I can't recall even went as far as treacherously capturing peaceful Persian ambassadors and displaying them in a Roman triumph in order to claim victory over the Persians. Both sides saw each other as legitimate targets worth looting and beating up in order to increase legitimacy and wealth in their respective empires.

Regarding the financial help, there was a treaty between Romans and Persians whereby both sides would maintain the defences of the Caucasus against nomadic marauders. The Romans didn't honour the treaty, and when the Persians repeatedly requested help, they refused. The Persians didn't request assistance because they were poor or something.

As for Shāpur I building Roman monuments by using Roman POWs, it says nothing about the quality of Iranian craftsmanship, more like the open mindedness of Shāpur himself and his good artistic taste. Iranians have been making magnificent monuments at least since the time when Rome was a backwater village.

Last edited by Kartir; March 14th, 2015 at 07:45 AM.
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Old March 14th, 2015, 07:56 AM   #52

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I, easily, chose Achaemenid Empire. But that comes from a mind that's kind of programmed to ancient history and it has been studying ancient history for the last year.
Their influence on classical civilization and Mesopotamia is far behind everything I know had existed in Iran's today region.
Luckily some years from now, I will had suficient knowledge about Sasanian Empire and the following empires to counter-part today's argument.
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Old March 14th, 2015, 11:13 PM   #53

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I think the fall of the Capital means as much a fall of the empire, by this the opponent controls the political, religious and economic center of an empire...that ofcourse besides the psychological impact....

Is there any other reason (than the fact that Mesopotamia had the main centers of civlizations at the time Persians came) why Cetisphon (a city in Mesopotamian land) was chosen as capital for Parthains and Sassanids, even Achaemenids chose a capital in Babylon....
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Old March 15th, 2015, 12:37 AM   #54
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Yes I never clearly could point one reason for this. My analysis for such a capital city would be few of the following:

1) to have a capital more centrally located and suitable for conquests in the west. Iran proper would mean difficulty in going westward everytime.Presence in Iraq allowed better protection of western frontier and an easier launching bad into neighbouring Syria.

2) Protecting Iran proper from any attacks. All attacks would be on Mesepotamian territory and this is what happened. If enemy takes capital you move inward into your heartland. By the time the enemy takes your capital they have weathered down and have no means to move into Iranian plateau. This is what happened always with Romans. In my view Constantinople despite being so well protected often faced attacks but Iran proper never did. This itself makes this a great move. Never did the Romans/Byzantines enter the Iran Plateau in over a millenia. Post Alexanders invasion this was well thought move.

3) Tigris/Euphrates delta means adequate food and water supply to feed the aristocracy and the military.

4) Better control over Assyrians and Babylonians. Remember these kingdoms kept bouncing back with Neo versions of their empires and back then they could have just rebelled and gone off Persian radar. That would be the last thing Persians would want. A capital there means a larger standing army. Plus a large Persian elite and bureaucracy who would move their for jobs. This would counterbalance the local Mesepotamians.

5) Further Mesepotamian artisans, engineers etc. could help build huge monuments for the Persians allowing them to establish a unique monument building tradition.

6) Arab caravans in the deserts also could be taxed and benefits of trade could be better accessed with a capital in Mesepotamia.

7) Control over Christian population. The peasantry was strongly Christian. Mesepotamia continuously saw religious upheveal. It was important to keep this in check.

These are some of the reasons I could think of. But these are my interpretations of the reading I have done. Would like to know more from you guys.
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Old March 15th, 2015, 03:03 AM   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Essa View Post
Is there any other reason (than the fact that Mesopotamia had the main centers of civlizations at the time Persians came) why Cetisphon (a city in Mesopotamian land) was chosen as capital for Parthains and Sassanids, even Achaemenids chose a capital in Babylon....
The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume III, Part 1, page 121:

"The region of Ctesiphon was a natural site for a capital since the Tigris and Euphrates approached each other there, and canals connected the two. Trade routes from the four points of the compass converged here and wealth from trade accumulated in the area of ancient Babylon and modern Baghdad. Furthermore, much of the agricultural wealth of the Sasanian empire was concentrated in Mesopotamia.

Ctesiphon was exposed to attack and conquest by enemies coming down the rivers from the north-west, so from time to time certain Sasanian kings sought to establish their courts at cities more removed from danger of capture. Shapur I built Bishapur in Fars province and probably died there. Gundeshapur or Susa may have seen the court established in them for a time, but neither city could compete with Ctesiphon for economic as well as strategic reasons.

Likewise Hamadan, an ancient city, was probably the summer capital sometimes, and Estakhr at others. Again both cities were too cold in winter to serve as capitals, as were most towns on the plateau.
"

As for the Parthians, their capital in Nisa was threatened by the powerful Central Asian nomads, so they gradually moved their seat of government to Ctesiphon, and the reasons behind their choice were probably similar to the Sassanids'. I'd like to add that Ctesiphon served as a good frontier city around which armies could be mustered to invade the Romans.

The Achaemenids before them, they had many capital, not only Babylon.

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Originally Posted by greatstreetwarrior View Post
Yes I never clearly could point one reason for this. My analysis for such a capital city would be few of the following:

1) to have a capital more centrally located and suitable for conquests in the west. Iran proper would mean difficulty in going westward everytime.Presence in Iraq allowed better protection of western frontier and an easier launching bad into neighbouring Syria.

2) Protecting Iran proper from any attacks. All attacks would be on Mesepotamian territory and this is what happened. If enemy takes capital you move inward into your heartland. By the time the enemy takes your capital they have weathered down and have no means to move into Iranian plateau. This is what happened always with Romans. In my view Constantinople despite being so well protected often faced attacks but Iran proper never did. This itself makes this a great move. Never did the Romans/Byzantines enter the Iran Plateau in over a millenia. Post Alexanders invasion this was well thought move.

3) Tigris/Euphrates delta means adequate food and water supply to feed the aristocracy and the military.
Well said.
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Old March 15th, 2015, 03:18 AM   #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kartir View Post
The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume III, Part 1, page 121:

"The region of Ctesiphon was a natural site for a capital since the Tigris and Euphrates approached each other there, and canals connected the two. Trade routes from the four points of the compass converged here and wealth from trade accumulated in the area of ancient Babylon and modern Baghdad. Furthermore, much of the agricultural wealth of the Sasanian empire was concentrated in Mesopotamia.

Ctesiphon was exposed to attack and conquest by enemies coming down the rivers from the north-west, so from time to time certain Sasanian kings sought to establish their courts at cities more removed from danger of capture. Shapur I built Bishapur in Fars province and probably died there. Gundeshapur or Susa may have seen the court established in them for a time, but neither city could compete with Ctesiphon for economic as well as strategic reasons.

Likewise Hamadan, an ancient city, was probably the summer capital sometimes, and Estakhr at others. Again both cities were too cold in winter to serve as capitals, as were most towns on the plateau.
"

As for the Parthians, their capital in Nisa was threatened by the powerful Central Asian nomads, so they gradually moved their seat of government to Ctesiphon, and the reasons behind their choice were probably similar to the Sassanids'. I'd like to add that Ctesiphon served as a good frontier city around which armies could be mustered to invade the Romans.

The Achaemenids before them, they had many capital, not only Babylon.



Well said.
thanks let me know what yu think of the other factors I mentioned as well.
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Old March 15th, 2015, 03:21 AM   #57

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Thanks for both of you....
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Old March 15th, 2015, 10:05 AM   #58
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thanks let me know what yu think of the other factors I mentioned as well.
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4) Better control over Assyrians and Babylonians. Remember these kingdoms kept bouncing back with Neo versions of their empires and back then they could have just rebelled and gone off Persian radar. That would be the last thing Persians would want. A capital there means a larger standing army. Plus a large Persian elite and bureaucracy who would move their for jobs. This would counterbalance the local Mesepotamians.
The Mesopotamians by that time had long ceased to play an independent role and project Mesopotamian power; the days of the old Mesopotamian Empires were gone. The people had been Hellenised and were later Christianised, and had no imperial aspirations. The ancient Mesopotamian Empires centred on the cult of the local deities, and since these cults had become irrelevant by the time of the Parthians, there was no danger of Mesopotamian resurgence.

A Persian bureaucracy was established in various parts of the Empire, and not only in Ctesiphon.

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5) Further Mesepotamian artisans, engineers etc. could help build huge monuments for the Persians allowing them to establish a unique monument building tradition.

6) Arab caravans in the deserts also could be taxed and benefits of trade could be better accessed with a capital in Mesepotamia.

7) Control over Christian population. The peasantry was strongly Christian. Mesepotamia continuously saw religious upheveal. It was important to keep this in check.
These could have been fulfilled without a capital in Ctesiphon.
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Old March 16th, 2015, 03:28 AM   #59

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kartir View Post
Odaenathus reaching Ctesiphon was a result of Shāpur's earlier strategic blunder

The disgraceful treaty of 299 was a result of Narseh's unnecessary defeat in Satala, not the supposed weakness of the Sassanid Empire.
Getting back to this: OK but by the same token, Roman defeats around midcentury could also have been avoided.
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Old March 16th, 2015, 09:59 AM   #60
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Afshar and Qajar were Turkic or mongoloid and not Persian. I'd choose Elamite btw (also not Persian), they seemed to be rather interesting in my opinion.
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