The Parthians (Iran. Pehlewan / Pahlawan / Pahlewan ) were a people in the greater region of Western and Central Asia who spoke a north-western Iranian language . They are often associated with the Arsakid dynasty , which was named after its founder Arsak I (also called Araš , Aršaka or Aškān ), because with the establishment of the Arsacid dynasty, the foundation stone for the Parthian Empire was laid.
However, the Parthian people outlived the Arsacid Empire , as different Parthian noble families continued to be of great importance both in the subsequent Sassanid Empire and in the later Islamicized Iran. In the course of the Islamic conquest of Iran, the former Parthian regions showed a growing cultural and linguistic heterogeneity over time.
The early Parthians probably descended from the Parni, who were themselves part of the Dahae tribal confederation . Like the Medes before that, they also immigrated to the Iranian highlands via Khoresmia . The Parni succeeded in driving the Seleucids out of the Parthien satrapy . With the establishment of their dynasty , the Parni adopted the name Parthiens (Old Persian Parθava , Parthian Parθaw , Central Iranian Pahlaw ).
In the following period the Arsakid rulers succeeded in constant wars against the Seleucids and the Graeco-Bactrian Empire to become the dominant power in the highlands of Iran and the adjacent areas, especially in Mesopotamia. The Parthian Empire was characterized by numerous regional sub-kingdoms, some of which had previously been Seleucid vassal states such as Armenia and Media Atropatene , and some of which were newly formed during the decline and dissolution of the Seleucid Empire in the " Upper Satrapies ", such as the Persis , Elymais , Charakene , Adiabene , Osrhoene , Gordyene , or under the rule of the Arsacids the kingdom of Hatra . The core areas of the empire were Babylonia with the imperial center Ctesiphon and the landscape Groß-Medien, the later province of Jibal of the caliphate empire. As a result, there were battles with the Romans and Central Asian peoples, and empire was divided. There are only sparse records about the events in the east of the empire, where an Indo-Parthian kingdom was formed. Armenia remained predominantly a Roman clientele, but an arsacid branch succeeded in asserting itself as the sovereign even under Roman sovereignty.
Internal power struggles, the ongoing Roman expansion, which z. Some could be fought successfully, and allegedly fighting with the steppe peoples of the Saken (Scythians) and Kushan weakened the Parthian Empire. Ardaschir I from the house of the Sassanids , who was a vassal of the Arsacids and ruled in Persis, took advantage of the internal conflict between the Parthians and organized a rebellion. With the conquest of the cities in the Iranian highlands and Mesopotamia, he ended the rule of the Arsakid dynasty.
In the Sassanid Empire , which was founded by Ardashir I , the Parthian aristocratic families continued to have great influence. In fact, not much changed in the internal structure of the empire. The noble families provided soldiers for the Sassanid army, but also generals ( Spahbod ) who enjoyed a knightly rank and were nicknamed Pahlav .
During the battles of the Sassanids with the Byzantines , Farruch Hormizd from the Parthian house of the Ispahbudhan rebelled together with Shahrbaraz from the Parthian house of the Mihran. With Kavadh II they overthrew Chosrau II. This was followed by a division of the Sassanid Empire into a Parthian ( Pehlewanig ) fraction in the north and a Persian ( Parsigian ) in the south.
Siyavakhsh, grandson of the famous Bahram Chobin , who ruled in Rey , ended the civil war between the Parthian and Persian factions by murdering Farruch Hormizd . With the wuzurgan (dt. Elders) it was then decided to Yazdegerd III. to be appointed King of the Sassanid Empire.
At the same time, the Arabs invaded the weakened Sassanid Empire under the banner of Islam. Well-known Parthians fought in the battle of al-Qādisīya and the battle of Nehawend . At Ayn al-Tamr , Mihran Bahram-i Chubin (House of the Mihran) organized a resistance consisting of Christian Arabs who were defeated by the Muslim army. Rostam Farrochzād of the house of the Ispahbudhan led several battles against the Muslim Arabs. So he sent Bahman Jaduya , who managed to stop the Muslim army at the Battle of the Bridge for three years. After Rostam Farrochzad from the Sassanid king Yazdegerd III. had been ordered back from Ctesiphon, he fought alongside personalities such as Javanshir , Piruz Nahavandi , Hormuzan and Piruz Khosrow in Qādisīyah against the Muslims, where he was killed in battle.
After the Battle of Nehawend in 642, the Sassanid Empire fell apart, along with the administrative structures that had survived since the rule of the Arsacids. The Parthian aristocratic families dispersed in different regions of Iran or went under. Piruz Nahavandi , who had served under Rostam Farrochzad, was captured by the Muslim army. He served as a slave to Caliph Omar, whom he murdered while he was praying.
After the Islamic conquest, the Parthian identity experienced a decline, while the Persian identity was able to assert itself thanks to the Persian language. The terms Parthian , pahlaw , pahlawan , pahlawi u. the like entered the Arabic script as fahla , fahlawi , etc.
The Fahla region
After the collapse of the Sassanid Empire, various Islamic historians speak of the region of Fahla ( pahla , Eng . Parthia ) and limit the area by their definitions. According Mehrdad Ghodrat-Dizaji of the Urmia University give the following historians and geographers for the region Fahla different sizes to:
- Ibn al-Muqaffa ' : Azerbaijan, Nihawand , Hamadan, Rey, Isfahan
- al-Khwarizmi : Azerbaijan, Nihawand, Hamadan, Rey, Isfahan
- ad-Dīnawarī : Masabadhan, Mihrajangadhaq, Kirmanshah, Dinawar , Nihawand, Hamadan
- Ibn al-Faqih : Masabadhan, Mihrajangadhaq, Kirmanshah, Dinawar, Nihawand, Hamadan, Qom
- Ibn Chordadhbeh : Masabadhan, Mihrajangadhaq, Dinawar, Nihawand, Hamadan, Qazvin, Rey, Isfahan
- al-Masʿūdī : Azerbaijan, Masabadhan, Dinawar, Nihawand, Hamadan
- Hamzah al-Isfahani : Azerbaijan, Nihawand, Hamadan, Rey, Isfahan
- al-Muqaddasī : Masabadhan, Mihrajangadhaq, Dinawar, Nihawand, Hamadan
- Yāqūt ar-Rūmī : Masabadhan, Mihrajangadhaq, Kirmanschah, Dinawar, Nihawand, Hamadan, Qom
In today's context, this corresponds to the regions that still speak a north-west Iranian language. This area includes today's Azari regions ( Azerbaijan , West Azerbaijan , East Azerbaijan , Ardabil , Zanjan ), the Kurdish regions of Iran ( Kermanshah , Kordestan , Hamadan ), Lorestan and the former Median regions of Isfahan , Rey and Qazvin . In historical terms, the region fahla corresponds to the former province of Medien (incl. Atropatene) or the new Arabic names Jibāl and Azerbaijan.
Furthermore, the term Parthian and Pahlaw has been retained in Fahlaviyat , which today is understood to be a collection of lyrical texts that come from the regions listed. These either have old Azeri and Kurdish influences or are written in the Persian dialects of the regions mentioned, which have a strong north-west Iranian character. The authors of this collection of poems include:
- Awhadi Maraghai
- Ayn al-Quzat Hamadani
- Baba Tahir
- Safi ad-Din Ardabili
- Mama 'Esmat Tabrizi
- Maghrebi Tabrizi
- Homam Tabrizi
- Bondar Razi
- Safinaye Tabriz
Cities and regions
Other remnants of the word Pahlaw are cities like Pahleh in Ilam , Bahleh in West Azerbaijan or Palu in Elazığ , which can be found in areas where the Parthians had a strong influence. Ghodrat-Dizaji assumes that in the early Islamic period of Iran the Khorasan region, the homeland of the Parthians, was no longer parthian because this region is not included in the fahla definition of Islamic historians and geographers. Lazard confirms this assumption by speaking of early Sassanid military colonies in the east of the empire.
The western migration of the Parthians and the settlement of the Parthians in western and northern Iran either led to an assimilation of the local (Median) population or to a strong Parthian influence on these peoples. Today the former core regions of the Parthians are inhabited by northwestern Iranian peoples whose languages are close to Parthian.
The misassociation of Middle Persian
The term pahlavi or pahlawi is not used with a uniform meaning in linguistics. It is used today for both Middle Persian and Middle Iranian and, in the form of the Pahlawani , is reminiscent of ancient Parthian roots. The later naming of Middle Persian (Sassanid) by Islamic historians as pahlavi led to confusion in academia, since the connotation pahla is actually Parthian . This error is due to the fact that from the time of the Sassanids up to the 5th century AD, Parthian, i.e. pahlawi, was spoken in the court and therefore the language of the Sassanid kings was known as pahlawi . With the change in this tradition - Middle Persian has displaced Parthian - and the assumption that what was spoken was still pahlawi , the misconception that Sassanid was pahlawi prevailed in the Middle Ages . Today in Iran the term (zaban-e) parsi-ye miyane (German: Middle Persian) is predominantly used for Sassanid and pahlawi and pahlawani for Parthian . Hennerbichler deals with this problem. The Kurdish scientist Mehrdad Izady argues that Zakariya al-Qazwini's works have not been translated into the Western languages. Because in his work Al-Mu'jam the existing dialects of Pahlawani are dealt with, which would include the groups Awrami , Gurani and Dimili . The areas of the languages mentioned include the region of fahla and also the arsakid Armenia .
Parthian noble families
The seven houses of the Parthians , which exerted great influence on their politics during the reign of the Sassanids, are as follows:
- the house of the Ispahbudhan , from Hyrcania (Gorgan)
- the house of the Varaz , from east Khorasan
- the house of the Karen , from Nahavand and Hyrcania (Gorgan)
- the house of the Mihran , from Rey
- the house of the Spandiyadh , from Rey
- the house of the Zik , from Adurbadagan
- the house of the suras , from Sakastan
In the Parthian Empire
- Arsakes I , (Iran. Araš , also called Aškan ), founder of the Arsakid dynasty.
- Mithridates I. , (Iran. Mehrdad I. ) expanded the Parthian Empire with the conquest of Mediens , Persis , Mesopotamia and parts of the Greco-Bactrian Empire .
- Mithridates II. , (Iran. Mehrdad II. ), The first king of kings (Shahanshah) since the Achaemenids; the Parthian Empire.
- Artabanos IV. , (Iran. Ardawan ), successfully fought the Romans and was overthrown by Ardashir .
In the Sassanid Empire
- Suren Pahlav , a nobleman from the House of Suren, who under the Sassanian King V. Bahram served.
- Bahram Tschobin , a famous Spahbod from the house of the Mihran, who overthrew Chosrau II and became an Uspurator with the king's name Bahram VI. when Shahan Shah ruled the Sassanid Empire for a year. He fought successfully against the Byzantines and was appointed Spahbod of Atropatene and Media. In the east he successfully fought the Gök Turks in the Khorasan region and conquered Balkh and Bukhara .
- Farruch Hormizd , a Spahbod from the house of the Ispahbudhan, who briefly divided the Sassanid Empire into a Parthian ( Pahlawanig ) and Persian ( Parsig ) faction.
- Mihran Bahram-i Chubin , son of Bahram Chobin, from the house of the Mihran, who mobilized Christian Arabs in the battle for Ayn al-Tamr . Little is known about his fate.
- Siyavakhsh , son of Mihran Bahram-i Chubin, an aristocrat from the house of the Mihran, who ended the civil war in the Sassanid Empire by assassinating Farruch Hormizd. He died in the war against Farruchsad and his Arab allies al-Nu'man ibn Muqrin in Rey .
- Farruchsad , an aristocrat from the house of Ispahbudhan, son of Farruch Hormizd; he founded the Bawand dynasty after the Muslim invasion of Tabaristan . After fleeing the Muslim army, he allied himself with the Muslim military leader Al-Nu'man ibn Muqrin and killed Siyavakhsh, who had murdered his father. To set an example, al-Nu'man destroyed the aristocratic district of Rey, but Farrochsad later had it rebuilt.
- Rostam Farrochzād , a nobleman and Spahbod from the house of the Ispahbudhan, who ruled over Atropatene and Khorasan. Together with his father Farruch Hormizd, he rebelled against Chosrau II and belonged to the Parthian ( pahlawanig ) faction. After the civil war in the Sassanid Empire, he played an important role in the fight against the Muslim invaders and died in the battle of al-Qādisīya . Rostam was immortalized as an epic hero in Shahnameh of Firdausi .
- Piruz Nahavandi , (also called Piruzān or 'Abū-Lū'lū'ah by the Arabs ) a soldier from the Parthian city of Nehawend . He was under the command of Rostam Farrochzād. When he was captured, he was held as a slave by Caliph Omar. He succeeded in assassinating the caliph who had led the expansion against the Sassanid Empire. The circumstances of his death are controversial because the person Piruz was heroized by Iranians and Shiites. The most common version is that he tried to escape, stabbed several people in the process and finally killed himself when he couldn't see a way out.
The Parthian language was of great importance in the Sassanid Empire. It was used as the language of the royal court. The Sassanid King Shapur I had his inscription on the Kaʿbe-ye Zartuscht written in Parthian in addition to Middle Persian and Greek. According to Livshits , the Parthian language was used extensively in the Sassanid Empire until the 5th century AD. Rika Gyselen assumes that Parthian lost its position as an imperial language in the 4th and 5th centuries and was thus displaced in common linguistic usage.
The Middle Persian language, which gained in importance towards the end of the Sassanid period, replaced the Parthian court language. Gippert assumes that apart from Imperial Sparth, the language existed in various dialects in the Parthian regions. This also leads to its assumption that the Parthian today in the northwestern Iranian language groups Zaza-Gorani , Kurdish , the Caspian dialects (including Gilaki , Masanderanisch , Semnani, etc.) and the Talischi lives. Hennerbichler is just as convinced that Parthian plays a key role in the elucidation of the Kurdish languages. There are no written documents of ancient Parthian, and texts that have been handed down have only survived since Central Iranian times. Parthian itself has had a strong influence on Middle Persian. According to Gippert, the five language groups mentioned are those that either share the same roots with Parthian or can be traced back directly to Parthian.
- Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis, Sarah Stewart (Eds.): The Age of the Parthians . The British Institute of Persian Studies (BIPS), London 2007.
- Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis: The Parthian and Sasanian Empires - Adaption and Expansion. The British Institute of Persian Studies (BIPS), London 2012
- A. Tafazzoli: BOZORGĀN. In: Encyclopaedia Iranica. Vol. IV, Fasc. 4, p. 427.
- A. Shapur Shahbazi: SASANIAN DYNASTY. In: Encyclopaedia Iranica. online edition, July 2005.
- P. Pourshariati: Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire. The Sasanian-Parthian Confederacy and the Arab Conquest of Iran. IB Tauris, London 2008, ISBN 978-1-84511-645-3 .
- Ferdinand Hennerbichler: The Kurds. Mosonmagyaróvár 2004, ISBN 963-214-575-5 .
- Sahih al-Bukhari: Book of the Virtues of the Companions. Chapter 66.
- VA Livshits, ES Xurshudjan: Le titre mrtpty sur un sceau parthe et l'arménien mardpet. Studia Iranica 18
- SASANIAN DYNASTY. In: Encyclopaedia Iranica. July 2005.
- A. Tafazzoli: BOZORGĀN. In: Encyclopaedia Iranica. Vol. IV, Fasc. 4, p. 427.
- P. Pourshariati: Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire: The Sasanian-Parthian Confederacy and the Arab Conquest of Iran. IB Tauris, London 2008, p. 58.
- M. Ghodrat-Dizaji In: V. Sarkhosh Curtis: The Parthian and Sasanian Empires - adaptation and expansion. The British Institute of Persian Studies (BIPS), 2012, pp. 105–117.
- FAHLAVĪYĀT. In: Encyclopaedia Iranica. Vol. IX, Fasc. 2, pp. 158-162.
- R. Gyselen In: V. Sarkhosh Curtis: The Parthian and Sasanian Empires - adaptation and expansion. The British Institute of Persian Studies (BIPS), 2012, p. 156.
- F. Hennerbichler: The Kurds. Mosonmagyaróvár 2004, p. 205.
- MR Izady In: F. Hennerbichler: The Kurds. Mosonmagyaróvár 2004, p. 205.
- P. Pourshariati: Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire: The Sasanian-Parthian Confederacy and the Arab Conquest of Iran. IB Tauris, London.
- al-Bukhari, Sahih, Chapter 66, Book of the Virtues of the Companions, Hadith Number 3497
- M. Newton: Famous Assassinations in World History: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, p. 585.
- R. Gyselen In: V. Sarkhosh Curtis: The Parthian and Sasanian Empires - adaptation and expansion. The British Institute of Persian Studies (BIPS), 2012, p. 149.
- VA Livshits, ES Xurshudjan: Le titre mrtpty sur un sceau parthe et l'arménien mardpet. Studia Iranica 18, p. 170.
- J. Gippert In: Ware. Pêseroka Zon u Kulturê Ma: Dımıli-Kırmanc-Zaza. 10, 1996, pp. 148-154.
- J. Gippert In: F. Hennerbichler: The Kurds. Mosonmagyaróvár 2004, p. 200.
- J. Gippert In: F. Hennerbichler: The Kurds. Mosonmagyaróvár 2004, p. 166.
- J. Gippert In: F. Hennerbichler: The Kurds. Mosonmagyaróvár 2004, p. 335.