Persian Empire

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As the Persian Empire or Persian Empire is ancient empire of the Persians called, the times of Thrace as far as northwestern India and Egypt reached. It existed in different dimensions from about 550 to 330 BC. BC ( Old Persian Empire of the Achaemenids ) and from approx. 224 to 651 AD ( New Persian Empire of the Sassanids ). This name is a foreign name , as the native name has always been a variant of the term Iran .

The following overview looks at the time of the Seleucids as well as the Iranian Parthian Empire of the Arsacids , which ended the Macedonian-Greek rule. In many respects, the Sassanids also leaned on the Parthians , so that, for reasons of understanding, the history of pre-Islamic Persia is treated uniformly in this article.

Today's history is largely dependent on foreign sources, the authors of which the Persians mostly perceived as enemies. The Persian tradition is often very sketchy and - like Babylonian, Armenian, Syrian, Greco-Roman, Arabic and other sources - each has its own problems, although inscriptions such as the inscription from Behistun are also problematic.

Achaemenids (550-330 BC)

Foundation of the Achaemenid Empire

The Persian Empire around 500 BC Chr.

The founder of the Persian empire of the Achaemenids was Cyrus II , but Darius I is considered to be its designer . Cyrus II, who did not call himself an Achaemenid but a Teispide , was born shortly after 560 BC. King of Anshan , a region in the Persis under the sovereignty of the Medes , who exercised a hegemony over this area for about a hundred years . Cyrus II succeeded around 550 BC. To shake off this supremacy. In the years that followed, Cyrus II conquered the Medes Empire and thus laid the foundations for the great Persian Empire, even if the Medes continued to play an important role in the new empire. In the Greek sources the two Iranian peoples are considered as a unit and therefore the Persians are also referred to as Medes.

Burial place of Cyrus II in Pasargadai -Iran

With the victory over the Lydians under Croesus in 541 BC Chr. Was Asia Minor largely under Persian rule, as well as the local Greek city-states. 539 BC Babylonia fell to Cyrus II relatively quickly , as Nabonidus' relationship with the influential local priests had been disturbed and Nabonidus therefore did not find much support in the fight against Cyrus II. With the conquest of Babylonia, Judah also came under Persian control. In the Bible , the Persians as liberators from Babylonian exile are almost the only non-Jewish people who are portrayed as strongly positive.

Darius I and the beginning of the Persian Wars

Dareios I (reign 521–486 BC)

After the death of his successor and son Cambyses II (522 BC), who had incorporated Egypt into the empire and whom many sources describe in the darkest colors, there was a succession crisis. The inscription of Behistun According dipped skimmed named Gaumata on, claiming Bardiya to be believed dead son of Cyrus. Dareios I then defeated the deceiver and ascended the throne. Modern research considers it possible that the report of Darius no longer was in fact the real Bardiya could have been as an attempt at justification for its usurpation of the throne and Gaumata - this theory already circulated in antiquity and is already by Herodotus mentioned, can be but ultimately doesn't prove it.

Darius I, a distant relative of Cyrus II (even if many voices in research today believe that this was just a construction by Darius who apparently even had inscriptions forged in order to make Cyrus an Achaemenid and thus his relative ), completed the shell of the empire by organizing its administration in satrapies , strengthening the economy and adding parts of India and Thrace to the empire. He also built the two most important Achaemenid residences, Susa and Persepolis .

But an event soon came about which was to have serious consequences for Persian history. Around 500 BC A revolt of the Greeks of Asia Minor broke out, probably also because of economic problems and not only because of the events described by Herodotus , which lasted until 494 BC. Lasted and is known as the Ionian Rebellion . The Persians reacted with ventures in the Aegean region, including against the supporters of the rebels, Athens and Eretria. Except for the defeat in the Battle of Marathon , they were successful. This was the beginning of the so-called Persian Wars , about the course of which Herodotus tells us, even if some of his observations are to be treated with caution. The military conflict became a defining element of the relations between the Greek Poleis and the Persian Empire.

The much larger campaign of Xerxes , whereby the figures handed down by Herodotus are completely exaggerated, also failed: In the battle of Salamis 480 BC. And the Battle of Plataea the following year, the outnumbered Persians were defeated again. The 481 BC The Hellenic League , founded in BC , even went over to counterattack and liberated the Greeks of Asia Minor. Persia accepted this loss for the time being, especially since there were enough problems inside, for example the waste movement of peripheral parts of the empire like Egypt, which was of great importance due to the grain supply. In addition, the power of the satraps increased, some of whom repeatedly rehearsed the uprising in the period that followed.

From the Peloponnesian War to the Peace of Kings

It probably came in 449 BC. BC to the so-called Callias Peace - which is, however, controversial in research - which cemented the status quo : The Persian Empire accepted the independence of the members of the Attic-Delian Sea League from Asia Minor and regarded the Aegean as its dominion, for which the Sea League did not take any military action in return undertook against Persia.

But the great Persian king did not give up. In the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC) Darius II supported Sparta , which in return promised to hand over Asia Minor to the Persians. After Sparta's victory, there was conflict and fighting between the recently victorious Sparta and the Persian Empire. Sparta did not succeed in defeating the Persians decisively. The still strong position of the Persian Empire - despite the battle for the throne between Artaxerxes II. And his brother Cyrus (see also Xenophon's famous Anabasis ) - was expressed by the fact that it was the guarantor of the so-called peace of the king (also called the peace of Antalkidas ) in the Years 387/86 BC Occurred. In it the Persian great king Artaxerxes II achieved the final cession of Asia Minor, Cyprus and Klazomenai .

Persia ultimately benefited most from the Peloponnesian War, which had destroyed the balance of power in Greece itself, where there was now a struggle for hegemony between Athens, Sparta and Thebes .

Internal conditions in the Achaemenid Empire

The ruins of Persepolis Shiraz Iran

The fact that Persia did not take full force against the Greeks during the Persian Wars was due, among other things, to the fact that there were always unrest inside the empire, such as battles for the throne, uprisings of the defeated peoples (especially in Egypt) and uprisings of individual satraps . In addition, the Persian Empire, like almost all empires and states on the soil of today's Iran, had to defend itself against the threat to the steppe peoples on the northeast border until modern times. Nevertheless, the Achaemenid Persian Empire had enormous financial power, which was particularly evident in the Peloponnesian War , when Persian subsidies decided the war in favor of Sparta and Persia once again emerged as a leading power.

Relations between the Persian Empire and the Greeks were not just of a warlike nature. Rather, there was also a complex cultural exchange. Greek mercenaries, along with the bodyguard, were the only useful part of the huge but relatively ineffective Persian army that was established in the 4th century BC. Chr. Lost power. In addition, Greek scholars worked in Persia, such as the doctor Ktesias of Knidos . Ktesias and other Greeks even wrote historical works that explicitly had the Persian Empire as their subject ( Persika ). The Persian influence on Greek culture was less, but still there (for example the idea of ​​a divine dualism ), just as the Greeks were generally receptive to impulses from the Orient (influence on Greek literature since Homer ).

In the religious area, many questions are unanswered: Under the Achaemenids, the religion founded by Zarathustra (see Zarathustrism ) was in any case not elevated to the status of state religion. Rather, it is unclear in what way the ancient Persian sages were worshiped during this period. The King of Kings was by no means venerated as a god-king, but was nevertheless in a special relationship to Ahura Mazda (divine right) and was completely removed from the common subjects. This partly explains why the gesture of adoration (see Proskynesis ) was interpreted by the Greeks in this context as a sign of an oriental despotism, which was contrary to the Greek ideals of freedom.

The great king displayed his wealth openly (as in large palace buildings such as Persepolis), with Greek authors who were more familiar with the conditions there (such as Ktesias, Herakleides of Kyme or Dinon of Colophon ), repeated the splendor of the Persian royal court highlighted. The great kings resided not only in Persepolis, but also in Susa , Ekbatana and Babylon . They ruled with the help of a tightly organized and apparently quite efficient bureaucracy (service nobility, see also Chiliarch ), but nothing is known about a further gradation below the satrapies . The Aramaic served as a lingua franca , next to Old Persian, Elamite Altbabylonisch and was used as an official language. The Achaemenids were religiously tolerant, which was also a means of securing power in the conquered areas.

Alexander the Great and the end of the Achaemenid Empire

The Alexanderzug

Artaxerxes III. was the last important great king of the Achaemenids. He succeeded in subjugating the renegade Egypt, which had broken away from the empire decades before, but began after his death in 336 BC. The fall of Achaemenid Persia. The Macedonian king Alexander the Great conquered from 334 BC. The Persian empire. This still represented an intact empire. Alexander's combat tactics and the well-trained Macedonian army were the decisive factors for the quick conquest. The last Achaemenid, Darius III. , was beaten several times and finally 330 BC Murdered by his subordinates. Alexander then advanced as far as India before he was forced to turn back. The idea of ​​world power lived on despite the fall of the Achaemenid Empire, first with Alexander, then with his successors in Persia, the Seleucids .

Seleucids (305–129 BC)

Map of the Orient in antiquity

After the death of Alexander the so-called Diadoch Wars broke out . One of Alexander's companions, Seleukos I. During the Hellenism, however, Iran was only partially and incompletely under the control of the Seleucids . On the one hand, this was due to the size of the area and, on the other hand, the small number of Greeks and Macedonians who had to control this region. The first Seleucids preferred Macedonians and Greeks, but tried to create a modus vivendi with the natives. This equalization policy was initially quite successful. In addition, the Seleucids also pursued a targeted urbanization policy, especially in Syria , Mesopotamia and Bactria as well as along important traffic routes (see, for example, Apamea , Antioch , Seleukia or Ai Khanoum ).

The first signs of decay occurred with the fall of Bactria (approx. 256 or 240 BC; the chronology is very uncertain). The Seleucids limited their rule to the western part of what is now Iran as well as Mesopotamia, Syria and Asia Minor. In the east, the Parthians entered this power vacuum . Took possession of the northeast of Iran. Antiochus III. tried to force these regions back under the suzerainty of the central government through his famous anabasis (German: "up march"; what is meant is a campaign in the upper satrapies , which lasted from about 212 to 205/04 BC) however, ultimately settle for a formal supremacy.

In the next decades (188–140 BC) the Seleucids lost almost all of their eastern territories due to the internal disintegration of their state and strong engagement in the west against the Roman Empire and its allies. Antiochus VII once more vigorously opposed the Parthians, but after initial successes he fell in 129 BC. In the fight against them. With the subsequent final loss of Mesopotamia, the eastern capital of the Seleucids, Seleucea on the Tigris , was also lost to the Parthians, with the result that the Seleucids were limited to their western edge possessions with the center in present-day Syria.

Arsacids (approx. 240 BC – 224 AD)

The (non-Persian, but Iranian) Parthian rulers of the Arsacids gradually conquered a region that is roughly congruent with modern Iraq and Iran during the slow process of decay of the Seleucid Empire . Under Mithridates I (171-139 / 38 BC) they occupied 141 BC. Chr. Mesopotamia , while the Seleucids limited to the far west of their former giant empire, and conquered the east parts of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom . Even if the Parthian Empire continued to be exposed to attacks by the Central Asian steppe peoples (including the Kushan ) and was active in western Rome , the Parthians were able to hold their own. The Parthian Empire soon formed the link between the Roman Empire in the west and Central Asia and China in the east.

Approximate extent of the Parthian Empire

Especially with Rome, the fighting did not break off since the 50s of the 1st century BC. Armenia was and remained a point of contention, and under Pompeius the Romans became after the establishment of the province of Syria in 64/63 BC. To direct neighbors of the Parthians. These fights were very changeable. For example, the Parthians won the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC. Over a Roman army (the captured standards were returned to the first Roman emperor Augustus by King Phraates IV in 20 BC ). Even if the Romans succeeded in invading the empire several times - the de facto capital Seleukeia-Ctesiphon (near today's Baghdad) was repeatedly besieged or conquered - they were never able to take permanent possession of this area, so that their invasions remained an episode. This applies both to the conquests of Trajan (from 114 onwards, Roman troops had gradually brought large parts of the western Parthian Empire in Mesopotamia under control and also conquered Ctesiphon), which Hadrian had to give up again, as well as to the overall successful battles of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (162-166). The fighting did not stop even in the Severan period (see for example Septimius Severus and Caracalla ). Above all, the Parthian army, which consisted mainly of mounted archers and armored riders, proved its worth in the conflicts against Rome.

Internally, the Parthians were very open to Greek culture and generally seem to have been relatively tolerant - albeit within limits. Numerous elements of Hellenistic rule determined life at the Parthian court, even if the Iranian influence increased again after the turn of the century (see also Parthian art ). The nobility had relatively great freedom vis-à-vis the king. Indeed, there were sub-kings, but at first these did not endanger the entire existence of the state, which was generally very loosely structured, although the internal struggles in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD undoubtedly further weakened the power of the kingship; this weakness was probably what made Trajan's quick conquest possible.

The end for the Arsacids came from within the empire: The last Arsacid, Artabanos IV (according to another count, Artabanos V), was defeated by the sub-king of Persis , Ardaschir I , in the year 224 AD at the battle of Hurmuzgan killed. Soon after, the Arsacid rule collapsed and a new dynasty took over the rule of the empire: the Sassanids , who renewed the empire and became a more deadly opponent of Rome than the Parthians ever were.

Sassanids (224-651)

The resurgence of Persia under the Sassanids

The Sassanids (etymologically more correct: Sasanids ) conquered the Parthian area within a few years - only in Armenia the Arsacids were able to hold on to power with Roman support until 428 - and in some cases even advanced. The conflicts of this New Persian Empire with Rome or Eastern Rome were to have a decisive influence on the history of the entire late antiquity (see Roman-Persian Wars ).

With the beginning of the rule of the Sassanids, the Greek element was largely pushed back (a tendency that had already started under the Parthians after the turn of the century), and the supposedly traditional Iranian values ​​were emphasized: Only now was the "idea of ​​Iran" (G. Gnoli ), while the Arsacids were now disqualified as foreign rulers. Several Parthian noble families, however, were able to come to terms with the Sassanids and retained their influence. The new dynasty was also looking for religious legitimation - Zoroastrianism was therefore more influential than ever before, even if one cannot speak of a "state religion" in the actual sense, because other cults (mostly Christianity) were also used until the end. tolerated. In particular, the repeatedly formulated claim of the Sassanid great kings to be king of the kings of Ērān and Anerān (whereby this does not mean the current state of Iran , but the entire area inhabited by Iranians ), reinforced the ambitious plans.

Perhaps the Sassanids saw themselves as the successors of the Achaemenids (of whom they must have known almost nothing and of whom they only vaguely referred to as "ancestors") and continued their expansive policy: the aim was possibly to push the limits of the to restore the old Persian empire - but in fact it was probably only about the expulsion of the Romans from Armenia and Mesopotamia . Even under Shapur I , the Romans suffered some serious defeats. Ultimately, however, Rome was able to assert itself and even annex areas in Mesopotamia under Diocletian .

The Roman-Persian relationship - between confrontation and coexistence

The conflict between these two ancient great powers initially intensified, but over time there was also a remarkable change: The Romans accepted the Sassanids as virtually equal. For them these Persians were no longer barbarians like the Germanic peoples , but a civilized, almost equally strong, almost equal power. The Parthians had never been seen like this by the Romans. The Sassanids also saw the Romans in a similar light, which is made clear by the addresses in traditional letters (address of brothers, etc.). By the 6th century , a sophisticated diplomatic protocol had been developed that had to be observed in (Eastern) Roman-Persian contacts. For example, it became customary to officially announce changes to the throne in one's own kingdom.

Nevertheless, the fighting did not break off in the 4th century. The important Great King Shapur II waged a lengthy war against the Romans, for which we have a detailed report by the historian Ammianus Marcellinus . When the Roman emperor Julian fell on a campaign against the Persians in 363, Shapur II forced his successor Jovian to a peace that was unfavorable for the Romans : the Mesopotamian areas around Nisibis , which the Romans had conquered under Diocletian in 298, fell back to the Persians. Internally, Shapur II initiated a long-term, politically motivated persecution of Christians .

Probably 387 (the date is disputed in research) Shapur III closed. and the Roman emperor Theodosius I signed a treaty: the old bone of contention Armenia was divided, the Sassanids received four fifths of the land (see Persarmenia ). From this point on, the fights became significantly less frequent for decades: apart from two short wars under Theodosius II , there was peace between the two great powers from 387 to 502.

During this time the Romans were concerned with the consequences of the so-called migration of peoples , while the Sassanids were tied to the north-eastern border with Central Asia in late antiquity . There, in the middle of the 4th century (beginning with the Chionites , the Kidarites and later the Hephthalites ), nomadic tribes appeared in several waves, which are known in research as the Iranian Huns and proved to be stubborn opponents of the Persians. King Peroz I (465–484) suffered several defeats against the Hephthalites, of which he did not survive the last.

Mazdakite movement and the time of Chosraus I Anuzhirvan - the climax of Sassanid history

This also resulted in internal crises and serious disputes. The powerful aristocracy apparently tried to expand their rights at the king's expense, but he was resolutely opposed by King Kavadh I , who has since been ousted but regained the throne in 499. In doing so, he probably promoted the Mazdakites , who were probably a religious-social revolutionary movement of the lower classes. However, these proved to be a no less major problem. It was not until the important Great King Chosrau I , the great opponent of the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian , that the movement was crushed and the power of the nobility was limited.

Under Khosrau I (called Anuschirvan , "with the immortal soul"), who is said to have carried out far-reaching reforms, the Sassanid Empire reached its climax. It was able to assert itself against the Eastern Roman Empire in an intermittently waged war (whereby Chosrau benefited from the fact that Eastern Rome was bound by Justinian's restoration policy in the west); For this period there is a detailed account of the historian Prokopios of Caesarea , then Agathias , Menander Protektor and finally Theophylactus Simokates described the period up to around 602.

In 532, the two great powers concluded an " eternal peace ", which of course only lasted a few years. As early as 540, Chosrau invaded Syria, taking advantage of Justinian's involvement in the western Mediterranean. The following years were marked by changeable fighting between Eastern and Persia before a peace treaty was reached in 562. Chosrau also managed to secure the border against the steppe peoples (the empire of the Hephthalites was smashed with the help of the Turks around 560), culturally this was the most important phase of Sassanid Persia, in some respects of ancient Persia at all. In 572, however, war broke out again when the Romans and Turks attacked Persia together, but Chosrau was able to overcome the military crisis; but the war was only ended in 591, after the death of Chosraus I. The memory of Chosraus remained alive in the Orient for a very long time, where he was regarded as the ideal, just king (see, for example, the representation in the annals of Tabari , who could fall back on Sassanid sources) - sometimes very much in contrast to the descriptions in the western ones Sources.

The Sassanid Empire and the Mediterranean around the time of Chosraus I (approx. 550 AD)

Last climax and decline - from Chosrau II to the Islamic expansion

Chosrau's successors could not maintain this condition. His son Hormizd IV was overthrown and murdered in 590, and his son Chosrau II was expelled a few weeks later, but reinstated in 591 with Eastern Roman support. He thanked the Romans badly. After the death of the emperor Maurikios , who was murdered during civil unrest, Chosrau II rose to his avenger, and in 603 the last and greatest Roman-Persian war broke out . By 619 Syria and Egypt had fallen, and the Sassanids began to administratively incorporate the conquered territories into the empire. The old Achaemenid Empire seemed to have risen again. Chosrau's Christian wife Shirin († 628; see also Nezāmi's epic Chosrau and Shirin ) favored the Christians and allegedly received the cross relic after the conquest of Jerusalem. However, she was unable to get her son Merdanschah to succeed. Towards the end of the reign of Chosraus, Emperor Herakleios achieved the almost unbelievable: Despite the tense situation, he led a successful campaign against the Sassanids, who were defeated in the battle of Nineveh in December 627. At the same time the emperor was able to persuade the Turks to invade eastern Iran for their part and to involve the Sassanids in a two-front war. In contrast to 572, the plan worked out: Chosrau II, who had responded to the news of the defeat at Nineveh by fleeing, but did not want to break off the war with Eastern Europe, was joined by the nobility at the beginning of 628, who saw the main danger from the Turks , deposed and killed soon after, while Ostrom got the lost territories back (629/30). However, the Sassanid Empire was soon completely bled to death by the long wars and the ensuing civil war with constantly changing rulers (and ultimately female rulers). Only Yazdegerd III. from the end of 632 was firmly on the throne again, but he had no more opportunity to consolidate the empire again.

The Muslim Arabs therefore had a relatively easy game in their war of conquest against the two weakened great powers of late antiquity (see Islamic expansion ). In 634 the Persians were able to fend them off in the battle at the bridge , but then the Muslims conquered not only the Roman eastern provinces in a relatively short time, but also Mesopotamia after the Persian defeat in the battle of Kadesia in what is now southern Iraq (around 637) . In 642 they destroyed the last Sassanid army in the battle of Nehawend . Yazdegerd III. was killed in 651 near Merw in northeastern Iran. Attempts by his son Peroz to regain the throne with Chinese help were unsuccessful. The last ancient oriental , pre-Islamic empire had set it - and with it ended a major chapter of ancient history, even if just the Sassanian traditions partly the inspiration for the later Caliphate of the Abbasids in Baghdad stood. The population of Iran was gradually Islamized in the following period, although the Zoroastrians were a significant minority for a long time. However, the Persians were able to preserve their language and culture to this day.


In the articles Achaemenid Empire , Parthian Empire and Sassanid Empire there are brief references to the sources; Otherwise see the respective bibliographies in the listed works. Reference should also be made to the literature listed in the respective cross-references. The Bibliographia Iranica offers current bibliographical references .

General representations of ancient Persia
  • The Cambridge History of Iran. Various editors. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge 1968 ff.
    [Important overall presentation of history, but also of culture and society. Volumes 1–3 are relevant for the period mentioned.]
  • Edinburgh Studies in Ancient Persia . Edinburgh 2014ff. [current special literature on important research topics of ancient Persia]
  • Maria Brosius: The Persians. An Introduction (= Peoples of the Ancient World) . Routledge, London and New York 2006, ISBN 978-0-415-32089-4 .
    [Introduction, but not entirely flawless in some detailed questions]
  • Touraj Daryee (Ed.): King of the Seven Climes. A History of the Ancient Iranian World (3000 BCE-651 CE). UCI Jordan Center for Persian Studies, Irvine (CA) 2017, ISBN 978-0-692-86440-1 .
    [current overview]
  • Touraj Daryaee (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2012.
  • Richard Nelson Frye : The History of Ancient Iran. C. H. Beck, Munich 1984 (Handbuch der Altertumswwissenschaft, 3rd section, T. 7), ISBN 3-406-09397-3 .
    [important, but partly outdated overview work]
  • Richard Nelson Frye: Persia. Until the onset of Islam. Kindler, Munich / Zurich 1962.
  • Josef Wiesehöfer : The early Persia. History of an ancient world empire. 2nd Edition. C. H. Beck, Munich 2002 (C. H. Beck Wissen), ISBN 3-406-43307-3 .
    [very brief introduction]
  • Josef Wiesehöfer: Ancient Persia. From 550 BC BC to AD 650 3rd edition. Albatros, Düsseldorf 2005, ISBN 3-491-96151-3 .
    [The German-language standard work on pre-Islamic Persia. With a useful bibliographic essay.]
  • Ehsan Yarshater (Ed.): Encyclopædia Iranica . Routledge & Paul, London 1985 ff. (Not yet completed)
Achaemenid Empire
  • Historical Museum of the Palatinate Speyer (Ed.): The Persian Empire. Splendor and splendor of the great kings . Theiss, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 978-3-8062-2041-4 . [Exhibition catalog on the Achaemenid Empire]
  • Pierre Briant : Histoire de l'empire perse. De Cyrus à Alexandre. Fayard, Paris 1996, ISBN 2-213-59667-0 . (Also available in English translation: From Cyrus to Alexander. A history of the Persian Empire. Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake 2002, ISBN 1-57506-031-0 .)
    [Comprehensive standard work on the Achaemenid period]
  • John M. Cook: The Persian Empire. JM Dent & Sons, London et al. 1983.
    [easy to read overview, but partly outdated]
  • John Curtis, St. John Simpson (Ed.): The World of Achaemenid Persia. The Diversity of Ancient Iran. IB Tauris, London / New York 2010.
  • Matt Waters: Ancient Persia. A Concise History of the Achaemenid Empire, 550-330 BCE. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2014, ISBN 978-0-521-25369-7 .
    [current overview]
  • Josef Wiesehöfer: "Rulers by the Grace of God", "Liar Kings", and "Oriental Despots": (Anti-) Monarchic Discourse in Achaemenid Iran. In: Henning Börm (Ed.): Antimonarchic Discourse in Antiquity . Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2015, p. 45 ff.
    [Current overview of the Achaemenid monarchy]
  • Stefan R. Hauser : The Arsacid (Parthian) Empire . In: Daniel T. Potts (Ed.): A Companion to the Archeology of the Ancient Near East. Oxford 2012, pp. 1001-1020.
    [current overview]
  • Charlotte Lerouge: L'image des Parthes dans le monde gréco-romain. You début du Ier siècle av. J.-C. jusqu'à la fin du Haut-Empire romain. Stuttgart 2007.
  • André Verstandig: Histoire de l'Empire parthe. Bruxelles 2001.
  • Karl-Heinz Ziegler : Relations between Rome and the Parthian Empire. Steiner, Wiesbaden 1964.
  • Michael Bonner: The Last Empire of Iran. Gorgias Press, Piscataway 2020.
    [current and quite comprehensive overview]
  • Henning Börm : Prokop and the Persians. Investigations into the Roman-Sasanid contacts in late antiquity. Franz Steiner, Stuttgart 2007.
  • Matthew P. Canepa: The Two Eyes of the Earth. Art and Ritual of Kingship between Rome and Sasanian Iran . University of California Press, Berkeley 2009.
  • Touraj Daryaee: Sasanian Persia. The Rise and Fall of an Empire. IB Tauris, London 2009.
    [introductory overview]
  • Touraj Daryaee: Sasanian Iran 224-651 CE. Portrait of a Late Antique Empire. Mazda Pub., Costa Mesa (Calif.) 2008. [Review of Political History]
  • James Howard-Johnston : East Rome, Sasanian Persia and the End of Antiquity: Historiographical and Historical Studies (Collected Studies). Aldershot 2006, ISBN 0-86078-992-6 .
  • Khodadad Rezakhani: ReOrienting the Sasanians. East Iran in Late Antiquity. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh 2017.
  • Eberhard Sauer (Ed.): Sasanian Persia. Between Rome and the Steppes of Eurasia. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh 2017.
  • Klaus Schippmann : Basic features of the history of the Sassanid Empire . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1990, ISBN 3-534-07826-8 .
  • Engelbert Winter , Beate Dignas: Rome and the Persian Empire. Two world powers between confrontation and coexistence. Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2001.

Web links


  1. See also Mary Boyce : Achaemenid Religion. In: Encyclopaedia Iranica 1 (1985), 426-429.
  2. See also Sonja Plischke: Die Seleukiden und Iran. The Seleucid domination policy in the eastern satrapies. Wiesbaden 2014.
  3. Werner Widmer: Hellas am Hindukusch. Greek culture in the far east of the ancient world. Frankfurt am Main 2015.
  4. Cf. still Karl-Heinz Ziegler, Relations between Rome and the Parthian Empire , Wiesbaden 1964.
  5. Michael Alram et al. a. (Ed.): The face of the stranger. The coinage of the Huns and Western Turks in Central Asia and India. Vienna 2016; Khodadad Rezakhani: ReOrienting the Sasanians. East Iran in Late Antiquity. Edinburgh 2017.

Coordinates: 30 °  N , 53 °  E