Portal:Sasanian Empire

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The Sasanian Empire Portal

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The Sasanian Empire (/səˈsɑːniən, səˈsniən/), also known as the Sassanian, Sasanid, Sassanid or Neo-Persian Empire (known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr, or Iran, in Middle Persian), was the last kingdom of the Persian Empire before the rise of Islam. Named after the House of Sasan, it ruled from 224 to 651 AD. The Sasanian Empire succeeded the Parthian Empire and was recognised as one of the leading world powers alongside its neighbouring arch-rival the Roman-Byzantine Empire for a period of more than 400 years.

The Sasanian Empire was founded by Ardashir I, after the fall of the Parthian Empire and the defeat of the last Arsacid king, Artabanus V. At its greatest extent, the Sasanian Empire encompassed all of today's Iran, Iraq, Eastern Arabia (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatif, Qatar, UAE), the Levant (Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan), the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan), Egypt, large parts of Turkey, much of Central Asia (Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan), Yemen and Pakistan. According to a legend, the vexilloid of the Sasanian Empire was the Derafsh Kaviani.

The Sasanian Empire during Late Antiquity is considered to have been one of Iran's most important, and influential historical periods and constituted the last great Iranian empire before the Muslim conquest and the adoption of Islam. In many ways, the Sasanian period witnessed the peak of ancient Iranian civilisation. The Sasanians' cultural influence extended far beyond the empire's territorial borders, reaching as far as Western Europe, Africa, China and India. It played a prominent role in the formation of both European and Asian medieval art. Much of what later became known as Islamic culture in art, architecture, music and other subject matter was transferred from the Sasanians throughout the Muslim world.

Selected biography

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Shirin (? – 628 a.d.) (Persian: شيرين‎) was a wife of the Sassanid Persian Shahanshah (king of kings), Khosrau II. In the revolution after the death of Khosrau's father Hormizd IV, the General Bahram Chobin took power over the Persian empire. Shirin fled with Khosrau to Syria where they lived under the protection of Byzantine emperor Maurice. In 591, Khosrau returned to Persia to take control of the empire and Shirin was made queen. She used her new influence to support the Christian minority in Iran, but the political situation demanded that she do so discreetly. Initially she belonged to the Church of the East, the so-called Nestorians, but later she joined the miaphysite church of Antioch, now known as the Syriac Orthodox Church. After conquering Jerusalem in 614, the Persians supposedly captured the cross of Jesus and brought it to their capital Ctesiphon, where Shirin took the cross in her palace.

Long after her death Shrin became an important heroine of Persian literature, as a model of a faithful lover and wife. She appears in the Shahnameh and the romance Khosrow and Shirin by Nizami Ganjavi (1141−1209), and is referred to in very many other works. Her elaborated story in literature bears little or no resemblance to the fairly few known historical facts of her life, although her Christianity and difficulties after the assassination of her husband remain part of the story, as well as Khosrow's exile before he regained his throne. After their first accidental meeting, when Khosrow was initially unaware of her identity, their courtship takes a number of twists and turns, with the pair often apart, that occupy most of the story. After Khosrow's son kills him, he demands that Shirin marry him, which she commits suicide to avoid.

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