Portal:Sasanian Empire

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The Sasanian Empire Portal

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The Sasanian Empire (/səˈsɑːnɪən/ or /səˈsnɪən/; also known as Sassanian, Sasanid, or Sassanid) or Neo-Persian Empire, known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran, was the last Iranian empire before the rise of Islam, ruled by the Sasanian dynasty from 224 CE to 651 CE. The Sassanid Empire, which succeeded the Parthian Empire, was recognized as one of the main powers in the world, alongside the neighboring Roman–Byzantine Empire, for a period of more than 400 years.

The Sasanian Empire was founded by Ardashir I, after the fall of the Arsacid Empire and the defeat of the last Arsacid king, Artabanus V. At its greatest extent, the Sassanid Empire encompassed all of today's Iran, Iraq, the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Israel), the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Abkhazia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan), Egypt, parts of Turkey, much of Central Asia (Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan), the Persian Gulf countries, Yemen, Oman and Pakistan. According to a legend, the vexilloid of the Sassanid Empire was the Derafsh Kaviani. It was also hypothesized that the transition toward the Sassanid Empire represents the end of struggle of ethnic proto-Persians with their close migrant ethnic relatives, the Parthians, whose original homeland was in modern-day Central Asia.

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 Sassanid period witnessed the peak of ancient Iranian civilisation. Persia influenced Roman civilisation considerably during the Sassanid period. The Sassanids' 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 architecture, poetry and other subject matter was transferred from the Sassanids throughout the Muslim world. Even after the fall of the Sasanian empire it remained the ideal model of organization, splendor, and justice in Perso-Arab tradition; and its bureaucracy and royal ideology were imitated by successor states, especially the Abbasid, Ottoman, and Safavid empires.

Selected biography

Nizami - Khusraw discovers Shirin bathing in a pool.jpg

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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Head horse Kerman Louvre MAO132.jpg

Photo credit: Jastrow

Horse head, gilded silver, 4th century, Sassanid art.

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