Home Seshat Region: Iran (Southwest Asia)
Parthian Empire I
D G SC WF HS CC PT
EQ 2020  ir_parthian_emp_1 / IrPart1

The first ruler of the Parthian dynasty was Arsaces who lived at about 240 BCE [1] but the founder of the Parthian Empire (171 BCE - 40 CE period) was Mithridates I, who initiated the Parthian conquest of Persia and Babylonia from the Seleucids. [2] The Parthians were essentially "a military aristocracy" [3] that ruled the many different peoples (e.g. Persians, Greeks, Jews, Babylonians) who lived in Persia and Babylonia.
Parchments and ostra found at Dura-Europas show the Parthians had "an extensive and developed bureaucracy". [4] The Parthians, who were originally a nomadic tribe (the Parni) from northeastern Iran [4] , conquered Seleucid territory that already possessed municipal, provincial (satrapal) and central government. The Parthians had some centralized institutions but these were not based at a capital city but "moved from city to city along with their administration." [5]
The Parthian nobility was inserted into the regional governance structures they inherited [6] as satraps appointed by the king, while much of the rest of the territory consisted of directly granted personal fiefs [7] or vassal kingdoms. [8] In terms of central government the Parthian Arsacids retained the Achaemenid model (as had the Seleucids) which had departments called diwans "responsible for record-keeping, communication, budgeting, and taxation." The departments were run by individuals called dibirs who were themselves responsible to a first-minister. [5]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Neusner 2008, 16) JAcob Neusner. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.

[2]: (Neusner 2008, 16) Jacob Neusner. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.

[3]: (Dabrowa 2012, 180) Edward Dabrowa. The Arcasid Empire. in Daryaee, Touraj ed. 2012. The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History. Oxford University Press.

[4]: (Koshelenko and Pilipko 1999, 146) G A Koshelenko. V N Pilipko. in Ahmad Hasan Dani. 1999. History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. Motilal Banarsidass Publ.

[5]: Khodadad Rezakhani. 2016. Arsacid Society and Culture. Accessed 06.09.2016: https://iranologie.com/the-history-page/the-arsacid-empire/arsacid-society-and-culture/

[6]: (Neusner 2008, 18) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.

[7]: (Neusner 2008, 18) Jacob Neusner. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.

[8]: (Koshelenko and Pilipko 1994, 141) G A Koshelenko. V N Pilipko. Parthia. in Janos Harmatta. B N Puri. G F Etemadi. eds. 1994. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizatins 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. UNESCO Publishing.

General Variables
Identity and Location
  Utm Zone:
40 S  
  Original Name:
Parthian Empire I  
  Capital:
Nisa  
Hekatompylos  
Rhagae  
Ectatana  
Ctesiphon  
  Alternative Name:
Arsacid Empire  
Parthia  
Parthians  
Arsacid Kingdom  
Temporal Bounds
  Peak Years:
120 BCE  
  Duration:
[247 BCE ➜ 40 CE]  
Political and Cultural Relations
  Suprapolity Relations:
alliance  
  Supracultural Entity:
Greco-Bactrian  
  Succeeding Entity:
Parthian Empire II  
  Scale of Supracultural Interaction:
[3,500,000 to 4,000,000] km2  
  Relationship to Preceding Entity:
elite migration  
  Preceding Entity:
Confederacy of the Dahae  
  Degree of Centralization:
confederated state  
Language
  Linguistic Family:
Indo-European  
  Language:
Greek  
Pahlavi  
Religion
  Alternate Religion:
NO_VALUE_ON_WIKI  
Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
300,000 people 100 BCE
[400,000 to 600,000] people 1 CE
Polity Territory:
280,000 km2 200 BCE
2,000,000 km2 100 BCE
3,000,000 km2 1 CE
Polity Population:
[50,000 to 100,000] people 200 BCE
5,450,000 people 100 BCE
7,500,000 people 1 CE
25,000,000 people 1 CE
15,000,000 people 1 CE
Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
[4 to 5]  
Religious Level:
3  
Military Level:
6  
Administrative Level:
[5 to 6]  
Professions
Professional Soldier:
present  
absent  
Professional Priesthood:
present  
Professional Military Officer:
inferred absent  
Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
present  
Merit Promotion:
absent  
Full Time Bureaucrat:
present  
Examination System:
absent  
Law
Professional Lawyer:
unknown  
Judge:
present  
Formal Legal Code:
unknown  
Court:
present  
Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
present  
Irrigation System:
present  
Food Storage Site:
present  
Drinking Water Supply System:
inferred present  
Transport Infrastructure
Road:
present  
Port:
present  
Canal:
present  
Bridge:
present  
Special-purpose Sites
Mines or Quarry:
present  
Information / Writing System
Written Record:
present  
Script:
present  
Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
present  
Nonwritten Record:
unknown  
Non Phonetic Writing:
absent  
Mnemonic Device:
unknown  
Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
present  
Sacred Text:
present  
Religious Literature:
present  
Practical Literature:
present  
Philosophy:
present  
Lists Tables and Classification:
present  
History:
present  
Fiction:
inferred present  
Calendar:
present  
Information / Money
Token:
unknown  
Precious Metal:
inferred present  
Paper Currency:
absent  
Indigenous Coin:
present  
Article:
present  
Information / Postal System
Postal Station:
present  
General Postal Service:
inferred absent  
Courier:
present  
Information / Measurement System
Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
  Wooden Palisade:
inferred present  
  Stone Walls Non Mortared:
inferred absent  
  Stone Walls Mortared:
present  
  Settlements in a Defensive Position:
inferred present  
  Modern Fortification:
absent  
  Moat:
present  
  Fortified Camp:
inferred absent  
  Earth Rampart:
present  
  Ditch:
present  
  Complex Fortification:
present  
Military use of Metals
  Steel:
present  
absent  
  Iron:
present  
  Copper:
present  
  Bronze:
present  
Projectiles
  Tension Siege Engine:
inferred absent  
  Sling Siege Engine:
absent  
  Sling:
inferred present  
  Self Bow:
inferred absent  
  Javelin:
inferred present  
  Handheld Firearm:
absent  
  Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
absent  
  Crossbow:
unknown  
  Composite Bow:
present  
  Atlatl:
absent  
Handheld weapons
  War Club:
present  
  Sword:
present  
  Spear:
present  
  Polearm:
inferred present  
  Dagger:
present  
  Battle Axe:
present  
Animals used in warfare
  Horse:
present  
  Elephant:
absent  
  Donkey:
inferred present  
  Dog:
inferred absent  
  Camel:
present  
Armor
  Wood Bark Etc:
inferred present  
  Shield:
present  
  Scaled Armor:
present  
  Plate Armor:
present  
  Limb Protection:
present  
  Leather Cloth:
present  
  Laminar Armor:
inferred present  
  Helmet:
present  
  Chainmail:
present  
  Breastplate:
present  
Naval technology
  Specialized Military Vessel:
present  
  Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
unknown  
  Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
unknown  
Religion Tolerance Nothing coded yet.
Human Sacrifice Nothing coded yet.
Crisis Consequences Nothing coded yet.
Power Transitions Nothing coded yet.

NGA Settlements:

Year Range Parthian Empire I (ir_parthian_emp_1) was in:
 (143 BCE 95 BCE)   Southern Mesopotamia     Susiana
 (95 BCE 21 CE)   Southern Mesopotamia     Susiana     Kachi Plain
 (21 CE 24 CE)   Southern Mesopotamia     Susiana
 (24 CE 40 CE)   Southern Mesopotamia
Home NGA: Susiana

General Variables
Identity and Location
Parthian Empire I

DESCRIPTION 1 "The Parthians were originally a nomadic tribe, the Parni, settled in Parthia, and gradually they came to be called by the name of the territory." [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Neusner 2008, 15-16) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.


Nisa Hekatompylos Rhagae Ectatana Ctesiphon

DESCRIPTION 1 Asaak (Astauene) established by Arsaces I. New Nisa up to first century BCE. "At later stages, the functions of a capital city were also served by Hecatompylos, Ecbatana, Rhagae, Babylon, and Ctesiphon." [1]
near Ashkhabad. [2]
Parthian capital referred to as Hekatompylos in Chinese records. "The first capital of the Parthians was Nisa in the province of Parthia. In about 217 BCE, the Parthian capital was moved to Hekatompylos, which remained as the main capital of the Parthian empire till c. 50 BCE ... During that period, Rhagae (Rayy), Ecbatana, and Ctesiphon near the river Tigris were also selected as capitals." [3]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Dabrowa 2012, 180) Dabrowa, Edward. The Arcasid Empire. in Daryaee, Touraj ed. 2012. The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History. Oxford University Press.

[2]: Neil Asher Silberman (ed.), ‘The Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian Periods’, The Oxford Companion to Archaeology, 2nd ed (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)

[3]: (Tao 2007) Tao, Wang in Josef in Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh and Stewart, Sarah eds. 2007. The Age of the Parthians. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. London.


Arsacid Empire Parthia Parthians Arsacid Kingdom

DESCRIPTION 1 [1] Arsacid kingdom. [2] Arsacid empire. [3]

Reference(s):

[1]: Neil Asher Silberman (ed.), ‘The Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian Periods’, The Oxford Companion to Archaeology, 2nd ed (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)

[2]: (Bivar 2007) Bivar, A D H in Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh and Stewart, Sarah eds. 2007. The Age of the Parthians. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. London.

[3]: (Wiesehöfer 2007) Wiesehöfer, Josef in Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh and Stewart, Sarah eds. 2007. The Age of the Parthians. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. London.


Temporal Bounds
120 BCE

DESCRIPTION 1 "The first Parthian ruler, Arsaces, established the dynasty approximately 240 b.c.e. ... The real founder of the Parthian empire was Mithridates I, who ascended the throne in 171. He conquered western Iran, reaching Media in 155 and Seleucia in 141. ... the Parthians definitely established their hold on Babylonia by the time of Mithridates II, ca. 120 b.c.e. and held it until ca. 226 c.e., with brief intervals of Roman occupation." [1]
Period when the empire expanded under Mithridates I. [2] "The geographical expansion of Parthia and the political consolidation of the early Parthian kingdom is associated with Mithradates (Mihrdad) I (c. 171-138 BCE)." [3]
"Few rulers in Arsacid history were as distinguished as Mithradates I. During his reign, the Parthian state was transformed from an insignificant political center to a vast and mighty empire. The transformation was the fruit of his large-scale policy of expansion." [4] also known as Mithradates I the Great who reigned c171-132 BCE.

Reference(s):

[1]: (Neusner 2008, 16) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.

[2]: Ted Kaizer, ‘The Parthian and Early Sasanian Empires c.247 BC - AD 300’, in Thomas Harrison (ed.), The Great Empires of the Ancient World (London: Thames & Hudson, 2009), 174-195.

[3]: (Curtis 2007) Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh and Stewart, Sarah eds. 2007. The Age of the Parthians. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. London.

[4]: (Dabrowa 2012, 169) Dabrowa, Edward. The Arcasid Empire. in Daryaee, Touraj ed. 2012. The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History. Oxford University Press.


[247 BCE ➜ 40 CE]

DESCRIPTION 1 In the absence of surviving written documents, chronology of Parthian rulers is based on coinage. [1]
Start: 247 BCE
"Arsaces, of Scythian or Bactrian origin, was elected leader of the Parni tribes in 247 BCE. This date marks the beginning of the Arsacid era." [2]
"Less than ten years after the rebellion of Andragoras against the Seleucids, in 238 BCE, Arsaces and his brother Tiridates invaded the satrapy of Parthia, killed Andragoras and established control over this province." [2]
It is believed to be the start of the Parthian’s revolt against the Seleucids, as well as the coronation of the second Parthina king, Tiridates I. As such it can been seen as the end of Selucid authority in the province. [3]
End 226 CE
Parthians fought three battles against the Sassanians and lost each one. Reign of the last Parthian king Artabanus IV ends; Sasanian rule begins. [4]
Although Ardashir took the Parthian capital, Ctesiphon, and probably with it the title ’King of Kings’, in 226 CE the Parthian king Vologases VI minted coins in his hame at least to 228 CE. [5]
Periodization c240-172 BCE; 171 BCE - 40 CE; 40 - 226 CE.
240-172 BCE (pre-Imperial, Seleucid Empire period)
"The first Parthian ruler, Arsaces, established the dynasty approximately 240 b.c.e. ..." [6]
171 BCE - 40 CE (Empire period)
"... The real founder of the Parthian empire was Mithridates I, who ascended the throne in 171. He conquered western Iran, reaching Media in 155 and Seleucia in 141. ... the Parthians definitely established their hold on Babylonia by the time of Mithridates II, ca. 120 b.c.e. and held it until ca. 226 c.e., with brief intervals of Roman occupation." [6]
"Mithradates I ... one of the first powerful Parthian monarchs, attacked Demetrius, the Seleucid ruler ... Mithradates conquered Susa and its hinterlands shortly before 140 B.C. and installed a Parthian administration that probably survived for most of the next century. We know that by A.D. 21 Susa was under Parthian control, for in a letter of this date, written in Greek, Artabanus III, the Parthian sovereign, validated a contested election at Susa." [7]
1st century BCE: "from then the first open conflicts occurred between Parthian rulers and aristocrats." [8] 53 BCE was the Parthian victory at the Battle of Carrhae - this would have increased Roman interest in supporting rivals to Parthian throne, and in fact the battle of Carrhae may have been initiated by the Romans to take advantage of Parthian disorder in Babylonia.
c92 BCE Mithradates II was challenged by a usurper "who had probably gained control over the empire’s eastern satrapies, supported by local rich and influential aristocratic families, and over a large part of Mesopotamia. However, civil war was prevented by the king’s natural death." [9]
Babylonia "was not touched by the Romans in their invasion of 54-3, or by Antony in 39-31 during his unsuccessful Armenian adventure." [10]
Between c-100 BCE to 100 CE the Babylonians at Babylon ceased to exist while the Greeks at Seleucia ceased to have the importance they once did.
40 - 226 CE (less centralized, fuedal period)
"the Parthian state was highly unstable, and Artabanus’ death at about A.D. 40, in combination with financial and military reverses over the preceding decades, apparently weakened the Parthian state to the extent that it no longer issued an imperial coinage and successful revolts were staged at Seleucia-on-the-Tigris and other cities. At about this same time, it appears that Susa and its environs were incorporated into the ’satrapy’ of Elymais (Fig. 6)." [7]
"Written documents (mainly in Greek, Latin, or Hebrew) from the first two centuries A.D. in Southwest Asia suggest that the Parthian ’Empire’ was at most times an unstable coalition of vassal states brought periodically under imperial Parthian control." [7]
"Elymais coined its own money, conducted its own public works programs, and in other was was apparently independent until about A.D. 215, when, documentary evidence suggests, the Parthian imperial government was once again in control at Susa." [7] Elymais/Susiana region experienced an upturn in economy, agriculture, population
"The last hundred years in the life of Parthia was a period appropriately described as the ’downfall of the Parthian Empire’. The period began with the reign of Vologases II, who ruled until A.D. 146/7." [11]
"By the beginning of the third century A.D., the states of southern Mesopotamia and the provinces of eastern Iran - Margiana, Segistan (Sistan) and Kerman - were virtually independent states, governed by local dynasties which only formally recognized their dependence on the Arsacids." [12] nominal centralization

Reference(s):

[1]: (Debevoise 1938, xxvi) Debevoise, Neilson C. 1938. A Political History of Parthia. University of Chicago Press Chicago. https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/political_history_parthia.pdf

[2]: (Curtis 2007) Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh and Stewart, Sarah eds. 2007. The Age of the Parthians. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. London.

[3]: A.D.H. Bivar, ‘The Political History of Iran Under the Arsacids’, in Ehsan Yar-Shater (ed.), The Cambridge History of Iran: The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian Periods. Part 1, Vol. 3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), p.28.

[4]: A.D.H. Bivar, ‘The Political History of Iran Under the Arsacids’, in Ehsan Yar-Shater (ed.), The Cambridge History of Iran: The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian Periods. Part 1, Vol. 3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), p.96.

[5]: (Dabrowa 2012, 178) Dabrowa, Edward. The Arcasid Empire. in Daryaee, Touraj ed. 2012. The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History. Oxford University Press.

[6]: (Neusner 2008, 16) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.

[7]: (Wenke 1981, 306) Wenke, Robert J. 1981. Elymeans, Parthians, and the Evolution of Empires in Southwestern Iran. Journal of the American Oriental Society. Vol. 101. No. 3. Jul-Sep. American Oriental Society. pp. 303-315. http://www.jstor.org/stable/602592

[8]: (Dabrowa 2012, 182) Dabrowa, Edward. The Arcasid Empire. in Daryaee, Touraj ed. 2012. The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History. Oxford University Press.

[9]: (Dabrowa 2012, 171) Dabrowa, Edward. The Arcasid Empire. in Daryaee, Touraj ed. 2012. The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History. Oxford University Press.

[10]: (Neusner 2008, 22) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.

[11]: (Litvinsky, Shah and Samghabadi 1994, 464) Litvinsky, B. A. Shah, Hussain, M. Samghabadi, R. Shabani. The Rise of Sasanian Iran. in Harmatta, Janos. Puri, B. N. Etemadi, G. F. eds. 1994. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizatins 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. UNESCO Publishing.

[12]: (Litvinsky, Shah and Samghabadi 1994, 470) Litvinsky, B. A. Shah, Hussain, M. Samghabadi, R. Shabani. The Rise of Sasanian Iran. in Harmatta, Janos. Puri, B. N. Etemadi, G. F. eds. 1994. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizatins 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. UNESCO Publishing.


Political and Cultural Relations
alliance

DESCRIPTION 1 "There was, indeed, a separate Parthian kingdom beyond the Indus, independent of the Arsacid kingdom, but in friendly alliance with it." [1]
Alliance with China against the Kushans during the reign of Vologases. [2]
There was diplomatic contact with the Chinese. A Parthian general met a Chinese envoy in c.199 BCE. [3]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Bivar 2007) Bivar, A D H in Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh and Stewart, Sarah eds. 2007. The Age of the Parthians. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. London.

[2]: (Dabrowa 2012, 176) Dabrowa, Edward. The Arcasid Empire. in Daryaee, Touraj ed. 2012. The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History. Oxford University Press.

[3]: Bratindra Nath MUKHERJEE, An Agrippan Source: A Study in Indo-Parthian History (Calcutta: Pilgrim Publishers, 1969). p.73.


Greco-Bactrian

DESCRIPTION 1 "The Chinese records revealed that the Parthians shared many cultural characteristics with the petty kingdoms in the Sogdiana, Bactria, and Ferghana regions." [1] The records "suggests that the oases between the Pamirs and the Amu-darya were occupied by people who were culturally related to each other, probably all of Iranian stock." "For example, the Tochari kingdom in the Amu-darya was closely associated with the Parthians in terms of products, customs, trade and currency; the Samarkand was similar to the Tochari, the Bactria to the Sogdiana, the Ferghana to both the Tochari and the Parthians." [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Tao 2007) Tao, Wang in Josef in Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh and Stewart, Sarah eds. 2007. The Age of the Parthians. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. London.


Scale of Supracultural Interaction:
[3,500,000 to 4,000,000] km2

DESCRIPTION 1 km squared.


Relationship to Preceding Entity:
elite migration

DESCRIPTION 1 "The language of Parthia at this time was Parthian, which linguistically is related to Median and belongs to the family of West Iranian languages. The Parni newcomers abandoned their own language in favour of Parthian. The Parni, whose speech was described by Justin as ’midway between Scythian and Median, and contained features of both’, now became known as the Arsacids or Parthians." [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Curtis 2007) Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh and Stewart, Sarah eds. 2007. The Age of the Parthians. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. London.


Confederacy of the Dahae

DESCRIPTION 1 "Arsaces, of Scythian or Bactrian origin, was elected leader of the Parni tribes in 247 BCE. This date marks the beginning of the Arsacid era. The Parni or Aparni were part of the confederacy of the Dahae and lived along the river Ochus southeast of the Caspian Sea." [1] Originally the Parthian were a nomadic tribe, called the Parni, from northeastern Iran. The date of their invasion of ‘Parthia’ is usually given as 247 BCE. [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Curtis 2007) Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh and Stewart, Sarah eds. 2007. The Age of the Parthians. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. London.

[2]: (Koshelenko and Pilipko 1999, 146) Koshelenko, G A. Pilipko, V N. in Dani, Ahmad Hasan. 1999. History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. Motilal Banarsidass Publ.


confederated state

DESCRIPTION 1 The Parthian Empire was divided into three areas: self governing kingdoms in Mesopotamia; semi-independent kingdoms on the borders of Iran); and Parthian ’heartlands’ in the centre under rule of the King. [1]
[1]
"Written documents (mainly in Greek, Latin, or Hebrew) from the first two centuries A.D. in Southwest Asia suggest that the Parthian ’Empire’ was at most times an unstable coalition of vassal states brought periodically under imperial Parthian control." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Lukonin 1983, 734-735) Lukonin, V. G. Political, Social and Administrative Institutions: Taxes and Trade. in Yar-Shater, Ehsan ed. 1983. The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2. III. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.

[2]: (Wenke 1981, 306) Wenke, Robert J. 1981. Elymeans, Parthians, and the Evolution of Empires in Southwestern Iran. Journal of the American Oriental Society. Vol. 101. No. 3. Jul-Sep. American Oriental Society. pp. 303-315. http://www.jstor.org/stable/602592


Language
Greek Pahlavi

DESCRIPTION 1 "After the introduction of Old Persian cuneiform under the Achaemenians, a related form of the same language (a Middle Persian language written in a simplified form of the Aramaic consonantal alphabet) continued as the vehicle of administration under the Parthians." [1] Parthian. Aramaic and Greek also in use. [2] Pahlavi was the official lan­guage of the Parthians, which is "Persian written in Aramaic characters." [3] "Greek served as their official language." [4] "Although we know little of Parthian administrative practice we may assume it provided the basis for the Sasanian administration that followed it in a closely related form of Middle Persian, and in a related script, in the 3rd century AD." [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Spooner and Hanaway 2012, 12) Spooner, Brian. Hanaway, William L. in Spooner, Brian. Hanaway, William L eds. 2012. Literacy in the Persianate World: Writing and the Social Order. University of Pennsylvania Press.

[2]: Josef Wiesehöfer, ’Parthia, Parthian empire’ in The Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization eds. Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth; Ted Kaizer, ‘The Parthian and Early Sasanian Empires c.247 BC - AD 300’, in Thomas Harrison (ed.), The Great Empires of the Ancient World (London: Thames & Hudson, 2009),p.180.

[3]: (Debevoise 1938, xxvi, 27) Debevoise, Neilson C. 1938. A Political History of Parthia. University of Chicago Press Chicago. https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/political_history_parthia.pdf

[4]: (Neusner 2008, 18) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.


Religion
Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
300,000 people 100 BCE [400,000 to 600,000] people 1 CE

DESCRIPTION 600,000 Seleucia-Ctesiphon
300,000: 100 BCE; 400,000: 1 CE; 400,000: 100 CE; [20,000-40,000]: 200 CE
200 BCE - Nisa. Before expansion of the Parthian territories.
100 BCE - 300,000 in Seleucia
1 CE - 400,000 in Seleucia; 100,000 in Merv. [1]
100 CE - 400,000 in Seleucia; 100,000 in Merv. [1]
200 CE - Selucia destroyed by Romans in 167 CE. Ctesiphon was weakened by Roman invasions. Could be Ecbatana/Hamadan, Rayy or Susa? The population of Susa has been estimated as 20,000 to 40,000. [2] - for which years does this estimate apply? However, 20,000-40,000 might be a reasonable estimate for the size of second tier Parthian cities which were presumably still standing at this time.
600,000: Seleucia on the Tigris
"The largest population center and the greatest Greek city was Seleucia on the Tigris, the third largest city of the ancient world, numbering 600,000 inhabitants at its peak." [3]
1,000,000: Ctesiphon
"Ctesiphon city complex with approximately one million inhabitants." [4]
200,000: Hecatompylos, 200,000: Nisa; 200,000+: Rhagae
"Hecatompylos, with an area of 28 km2 renders enough space for a population of 200,000 while Nisa was probably home to the same number of people and Rhagae at a slightly higher number." [4]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Modelski 2003, 55) Modelski, George. 2003. World Cities: -3000 to 2000. Washingto D.C. Faros 2000.

[2]: Wenke, Robert J., ‘Elymeans, Parthians, and the Evolution of Empires in Southwestern Iran’, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 101 (1981), 310.

[3]: (Dabrowa 2012, 183) Dabrowa, Edward. The Arcasid Empire. in Daryaee, Touraj ed. 2012. The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History. Oxford University Press.

[4]: Rezakhani, Khodadad. 2016. Arsacid Society and Culture. Accessed 06.09.2016: https://iranologie.com/the-history-page/the-arsacid-empire/arsacid-society-and-culture/


280,000 km2 200 BCE 2,000,000 km2 100 BCE 3,000,000 km2 1 CE

DESCRIPTION squared kilometers.
280,000: 200 BCE; 2,000,000: 100 BCE; 3,000,000: 1 CE; 1,900,000: 100 CE; 1,800,000: 200 CE
Maximum extent should include Oman region?
"the Gulf region shared to a great extent in a common cultural kione with Babylonia, Mesene, Susiana, Elymais and Karmania between the second century BC and the third century AD. The Periplus leaves little doubt that some measure of Parthian authority extended to the Oman peninsular during the first century AD ... other late sources certainly suggests that Ardashir encountered a Parthian ruler in eastern Arabia when he campaigned there near the end of his reign. The Parthian presence in the Gulf, less widely acknowledged perhaps than either the earlier Seleucid or the later Sasanian one, was nevertheless a reality." [1]
Coinage of Vologases IV (r.147-191 CE) found in Eastern Arabia (e.g. Jebel Kenzan). [2]
The campaigns of Mithridates I (171-138 BCE) spread the authority of the Parthian kings. In 113 BCE Mithridates II took the title of ‘King of Kings’. For 300 years from 92 BC, the Parthian Empire was seen as the main foe of the Roman Empire. Parthian power derived from their military successes and control of commerce. Trade flourished as Parthia was an intermediary between Rome and Far East and became part of the network of Silk Roads. [3]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Potts 2013, 282) Potts, D T. in Reade, Julian ed. 2013. Indian Ocean In Antiquity. Routledge.

[2]: (Potts 2013, 280) Potts, D T. in Reade, Julian ed. 2013. Indian Ocean In Antiquity. Routledge.

[3]: (Koshelenko and Pilipko 1999, 146) Koshelenko, G A. Pilipko, V N. in Dani, Ahmad Hasan. 1999. History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. Motilal Banarsidass Publ.


[50,000 to 100,000] people 200 BCE 5,450,000 people 100 BCE 7,500,000 people 1 CE 25,000,000 people 1 CE 15,000,000 people 1 CE

DESCRIPTION Priesler-Keller writes that due to a lack of empire-wide census, a population estimate of 5-7.5million is plausible for the Parthian Empire. [1]
[50,000-100,000]: 200 BCE; 5,450,000: 100 BCE; {7,500,000; 15,000,000; 25,000,000}: 1 CE; 4,750,000: 100 CE; 5,000,000: 200 CE
Estimates derived from McEvedy and Jones [2]
200 BCE - occupied the very south-west corner of Central Asia. McEvedy and Jones have 1,000,000 for the whole region at this time. Considering lack of major population center in this region, at most 10% of this total.
100 BCE - 200,000 in Central Asia, 1,250,000 in Iraq, 4,000,000 in Iran
1 CE - 500,000 in Central Asia, 2,000,000 in Afghanistan, 4,000,000 in Iran, 1,000,000 in Iraq, ? in Pakistan (mountains region).
100 CE - 3,750,000 in Iran, 1,000,000 in Iraq
200 CE - 4,000,000 in Iran, 1,000,000 in Iraq
Maximum extent estimates
10-20 million - Durand (1977) [3]
25 million - Truxillo (2008) [4]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Priesler-Keller, Johannes. Personal Communication to Jill Levine, Dan Hoyer, and Peter Turchin. April 2020. Email.

[2]: (McEvedy and Jones 1978) McEvedy, Colin. Jones, Richard. 1978. Atlas of World Population History. Penguin Books Ltd.

[3]: (Korotaev 2006, 12) Korotaev, A. V. 2012. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Secular Cycles and Millennial Trends in Africa. Editorial URSS.

[4]: (Truxillo 2008, 71) Truxillo, Charles A. 2008. Periods of World History: A Latin American Perspective. Jain Publishing Company.


Hierarchical Complexity
[4 to 5]

DESCRIPTION 1. Capital (Nisa; Hekatompylos; Rhagae; Ectatana; Ctesiphon)
2. Regional capitals
3. Towns
4. Villages
(5. Hamlets?)


3

DESCRIPTION "many religions flourished within the Parthian empire; in addition to Judaism, various Hellenistic, Babylonian, and other cults were observed in the cities of Dura, Palmyra, and elsewhere. There can be no doubt, moreover, that the Good Religion of the Mazdayasnians continued to be cultivated. Though Zoroastrianism as we know it from Sasanid times may have taken shape in the Arsacid period, we have no way to trade its developent. In general, the Parthians were as flexible and tolerant in religious matters as they were in politics and, at best, in Frye’s judgment, we may speak of a ’general Mazdayasnian religious predominace,’ within which were many subdivisions and even aberrations. Nonetheless, the dominant influence in Parthian religion was that of the Magi, who were, as in later periods, in charge of formal rites and cultic acitivities, though their influence on the religions of the Babylonian area was limited by the existence of powerful competing traditions." [1]
_Mazdayasnianism_
_Zoroastrianism_
"... the part played by Zoroastrianism in the Parthian state has not been entirely clarified." [2]
1. Chief priest
2. Priest3. ?
_Christianity_
Religions and full-time religious professionals were present within the Parthian realm including Christian bishops. [3] Can we code for Christian church?
1. ?
2. Bishop3. ?
_Mithraism_
Cult of Mithra spread from the Parthian Empire to Rome (originated in India? bronze age?). "Contrary to other religions of the same type, such as the cults of Isis and Osiris, Serapis, Dionysus (all well-known examples), Mithraicism eschewed any external manifestations and depended only on its initiatory nature to recruit its followers. ... it gradually became a common faith for soldiers, civil servants, merchants ... The members joined a spirituality of an initiatory type ... shared with a large group of solar faiths ... that promised both a life near to the deity and a personal redemption." [4]
"From the end of the first century B.C.E. we have evidence of a cult coming from the East and gradually and discretely conquering the Roman army and administration (Daniels). This god, previously unknown to the Romans, was called Mithra. Some historians believe (see Plutarch, Pomp. 24.7) that the notorius Cilician pirates defeated by Pompeius propagated this cult when deported in Calabria. We now believe that it was a late transformation of the god Mithra, the friendly protector of contracts .... and defender of true and just causes." [5]
"We must also stress that this god retained, in his manifestation in the Roman Empire, his essential characteristics of friend and guardian of contracts." [6]
In Rome "Mithra probably won over even the imperial house. We are wary about the well-known initiation of the emperor Nero to the mysteries of the Magi through Tiridates (see Turcan 1989:237). However, it seems that the emperor Commodus (192) was an unworthy adept of the mysteries, because he was suspected of having killed a fellow-adept during a ceremony simulating a ritual sacrifice. The imperial house had a much worthier adept in Diocletian and his colleagues of the Tetrarchy: Galerius and Licinius. The god is then called the fautor imperii sui, the "protector of the imperial power" (Inscription of Carnuntum in 307)." [7] Mithracism was very successful in the Parthian Empire.
Mithracism: "on the social level people learned, in the ’Persic Cavern’, to respect the contract linking the human being to the cosmos and to the gods, and then, at least in an implicit way, to respect the emperors, who were divine beings, as intermediaries between the sky and the earth. The faithfulness to a vivifying cosmic order was thus accompanied by faithfulness to the one representing this order on earth. It is not surprising, then, that Mithra was invoked as Jupiter Dolichenus for the salvation of the emperor. In time, a cult ascribed to the enemies gets mixed up with the worship of the protecting gods of Rome!" [7]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Neusner 2008, 19) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.

[2]: Lukonin, V.G., ‘Political, Social and Administrative Institutions: Taxes and Trade’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), vol. III, P.713.

[3]: (Raschke 1976, 824) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.

[4]: (Decharneux (2004, 94) Decharneux, Baudouin. Mithra’s Cult: An Example of Religious Colonialism in Roman Times. Draper, Jonathan A. ed. 2004. Orality, Literacy, and Colonialism in Antiquity. BRILL.

[5]: (Decharneux 2004, 93) Decharneux, Baudouin. Mithra’s Cult: An Example of Religious Colonialism in Roman Times. Draper, Jonathan A. ed. 2004. Orality, Literacy, and Colonialism in Antiquity. BRILL.

[6]: (Decharneux 2004, 93-94) Decharneux, Baudouin. Mithra’s Cult: An Example of Religious Colonialism in Roman Times. Draper, Jonathan A. ed. 2004. Orality, Literacy, and Colonialism in Antiquity. BRILL.

[7]: (Decharneux 2004, 100) Decharneux, Baudouin. Mithra’s Cult: An Example of Religious Colonialism in Roman Times. Draper, Jonathan A. ed. 2004. Orality, Literacy, and Colonialism in Antiquity. BRILL.


6

DESCRIPTION "Parthia was the only state that rivaled Rome at the same level of sophisticated political and military organization". [1]
1. King
2. Commanders (aristocracy)"The aristocracy provided the cataphracts and trained their retainers - not their slaves - as mounted bowmen. Parthian army was small, as in most feudal states, never more than 6,000 cataphracts and 34,000 bowmen..." [2]
3. Cataphract level senior officer inferred - leader of 1000?4. Cataphract level junior officer inferred - leader of 100?5. Leader of 10 horsemen inferredAt Carrhae, a Parthian general named Surenas brought with him "a train of camels, one for every ten horsemen, loaded with spare arrows." [3] This reference to the supplying of groups of 10 horsemen is interesting because the Sassanids, the Parthian successors, inherited their military structure (division between heavy and light cavalry). It is noted of the Sassanids that they "Like the Achaemenids ... likely used the decimal system to organize the Spah (army). The title Hazarmard/Hazarbad means "chief of a thousand"." [4]
6. Individual soldier

Reference(s):

[1]: (Southern 2007, 46) Southern, Pat. 2007. The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History. Oxford University Press.

[2]: (Naval Intelligence Division 2014, 231) Naval Intelligence Division. 2014. Iraq & The Persian Gulf. Routledge.

[3]: (Ellis 2004, 37) Ellis, John. 2004. Cavalry: History of Mounted Warfare. Pen and Sword.

[4]: (Farrokh 2005, 3-27)


[5 to 6]

DESCRIPTION The Parthians were "a military aristocracy, which found it most convenient to rule not directly but through various kinds of authorities, each appropriate to the area governed, to whom they maintained a feudal relationship and to whose subjects they desired little direct relationship at all." [1]
The provinces and cities outside the Parthia heartlands paid tribute or allegiance to the ‘king of kings’, but regional lords retained their own power. Although the Parthians themselves were Zoroastrian, the empire was multi-ethnic and multi-religious and revolts against the Parthian King were common. There were also challenges form within the Parthian elites. Parthian Kings were chosen from the Arascid clan, but they were ’appointed’ by nobles rather than automatically succeeding to rule. After 40 BCE Parthian military power was weakening and they could not mount offensive operations into Roman territory. They suffered a series of military defeats to the Romans and a smallpox epidemic between 161 CE and 217 CE. However it was invasion by the Sassanians from Iran that ended their rule. [2]
1. King
Parthian King of Kings [3]
2. Council of Nobles
2. Council of MagiThese were two different councils, one for kinsmen and one for magi. [4]
_Court_
"Parthian kings presided over a considerable body of specialized officials and functionaries of various levels dealing with the collection of duties and taxes and supervising local communities and administrative units. It should be noted that while provincial administration was extensive, central government was scant." [5]
"The Parthian government consisted of the king and the royal court, in addition to the Council of the Nobles (the Mahistan). The king was traditionally elected by the nobles from the members of the Arsacid family, although the succession of the eldest son was not guaranteed. Below the king were the members of the six noble families, probably modeled after the six noble families of the Achaemenid court and continuing this tradition into the Sasanian period. These families all seem to have had a control of a section of the country where the majority of their land possessions were located. They also held particular positions in the royal court, members of each family having the privilege of crowning the king, serving in his bed-chamber, or serving as the first minister." [6]
"We know that varied schools of philosophy flourished in Hellenistic Babylonia, and Greek metaphysicians, astronomers, naturalists, historians, geographers, and physicians worked there. The Parthian court made considerable use of such trained and able men for building its bureaucracy." [7]
2. First Minister"The court system of the Arsacids was copied from the Achaemenid model, being staffed by many offices called Diwans, responsible for record-keeping, communication, budgeting, and taxation. These were headed by their respective Dibirs who were all responsible to a first-minister, a member of the nobility as mentioned before." [6]
"Unlike the Seleucid and Sasanian periods, the Arsacid empire is very poorly documented in terms of its administration." So discussion of the relationship between center and periphery in the Empire and how its main institutions were run is speculative to some extent. [8]
3. Dibir of a Diwan"The court system of the Arsacids was copied from the Achaemenid model, being staffed by many offices called Diwāns, responsible for record-keeping, communication, budgeting, and taxation. These were headed by their respective Dibirs who were all responsible to a first-minister, a member of the nobility as mentioned before." [6]
3. Official dealing with revenue
"there was a general state cadastre for the lands of the royal domain. The state fixed and strictly controlled tax revenue." [9] 4."Records found in excavations at Nisa provide evidence of different types of tax collection, depending on the category of the land. Two categories are known - patbaz and uzbari. Patbaz was collection in kind for the use of the king. It is less clear what the other category was. There are also indications of the existence of special levies for the support of religious activities, somewhat similar to tithes." [10]
_Provincial government_
"as the Parthians conquered Seleucid territory, they found in addition to the various municipal governments a decayed satrapal system, built upon the eparchs and hyparchs. The Parthian nobility had, in places, to be superimposed upon this structure. Various relatives and followers were granted ’fuedal’ fiefs." [11]
"Part of the kingdom was divided into satrapies ruled by satraps appointed by the king. The rest consisted of vassal kingdoms." [12]
2. Satrap of SatrapsMithradates II rock reliefs at Behistun 87 BCE show "his principal officials ... The chief of these is called satrap of satraps, the other three simply satraps. Probably these men belonged to the great families of Iran such as the Surens and Karens." [13]
3. Satrap"Apart from the territories forming part of the royal domain and governed through satraps, much of Parthia consisted of vassal kingdoms."City officials (e.g. prefect) [14] [15]
"There was an extensive and developed bureaucracy, as attested by ostraca from Nisa and by the Parthian parchments and ostraca from Dura-Europos." [9] This quote might be referring to the provincial administration:
check parthiansources.com e.g. text SKZ
4. Parthian town"While sources also speak of ’Parthian towns’, in contrast to Greek ones, there is no specific information about their internal life. It can only be conjectured that they did not enjoy autonomy and were under the full control of the local Parthian administration." [9]
City officials (e.g. prefect) [14] [15] -- does this reference refer to towns directly controlled or to the Greek city-states?
5. dïz (group of villages) headed by a dïzpatThe lowest administrative unit was the stathmos (in Greek) or dïz (in Parthian), which represented a group of a few villages. The stathmos also had a small military post. This administrative unit was headed by a dïzpat." [9]
2. Governor of the Western Frontier"Despite the doubt over the actual readings of some of the titles, it is clear that the governor of the western frontier of Parthia was a man of very high rank (possibly a Suren ...) and one whose duties included at least nominal authority over Arabian tribes within or along the Parthian frontier." [16]
"In some cases power over a number of satrapies (usually along the frontiers) was concentrated in the hands of the same person." [9] is this the office of Satrap of Satrapies?
3. Head of administration? (Eunuch?)"The eunuch, Phraates, and his lord, Manesus, the Parthian governor of the western frontier, both bear Iranian titles". [16]
4. Scribe inferred level
4. Tax collector? Revenue inferred level5. Scribe/Assistant inferred level
3. Tribal leader (Arabs)

3. Old Babylonian towns (e.g. Uruk Warka)"The fully privileged aristocracy formed a religious and municipal commune enjoying a measure of self-rule. These towns owned a land district." [9]
_Vassals_
"Seleucid and Parthian cities were self-governing and controlled considerable territories independent of the central government." [17]
2. Greek city-statesDocuments from Susa and Dura Europus show "the governments of these places preserved the pattern of the Hellenistic city state. Such places rarely held Parthian garrisons." [18]
"The Greek city-states in Parthia were a survival from the Seleucid period. Under the Parthians they formally retained their autonomy" [9]
"power was concentrated into the hands of a council made up of representatives of a few of the richest families." [9]
2. Local Kingdoms [3] "From the reign of Mithradates I onwards, when the Parthians controlled Mesopotamia and Iran, local kingdoms were granted a certain amount of freedom, as long as they recognised the Parthian sovereign as their overlord." [3]
In Macedonian times "Alexander and Peucestas apparently did touch neither the Achaemenid system of local dependencies and local administration, nor the basic ideas of the Persian ideology of kingship. There is no other way to explain the fact that nothing is known about unrest in Persis after Peucestas’ appointment, that the new satrap could levy troops there without difficulty, and that a great number of nobles collaborated with Alexander. This kind support from the nobles for their new persophile Macedonian masters continued until the second century BCE". [19]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Neusner 2008, 16) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.

[2]: (Wenke 1981) Wenke, Robert J. 1981. Elymeans, Parthians, and the Evolution of Empires in Southwestern Iran. Journal of the American Oriental Society. Vol. 101. No. 3. Jul-Sep. American Oriental Society. pp. 303-315. http://www.jstor.org/stable/602592

[3]: (Curtis 2007) Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh and Stewart, Sarah eds. 2007. The Age of the Parthians. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. London.

[4]: (Koshelenko and Pilipko 1994, 140) Koshelenko, G. A. Pilipko, V. N. Parthia. in Harmatta, Janos. Puri, B. N. Etemadi, G. F. eds. 1994. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizatins 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. UNESCO Publishing.

[5]: (Dabrowa 2012, 181) Dabrowa, Edward. The Arcasid Empire. in Daryaee, Touraj ed. 2012. The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History. Oxford University Press.

[6]: Rezakhani, Khodadad. 2016. Arsacid Society and Culture. Accessed 06.09.2016: https://iranologie.com/the-history-page/the-arsacid-empire/arsacid-society-and-culture/

[7]: (Neusner 2008, 8-9) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.

[8]: Wiesehöfer, Josef, Ancient Persia: From 550 BC to 650 AD, trans. by Azizeh Azodi (London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 1996, p.144.

[9]: (Koshelenko and Pilipko 1999, 146) Koshelenko, G A. Pilipko, V N. in Dani, Ahmad Hasan. 1999. History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. Motilal Banarsidass Publ.

[10]: (Koshelenko and Pilipko 1999, 147) Koshelenko, G A. Pilipko, V N. in Dani, Ahmad Hasan. 1999. History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. Motilal Banarsidass Publ.

[11]: (Neusner 2008, 18) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.

[12]: (Koshelenko and Pilipko 1994, 141) Koshelenko, G. A. Pilipko, V. N. Parthia. in Harmatta, Janos. Puri, B. N. Etemadi, G. F. eds. 1994. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizatins 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. UNESCO Publishing.

[13]: (Debevoise 1938, xxxix) Debevoise, Neilson C. 1938. A Political History of Parthia. University of Chicago Press Chicago. https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/political_history_parthia.pdf

[14]: Perikhanian, A., ‘Iranian Society and Law’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), III, p.631.Wiesehöfer, Josef, Ancient Persia: From 550 BC to 650 AD, trans. by Azizeh Azodi (London

[15]: New York: I.B. Tauris, 1996, p.122.

[16]: (Raschke 1976, 826) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.

[17]: (Lambton 2011) Lambton, Ann K S. 2011. CITIES iii. Administration and Social Organization. Encyclopedia Iranica. http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/cities-iii

[18]: (Debevoise 1938, xli) Debevoise, Neilson C. 1938. A Political History of Parthia. University of Chicago Press Chicago. https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/political_history_parthia.pdf

[19]: (Wiesehöfer 2007) Wiesehöfer, Josef in Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh and Stewart, Sarah eds. 2007. The Age of the Parthians. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. London.


Professions
present absent

DESCRIPTION Professional cavalry
’Knights’ given allowances of land for equipping troops at expense of a magnate. They may have been "specially trained professional warrior slaves". [1]
Non-professional infantry
"The mass of lesser nobles and their retainers were traditional horse archers, mounted on tough steppe ponies and armed with the reflex bow." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: Lukonin, V.G., ‘Political, Social and Administrative Institutions: Taxes and Trade’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), vol. III, p.700 .

[2]: (Penrose 2008, 221) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


present

DESCRIPTION Religions and full-time religious professionals were present within the Parthian realm including Christian bishops [1] , Zoroastrian priests, Jewish priests? etc.
However, "We have no information about the place occupied at the court of the Parthian ruler by the Zoroastrian priests, since the part played by Zoroastrianism in the Parthian state has not been entirely clarified." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Raschke 1976, 824) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.

[2]: Lukonin, V.G., ‘Political, Social and Administrative Institutions: Taxes and Trade’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), vol. III, P.713.


absent

DESCRIPTION The commanders would have been formed out of a warrior aristocracy who had inherited the position of leading forces and land which they used to support themselves and their troops. AD: coded inferred present as officers in the lower hierarchical ranks might have been more specialised (eg. leader of 10 horsemen).
"The Parthians were a warrior people. Though possessing armoured knights mounted on weight-carrying chargers." [1] no regular army they were superb horsemen and and archers, and in time of war the nobility provided heavily a
"The division between grand and petty nobility was reflected in the structure of the Parthian army. Both provided the cavalry - indeed, during the first century BC the Persian infantry almost completely disappeared - but this was made up of two distinct types of horsemen. On the one hand, there were the mounted archers, lightly armed on nimble mounts, who were supplied by the lesser estate holders. Most of these were from Eastern Iran where they lived in small castles and block-houses, and evolved a typical feudal culture centered round jousting, hunting, war, and a chivalric code that emphasized the virtues of personal honour and the protection of women. The grandees, on the other hand, supplied a new type of horseman, a development of the Sarmatian and the Saka knight, who encased both himself and his horse in mail armour and armed himself with a great bow, lance and sword." [2]
"We may suppose that the Arsacids thus preserved the original nomadic nobility, rewarded them for their services by gifts of land which would provide a base for future political and military power." [3]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Penrose 2008, 221) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.

[2]: (Ellis 2004, 36-37) Ellis, John. 2004. Cavalry: History of Mounted Warfare. Pen and Sword.

[3]: (Neusner 2008, 17) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.


Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
present

DESCRIPTION e.g. the mint at Seleucia "largest in the Parthian empire". [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Lukonin, V.G., ‘Political, Social and Administrative Institutions: Taxes and Trade’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), vol. III, p.719


absent

DESCRIPTION Access to offices was via kin networks. [1]
Mithradates II rock reliefs at Behistun 87 BCE show "his principal officials ... The chief of these is called satrap of satraps, the other three simply satraps. Probably these men belonged to the great families of Iran such as the Surens and Karens." [2]
According to Chinese records "From Dayuan heading west towards Anxi the different countries speak different languages, but their customs are largely similar and they can understand each other’s speech. ... Women seem to be held in high respect, and the men make decisions on the advice of their women." In other words the records "suggests that the oases between the Pamirs and the Amu-darya were occupied by people who were culturally related to each other, probably all of Iranian stock. [3]

Reference(s):

[1]: Perikhanian, A., ‘Iranian Society and Law’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), vol.3, P.645

[2]: (Debevoise 1938, xxxix) Debevoise, Neilson C. 1938. A Political History of Parthia. University of Chicago Press Chicago. https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/political_history_parthia.pdf

[3]: (Tao 2007) Tao, Wang in Josef in Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh and Stewart, Sarah eds. 2007. The Age of the Parthians. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. London.


present

DESCRIPTION Permanent officials and office holders. [1]
“It was status as an agnate [kin group or clan] in one of the noble groups that alone gave access to appointment to any state or court official of importance. Certain offices even became, with the passing of time, hereditary in a particular group”. The groups had "preferential right" to hold the office. [1]
"There was an extensive and developed bureaucracy, as attested by ostraca from Nisa and by the Parthian parchments and ostraca from Dura-Europos." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: Perikhanian, A., ‘Iranian Society and Law’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), vol.3, P.645

[2]: (Koshelenko and Pilipko 1999, 146) Koshelenko, G A. Pilipko, V N. in Dani, Ahmad Hasan. 1999. History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. Motilal Banarsidass Publ.


absent

DESCRIPTION Access to offices was via kin networks. [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Perikhanian, A., ‘Iranian Society and Law’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), vol.3, P.645


Law
present

DESCRIPTION Inferred from presence of law courts. [1]
"The advent of the Parthians did not mark a break in the cultural history of the Greek cities, which retained their constitutions and magistrates, their schools, language, and law, long after the decline of Seleucid power." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: Perikhanian, A., ‘Iranian Society and Law’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983),vol. III, p.676.

[2]: (Neusner 2008, 10) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.


unknown

DESCRIPTION "The advent of the Parthians did not mark a break in the cultural history of the Greek cities, which retained their constitutions and magistrates, their schools, language, and law, long after the decline of Seleucid power." [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Neusner 2008, 10) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.


present

DESCRIPTION There were law courts in the main town of the districts and in every rural district [1]
"The advent of the Parthians did not mark a break in the cultural history of the Greek cities, which retained their constitutions and magistrates, their schools, language, and law, long after the decline of Seleucid power." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: Perikhanian, A., ‘Iranian Society and Law’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983),vol. III, p.676.

[2]: (Neusner 2008, 10) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.


Specialized Buildings: polity owned
present

DESCRIPTION e.g.the city of Apologos (Uulla) “an official emporium”. [1] "Parthian cities included palace complexes, fortresses for the military garrison, and temple complexes, as well as markets and residential areas." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: Brunner, Christopher, ‘Geographical and Adminstrative Divisions: Settlements and Economy’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), III, p.55

[2]: Rezakhani, Khodadad. 2016. Arsacid Society and Culture. Accessed 06.09.2016: https://iranologie.com/the-history-page/the-arsacid-empire/arsacid-society-and-culture/


present

DESCRIPTION "From the earliest times, the flow of water was controlled for agricultural purposes by an elaborate system of canals, sluices, dams, embankments, and dikes." [1] "Iranians were the inventors of qanats ... during the Archaemenid era there appeared an extensive system of underground networks known as qanats". [2] "sites from the Parthian period together with irrigation canals have been found at Qala-i Sam, Kuh-i Khawaja, Sultan Baba Ziyarat" [3] "From the earliest times, the flow of water was controlled for agricultural purposes by an elaborate system of canals, sluices, dams, embankments, and dikes." [1] The use of qanats likely brought irrigation and possibly even drinking water from higher areas. This technology starts to be used in the Iron Age and continues into later periods as it spreads through the Near East and into Central Asia. [4]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Neusner 2008, 1-2) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.

[2]: (Angelakis, Mays and Koutsoyiannis 2012, 97) Angelakis A N, Mays L W, Koutsoyiannis, D. 2012. Evolution of Water Supply Through the Millennia. IWA Publishing.

[3]: (Raschke 1976, 833) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.

[4]: (Miksic, John. Personal Communication to Jill Levine, Dan Hoyer, and Peter Turchin. April 2020. Email)


present

DESCRIPTION Wine storage rooms at Nisa. [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Raschke 1976, 824) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.


present

DESCRIPTION knowledge and or infrastructure retained from the Achaemenid Empire era: "Darius ordered the reconstruction of the city of Sarod destroyed by the Greeks. Mendrokles presented to Darius a plan of the city, which was to be built over an area of 50 x 50 Ostad [1 Ostad = 200m]. Piped water and sewers were considered in the plan." [1] Fact knowledge may have been retained implied by complex water infrastructure in the new city of Dara: "Tridot or Tirdad, whose foresight rivaled that of Cyrus of Darius built a large city called Dara or Darium or Darius in the year 211 BC near the present day Abivard, to preserve the name of Darius the Great for prosperity. In this city the water flowed in closed conduits and there were provisions for sewers. All houses were equipped with heaters and central heating, which brought steam from a hot water tank to the rooms via a piping system." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Angelakis, Mays and Koutsoyiannis 2012, 94) Angelakis A N, Mays L W, Koutsoyiannis, D. 2012.Evolution of Water Supply Through the Millennia. IWA Publishing.

[2]: (Angelakis, Mays and Koutsoyiannis 2012, 94-95) Angelakis A N, Mays L W, Koutsoyiannis, D. 2012.Evolution of Water Supply Through the Millennia. IWA Publishing.


Transport Infrastructure
present

DESCRIPTION Persian Royal Road. "the Arsacids succeeded in maintaining this network of roads and expanding it to the north-east to include their major cities of Rhagae and Nisa." [1] Trade with India by land "via southern Iran or from Merv by the southeast portion of the ’royal way’ leading to India via Sistan and Kandahar." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: Rezakhani, Khodadad. 2016. Arsacid Society and Culture. Accessed 06.09.2016: https://iranologie.com/the-history-page/the-arsacid-empire/arsacid-society-and-culture/

[2]: (Koshelenko and Pilipko 1994, 134) Koshelenko, G. A. Pilipko, V. N. Parthia. in Harmatta, Janos. Puri, B. N. Etemadi, G. F. eds. 1994. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizatins 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. UNESCO Publishing.


present

DESCRIPTION e.g. Omana, annexed by Meredat, Parthian ruler of the kingdom of Characene. [1] Trade with India by sea "via Spasinu-Charax on the Persian Gulf". [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Potts 2013, 280) Potts, D T. in Reade, Julian ed. 2013. Indian Ocean In Antiquity. Routledge.

[2]: (Koshelenko and Pilipko 1994, 134) Koshelenko, G. A. Pilipko, V. N. Parthia. in Harmatta, Janos. Puri, B. N. Etemadi, G. F. eds. 1994. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizatins 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. UNESCO Publishing.


present

DESCRIPTION e.g. the ’royal canal’ that connected the city of Seleucia to the Euphrates. [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Lukonin, V.G., ‘Political, Social and Administrative Institutions: Taxes and Trade’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), vol. 3, p.719.


present

DESCRIPTION According to ancient authors the Parthians built caravanserei and constructed bridges to encourage trade. [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Raschke 1976, 820) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.


Special-purpose Sites
present

DESCRIPTION Silver mines at Nakhlak. Copper and lead mine at Qual’eh Zari". [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Raschke 1976, 825) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.


Information / Writing System
present

DESCRIPTION The Parthians had administrative documents. [1] The ’various and heterogeneous’ writing in Parthian times consisted mainly of epigraphic material, including over 2,000 documents written on pot sherds at Nisā. [2] The Chinese Shiji notes "To make records they cut leather and write horizontally." [3] Pahlavi parchment from Avroman in Kurdistan. [4]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Raschke 1976, 825) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.

[2]: Lukonin, V.G., ‘Political, Social and Administrative Institutions: Taxes and Trade’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), vol. III, p.681.

[3]: (Tao 2007) Tao, Wang in Josef in Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh and Stewart, Sarah eds. 2007. The Age of the Parthians. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. London.

[4]: (Debevoise 1938, xxxv) Debevoise, Neilson C. 1938. A Political History of Parthia. University of Chicago Press Chicago. https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/political_history_parthia.pdf


present

DESCRIPTION "Greek served as their official language." [1] "Although we know little of Parthian administrative practice we may assume it provided the basis for the Sasanian administration that followed it in a closely related form of Middle Persian, and in a related script, in the 3rd century AD." [2] "After the introduction of Old Persian cuneiform under the Achaemenians, a related form of the same language (a Middle Persian language written in a simplified form of the Aramaic consonantal alphabet) continued as the vehicle of administration under the Parthians." [2] Chancellery script under the Achaemenians 1st century BC. [3]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Neusner 2008, 18) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.

[2]: (Spooner and Hanaway 2012, 12) Spooner, Brian. Hanaway, William L. in Spooner, Brian. Hanaway, William L eds. 2012. Literacy in the Persianate World: Writing and the Social Order. University of Pennsylvania Press.

[3]: Boyce, Mary, ‘Parthian Writings and Literature’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), iii, p.1151.


present

DESCRIPTION Bactrain, derived from the Greek alphabet. [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Wiesehöfer, Josef, Ancient Persia: From 550 BC to 650 AD, trans. by Azizeh Azodi (London ; New York: I.B. Tauris, 1996), p.118


unknown

DESCRIPTION The Parthians had administrative documents. [1] The ’various and heterogeneous’ writing in Parthian times consisted mainly of epigraphic material, including over 2,000 documents written on pot sherds at Nisā. [2] The Chinese Shiji notes "To make records they cut leather and write horizontally." [3] Pahlavi parchment from Avroman in Kurdistan. [4]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Raschke 1976, 825) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.

[2]: Lukonin, V.G., ‘Political, Social and Administrative Institutions: Taxes and Trade’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), vol. III, p.681.

[3]: (Tao 2007) Tao, Wang in Josef in Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh and Stewart, Sarah eds. 2007. The Age of the Parthians. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. London.

[4]: (Debevoise 1938, xxxv) Debevoise, Neilson C. 1938. A Political History of Parthia. University of Chicago Press Chicago. https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/political_history_parthia.pdf


unknown

DESCRIPTION The majority of written sources used are written in Greek and Latin, and were written by people from outside the Parthian empire looking into it. The Parthian language survives on potsherds and some graffiti. [1] Lukonin comments, “The sources in the Parthian language consist mostly of fragmentary epigraphic material.” [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Lukonin, V.G., ‘Political, Social and Administrative Institutions: Taxes and Trade’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), vol. III, p.681.


Information / Kinds of Written Documents
present

DESCRIPTION "Credit for the discovery and use of the monsoon as an aid to navigation in the Indian Ocean is given to a merchant named Hippalus about the year 100 B.C." [1] Astronomy, primarily for calendar. [2] "We know that varied schools of philosophy flourished in Hellenistic Babylonia, and Greek metaphysicians, astronomers, naturalists, historians, geographers, and physicians worked there. The Parthian court made considerable use of such trained and able men for building its bureaucracy." [3]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Debevoise 1938, 43-44) Debevoise, Neilson C. 1938. A Political History of Parthia. University of Chicago Press Chicago. https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/political_history_parthia.pdf

[2]: (Hopkins 2008) Chris Hopkins. 2008. http://www.parthia.com/parthia_science.htm

[3]: (Neusner 2008, 8-9) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.


present

DESCRIPTION Zoroastrianism? Bible.


present

DESCRIPTION Zoroastrianism?


present

DESCRIPTION The Parthians had administrative documents. [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Raschke 1976, 825) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.


present

DESCRIPTION "Iranians were familiar with Greek philosophy from the Achaemenid period." [1] "Parthian Empire in particular seems to have become a refuge for the Jews who fled the Roman persecution and brought the fundamental of the rabbinic learning with them, to appear in the form of the Babylonian Talmud a few centuries later." [2] "the Avesta (the holy book of Zoroastrianism) ... credits Vologases I (51-78 CE) with the collection and compiling of the corpus of Avesta itself. Whether true or not, this is an evidence of the interest of later Arsacid Emperors in Zoroastrianism and their possible patronage of its spread." [2] "the late Arsacid period is distinguished by the rise of the aforementioned Gnosticism and Neo-Platonism. Famous leaders of Gnosticism like Marcion lived either in the Parthian territories or had a large following within their lands, while the Egyptian philosopher Plotinus made a trip to the Parthian lands". [2] "We know that varied schools of philosophy flourished in Hellenistic Babylonia, and Greek metaphysicians, astronomers, naturalists, historians, geographers, and physicians worked there. The Parthian court made considerable use of such trained and able men for building its bureaucracy." [3]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Tafazzoli 1996, 90) Tafazzoli, A. and Khromov, A. L. Sasanian Iran: Intellectual Life. in Litvinsky, B. A. ed. and Iskender-Mochiri, I. ed. 1996. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Volume III. The crossroads of civilizations: A.D. 250 to 750. pp.82-105. unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0010/001046/104612e.pdf

[2]: Rezakhani, Khodadad. 2016. Arsacid Society and Culture. Accessed 06.09.2016: https://iranologie.com/the-history-page/the-arsacid-empire/arsacid-society-and-culture/

[3]: (Neusner 2008, 8-9) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.


Lists Tables and Classification:
present

DESCRIPTION "For an insight into the forms of Parthian taxation we can now look to the ostraca found in the citadel at the royal capital of Nisa. Almost 2,500 ostraca have been found since 1948 in the former wine-storage rooms at Nisa. All the documents date from the mid-second (no. 257 is of the year 97 = 151/150 B.C.) to the late first century B.C. and record payments of rent or taxes in kind, in this case wine." [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Raschke 1976, 824-825) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.


present

DESCRIPTION "Armenian accounts of trade routes such as Parthian Stations of the Isidore of Charax and other mentions in Armenian histories are an indication of the involvement of Armenians in the internal trade of the Arsacid Empire." [1] Isidore of Charax is called a Greco-Roman but Characene was at times Parthian held territory and its literate population that we have evidence for being interested in books such as his Parthian Stations or his original work which was perhaps titled A Journey around Parthia. Characene was the area of southern Mesopotamia. "We know that varied schools of philosophy flourished in Hellenistic Babylonia, and Greek metaphysicians, astronomers, naturalists, historians, geographers, and physicians worked there. The Parthian court made considerable use of such trained and able men for building its bureaucracy." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: Rezakhani, Khodadad. 2016. Arsacid Society and Culture. Accessed 06.09.2016: https://iranologie.com/the-history-page/the-arsacid-empire/arsacid-society-and-culture/

[2]: (Neusner 2008, 8-9) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.


present

DESCRIPTION "the Arsacid rulers consciously promoted the creation of a cultural unity within their core-territories. This is best reflected in the foundation and promotion of a mythical history for Iran, possibly based on an Avestan model, and the revival of what was seen as profoundly local in nature, including literature and orthography, best marked by a return to Aramaic alphabet as the main means of communication." [1] "The Hellenistic commercial aristocracy of the city [Seleucia] supported cultural endeavors, as patrons of literature, art, and academies." [2] "No literature remains from the Arsacids themselves. Greek served as their official language; Greek drama was cultivated at their court ..." [3] Scholars assume that most Parthian literature was oral [4] Mary Boyce comments, "No Parthian literature survives from the Parthian period in its original form. The only work of any length which exist in the Parthian language were composed under Sasanian rule.” [4] "The interest in oral literature in pre-Islamic Iran meant that, apart from state or commerical records and documents and, on rare occasions, religious works, nothing was written down until the Sasanian period. Secular oral literature was preserved orally by gosan (poet-ministrels) or khunyagar (story-tellers)." [5] "Epic stories, frequently in verse, remained an oral form until the Sasanian period". [6] inferred present on the basis of the presence of e.g. Greek communities but for Persian tradition only it would be inferred absent.

Reference(s):

[1]: Rezakhani, Khodadad. 2016. Arsacid Society and Culture. Accessed 06.09.2016: https://iranologie.com/the-history-page/the-arsacid-empire/arsacid-society-and-culture/

[2]: (Neusner 2008, 8) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.

[3]: (Neusner 2008, 18) Neusner, Jacob. 2008. A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period. Wipf & Stock. Eugene.

[4]: Boyce, Mary, ‘Parthian Writings and Literature’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), III, 1151

[5]: (Tafazzoli 1996, 82) Tafazzoli, A. and Khromov, A. L. Sasanian Iran: Intellectual Life. in Litvinsky, B. A. ed. and Iskender-Mochiri, I. ed. 1996. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Volume III. The crossroads of civilizations: A.D. 250 to 750. pp.82-105. unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0010/001046/104612e.pdf

[6]: (Tafazzoli 1996, 83) Tafazzoli, A. and Khromov, A. L. Sasanian Iran: Intellectual Life. in Litvinsky, B. A. ed. and Iskender-Mochiri, I. ed. 1996. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Volume III. The crossroads of civilizations: A.D. 250 to 750. pp.82-105. unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0010/001046/104612e.pdf


present

DESCRIPTION Evidence from Seleucia shows that the Parthians used the Babylonian system. [1] "In the indigenous Parthian lands the Zoroastrian calendar was also used beside the Seleucid era." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: G. R. F. Assar, ‘Parthian Calendars at Babylon and Seleucia on the Tigris’, Iran, 41 (2003), 171-91.

[2]: (Koshelenko and Pilipko 1994, 144) Koshelenko, G. A. Pilipko, V. N. Parthia. in Harmatta, Janos. Puri, B. N. Etemadi, G. F. eds. 1994. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizatins 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. UNESCO Publishing.


Information / Money
present

DESCRIPTION In Roman stone art c.170 CE from Coblenz: "The Parthian who proffers gold bars is not necessarily portrayed as an enemy defeated in battle but as a fascinating stranger from the East serving a rich Roman(ised) master in the West." [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Wiesehöfer 2007) Wiesehöfer, Josef in Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh and Stewart, Sarah eds. 2007. The Age of the Parthians. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. London.


present

DESCRIPTION e.g the drachm issued by Parthian mints. [1] Many coins have been found that were produced in the Parthian Empire and they are an important source in their own right. Gold and silver coins have been found from the Oxus treasury. [2] "The earliest coins are those of Arsaces I (c. 238-211 BCE) and Arsaces II (c. 211-191 BCE) which were perhaps minted at Mithradatkirt or Nisa, now in the Republic of Turkmenistan." [3] In the most economically advanced regions (e.g. Mesopotamia, Susiana, Margiana) a "vast quantity of small bronze coins" were minted. [4]

Reference(s):

[1]: David Sellwood, ‘Parthian Coins’, in Ehsan Yar-Shater (ed.), The Cambridge History of Iran: The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian Periods. Part 1, Vol. 3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 279-98.

[2]: A.D.H. Bivar, ‘The Political History of Iran Under the Arsacids’, in Ehsan Yar-Shater (ed.), The Cambridge History of Iran: The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian Periods. Part 1, Vol. 3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), p.29.

[3]: (Curtis 2007) Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh and Stewart, Sarah eds. 2007. The Age of the Parthians. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. London.

[4]: (Koshelenko and Pilipko 1994, 135) Koshelenko, G. A. Pilipko, V. N. Parthia. in Harmatta, Janos. Puri, B. N. Etemadi, G. F. eds. 1994. History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizatins 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. UNESCO Publishing.


present

DESCRIPTION Cattle were used in barter. [1] Taxes could be paid in kind, such as in wine. [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: Perikhanian, A., ‘Iranian Society and Law’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), III,p.672.

[2]: (Raschke 1976, 825) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.


Information / Postal System
present

DESCRIPTION Isidore of Charax wrote "Parthian Stations" on the postal stations maintained by the Parthians. [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Silverstein 2007, 13) Silverstein, Adam J. 2007. Postal Systems in the Pre-Modern Islamic World. Cambridge University Press.


absent

DESCRIPTION Isidore of Charax wrote "Parthian Stations" on the postal stations maintained by the Parthians. [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Silverstein 2007, 13) Silverstein, Adam J. 2007. Postal Systems in the Pre-Modern Islamic World. Cambridge University Press.


present

DESCRIPTION Isidore of Charax wrote "Parthian Stations" on the postal stations maintained by the Parthians. [1] "Roads were dotted with resting places or Caravanserais ... usually maintained by the local rulers, which provided the merchants and messengers, as well as their animals, an easy access to food, water, and fodder." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Silverstein 2007, 13) Silverstein, Adam J. 2007. Postal Systems in the Pre-Modern Islamic World. Cambridge University Press.

[2]: Rezakhani, Khodadad. 2016. Arsacid Society and Culture. Accessed 06.09.2016: https://iranologie.com/the-history-page/the-arsacid-empire/arsacid-society-and-culture/


Information / Measurement System
Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
absent

DESCRIPTION "according to Koldewey, Achaemenid, Seleucid, and Parthian builders generally used mud mortar." Quick-setting gypsum also known from Sassanian buildings. [1] "Other than a few cities in Mesopotamia, Parthian cities seem not to have been surrounded by walls, although some defensive preparations, such as the aforementioned fortresses and moats, have been identified in some sites." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Roger and Moorey 1999, 331) Roger, Peter. Moorey, Stuart. 1999. Ancient Mesopotamian Materials and Industries: The Archaeological Evidence. Eisenbrauns.

[2]: Rezakhani, Khodadad. 2016. Arsacid Society and Culture. Accessed 06.09.2016: https://iranologie.com/the-history-page/the-arsacid-empire/arsacid-society-and-culture/


present

DESCRIPTION City walls of Dura-Europos 1st century AD. [1] Walled cities mentioned in Chinese records. [2] Parthian walls at Hatra. [3] "Other than a few cities in Mesopotamia, Parthian cities seem not to have been surrounded by walls, although some defensive preparations, such as the aforementioned fortresses and moats, have been identified in some sites." [4]

Reference(s):

[1]: Lukonin, V.G., ‘Political, Social and Administrative Institutions: Taxes and Trade’, in The Cambridge history of Iran: the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods. Part 2, ed. by Ehsan Yar-Shater (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), vol. 3, p.718.

[2]: (Tao 2007) Tao, Wang in Josef in Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh and Stewart, Sarah eds. 2007. The Age of the Parthians. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. London.

[3]: (Rawlinson 2014, 213) Rawlinson, George. 2014. The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World, Or: Parthia; Sassanian, or New Persian empire; Notes and index. Gorgias Press LLC.

[4]: Rezakhani, Khodadad. 2016. Arsacid Society and Culture. Accessed 06.09.2016: https://iranologie.com/the-history-page/the-arsacid-empire/arsacid-society-and-culture/


present

DESCRIPTION Hatra had "inner and outer city walls surrounded by a moat". [1] "Other than a few cities in Mesopotamia, Parthian cities seem not to have been surrounded by walls, although some defensive preparations, such as the aforementioned fortresses and moats, have been identified in some sites." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Ring, Watson and Schellinger 2014, 122) Ring, Trudy. Watson, Noelle. Schellinger, Paul. 2014. Middle East and Africa: International Dictionary of Historic Places. Routledge.

[2]: Rezakhani, Khodadad. 2016. Arsacid Society and Culture. Accessed 06.09.2016: https://iranologie.com/the-history-page/the-arsacid-empire/arsacid-society-and-culture/


absent

DESCRIPTION No mention in sources so far consulted. Parthian army was small and cavalry based. After takeover of Persia and Mesopotamia Parthians did not campaign and mostly fought defensive wars. Due to mobile nature of warfare and lack of campaigns unlikely to have developed and/or required fortified camps.


present

DESCRIPTION Discovered at 2nd century BCE Parthian archaeological site near Bisitun. [1] Earthern rampart at Hatra, in addition to wall and ditch. [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Ring, Watson and Schellinger 2014, 122) Ring, Trudy. Watson, Noelle. Schellinger, Paul. 2014. Middle East and Africa: International Dictionary of Historic Places. Routledge.

[2]: (Rawlinson 2014, 213) Rawlinson, George. 2014. The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World, Or: Parthia; Sassanian, or New Persian empire; Notes and index. Gorgias Press LLC.


present

DESCRIPTION Ditch at Hatra. [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Rawlinson 2014, 213) Rawlinson, George. 2014. The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World, Or: Parthia; Sassanian, or New Persian empire; Notes and index. Gorgias Press LLC.


present

DESCRIPTION Earthern rampart at Hatra, in addition to wall and ditch. [1] Hatra had "inner and outer city walls surrounded by a moat". [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Rawlinson 2014, 213) Rawlinson, George. 2014. The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World, Or: Parthia; Sassanian, or New Persian empire; Notes and index. Gorgias Press LLC.

[2]: (Ring, Watson and Schellinger 2014, 122) Ring, Trudy. Watson, Noelle. Schellinger, Paul. 2014. Middle East and Africa: International Dictionary of Historic Places. Routledge.


Military use of Metals
present absent

DESCRIPTION May have imported high quality steel. Was the Artaxerxes sword a ’trophy weapon’ or representative of swords used by elite Persian forces? Could the same thing be said up until the time of the first manufacture of Damascene swords? "It is believed that Indian steel was exported in the early centuries A.D. and was known even in the time of Alexander. By the sixth century there is more definite evidence of the manufacture of Damascene swords and the steel used for this purpose came from India." [1] Artaxerxes II of Persia (Achaemenids, ruled around 400 BCE) had a Greek physician called Ctesias of Cnidus who was impressed by his sword of Indian steel. [2] [3] Use of Damascene steel certainly by 540 CE: "This unique type of steel was a major technological innovation and Iran played an important role in its production over the centuries. Circumstantial evidence suggests that a trade in a special steel, conceivably the ingots from which damascene steel was made, was underway in the Parthian and Sasanian period. Sometime after 115 A.D. the Parthians were importing iron (steel) from some point to the east" [4] "High-carbon steel was being produced in the eastern Iranian region from the tenth century CE." [5]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Abraham 1988, 171) Meera Abraham. 1988. Two medieval merchant guilds of south India. Manohar Publications.

[2]: (Singh 1997) Sarva Daman Singh. 1997. Ancient Indian Warfare: With Special Reference to the Vedic Period. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. Delhi.

[3]: (Ramsey 2016) Ramsey, Syed. 2016. Tools of War: History of Weapons in Ancient Times. Vij Books India Pvt Ltd.

[4]: (Piggott 2011) Pigott, V C. 1984 (2011). “Ahan.” Encyclopedia iranica. I/6. pp. 624-633. http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ahan-iron Site accessed: 25 September 2017.

[5]: (Goody 2012, 171) Goody, Jack. 2012. Metals, Culture and Capitalism: An Essay on the Origins of the Modern World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


present

DESCRIPTION Iron armour. [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Raschke 1976, 821) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.


present

DESCRIPTION bronze is made with copper: Heavy cavalry armour made from "rawhide, horn, iron, and bronze cut into scales." [1] "The standard turn-out would have included helmets of bronze or iron, sometimes with a neck guard and/or an aventail of lamellar, scale or mail, sometimes sporting a small plume of horsehair, either dyed or left natural; and a corselet of lamellar, mail or scale for the torso" [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Penrose 2008, 223) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


present

DESCRIPTION Heavy cavalry armour made from "rawhide, horn, iron, and bronze cut into scales." [1] "The standard turn-out would have included helmets of bronze or iron, sometimes with a neck guard and/or an aventail of lamellar, scale or mail, sometimes sporting a small plume of horsehair, either dyed or left natural; and a corselet of lamellar, mail or scale for the torso. Arm guards were also worn, and some wore guantlets too. The feet were often protected by armour over mail ’socks’, and mail was often used to bridge defences at limb joints. A small fabric tabard and/or cloak might be worn, and this was very likely to be made of a rich material such as silk brocade." [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Penrose 2008, 223) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


Projectiles
absent

DESCRIPTION "The only evidence for any knowledge of the use of siege engines East of the Roman frontier comes from Vani in Georgia where ballista shot of various calibres were found." [1] "the Parthians were not skilled nor equipped for sieges". [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Raschke 1976, 819) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.

[2]: (Farrokh 2007, 139) Farrokh, Kaveh. 2007. Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War. Osprey Publishing.


absent

DESCRIPTION First known use during Byzantine Empire.


present

DESCRIPTION "The infantry was composed of good quality hillmen, and of peasants who were of indifferent military worth." [1] Present in previous and subsequent periods.

Reference(s):

[1]: (Penrose 2008, 221) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


absent

DESCRIPTION Inferred absent due to availability of more powerful composite bow.


present

DESCRIPTION "The infantry was composed of good quality hillmen, and of peasants who were of indifferent military worth." [1] Present in previous and subsequent periods.

Reference(s):

[1]: (Penrose 2008, 221) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


absent

DESCRIPTION Inferred as came later. [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: DeVries, Kelly. "matchlock." In The Oxford Companion to Military History. : Oxford University Press, 2001.


absent

DESCRIPTION Inferred as came later. [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: DeVries, Kelly. "cannon" In The Oxford Companion to Military History. : Oxford University Press, 2001.


present

DESCRIPTION Light cavalry used compound bow. [1] "Monument D at Tang-i Sarvak shows a mounted soldier in scale armour on a horse protected by similar armour and armed with a long lance and bow." [2] "The mass of lesser nobles and their retainers were traditional horse archers, mounted on tough steppe ponies and armed with the reflex bow." [3]

Reference(s):

[1]: Wiesehöfer, Josef, Ancient Persia: From 550 BC to 650 AD, trans. by Azizeh Azodi (London ; New York: I.B. Tauris, 1996), p.148.

[2]: (Raschke 1976, 821) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.

[3]: (Penrose 2008, 221) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


absent

DESCRIPTION new world weapon


Handheld weapons
present

DESCRIPTION Secondary weapons of the heavy cavalryman "included a long sword, axe, mace and dagger." [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Penrose 2008, 224) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


present

DESCRIPTION Rock carvings of Firuzabad, third century CE, show sword (at least the handle of one), quiver for arrows and lance. [1] Secondary weapons of the heavy cavalryman "included a long sword, axe, mace and dagger." [2] Secondary weapons for the horse-archers: "Axes, short swords, daggers and sometimes long swords were secondary weapons worn at the belt." [3]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Robinson 1967) Robinson, H. Russell. 1967. Oriental Armour. Walker and Co. New York.

[2]: (Penrose 2008, 224) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.

[3]: (Penrose 2008, 225) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


present

DESCRIPTION "Monument D at Tang-i Sarvak shows a mounted soldier in scale armour on a horse protected by similar armour and armed with a long lance and bow." [1] Parthian cataphracts had a long, heavy lance. [2] 12-foot lance known as the kontos. [3]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Raschke 1976, 821) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.

[2]: (Debevoise 1938, 86) Debevoise, Neilson C. 1938. A Political History of Parthia. University of Chicago Press Chicago. https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/political_history_parthia.pdf

[3]: (Penrose 2008, 224) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


present

DESCRIPTION Plutarch mentions Romans had to face "long pikes" at Carrhae. [1] Are these polearms or lances? Parthians did not have much infantry so presumably these are the Parthian heavy cavalry. Cassius Dio [c. CE 155 - 235] in Roman History: “The Parthians make no use of a shield, but their forces consist of mounted archers and pikemen, mostly in full armour. Their infantry is small, made up of the weaker men; but even these are all archers. They practise from boyhood, and the climate and the land combine to aid both horsemanship and archery... They are really formidable in warfare, but nevertheless they have a reputation greater than their achievements, because in spite of their not having gained anything from the Romans, and having besides, given up certain portions of their own domain, they have not yet been enslaved, but even to this day hold their own in the wars they wage against us.” [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Ellis 2004, 38) Ellis, John. 2004. Cavalry: History of Mounted Warfare. Pen and Sword.

[2]: quoted in Ted Kaizer, ‘The Parthian and Early Sasanian Empires c.247 BC - AD 300’, in Thomas Harrison (ed.), The Great Empires of the Ancient World (London: Thames & Hudson, 2009), p.186


present

DESCRIPTION Secondary weapons of the heavy cavalryman "included a long sword, axe, mace and dagger." [1] Secondary weapons for the horse-archers: "Axes, short swords, daggers and sometimes long swords were secondary weapons worn at the belt." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Penrose 2008, 224) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.

[2]: (Penrose 2008, 225) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


present

DESCRIPTION Secondary weapons of the heavy cavalryman "included a long sword, axe, mace and dagger." [1] Secondary weapons for the horse-archers: "Axes, short swords, daggers and sometimes long swords were secondary weapons worn at the belt." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Penrose 2008, 224) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.

[2]: (Penrose 2008, 225) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


Animals used in warfare
present

DESCRIPTION Used by cavalry and archers on horse back. [1] Our information on Parthian armies comes mainly from their enemies, especially Roman sources. Like many central Asian armies, horses were central to their war fighting, foot solders less so. Parthian cavalry was divided into heavy and light forces. The ’Parthian shot’ became infamous to the Romans: Plutarch describes their tactic at the battle of Carrhae in 53 BC. Parthian cavalry pretended to flee, then turned in the saddle and fired their bow and arrows. [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: Josef Wiesehöfer, ‘Parthia, Parthian Empire’, in Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth (eds), The Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization (Oxford: OUP, 1998).

[2]: Ted Kaizer, ‘The Parthian and Early Sasanian Empires c.247 BC - AD 300’, in Thomas Harrison (ed.), The Great Empires of the Ancient World (London: Thames & Hudson, 2009), P.187


absent

DESCRIPTION "elephants seem to play no part in the Parthian army". [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Penrose 2008, 225) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


present

DESCRIPTION Donkeys were present in Persia during the Achaemenid period (used as pack animal by Darius the Great) so presumably were still there and could be used as a pack animal. [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Mayor 2014, 289) Adrienne Mayor. Animals in Warfare. Gordon Lindsay Campbell. ed. 2014. The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life. Oxford University Press. Oxford.


absent

DESCRIPTION No mention in sources so far consulted.


present

DESCRIPTION Camels in supply train at Carrhae. [1] "Bactrian camels began to be used for cavalry between 500 and 100 BC." [2] "There is evidence that Parthian archers also used camels on occasion, which had great stamina and gave a good advantage point from which to fire, but their effectiveness was limited due to their soft feet, which would quickly become injured walking on the debris of a battlefield." [3] Parthians used some archers mounted on camels. [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Debevoise 1938, 86) Debevoise, Neilson C. 1938. A Political History of Parthia. University of Chicago Press Chicago. https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/political_history_parthia.pdf

[2]: (Mayor 2014, 290) Adrienne Mayor. Animals in Warfare. Gordon Lindsay Campbell. ed. 2014. The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life. Oxford University Press. Oxford.

[3]: (Penrose 2008, 221) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


Armor
present

DESCRIPTION Plutarch on the Parthians at Carrhae: "tough breastplates of raw hide or steel". [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Ellis 2004, 38) Ellis, John. 2004. Cavalry: History of Mounted Warfare. Pen and Sword.


present

DESCRIPTION Cassius Dio [c. CE 155 - 235] in Roman History: "The Parthians make no use of a shield". [1] Present at Carrhae. Light cavalry probably had a small oval shield. [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: Ted Kaizer, ‘The Parthian and Early Sasanian Empires c.247 BC - AD 300’, in Thomas Harrison (ed.), The Great Empires of the Ancient World (London: Thames & Hudson, 2009), p.186

[2]: (Debevoise 1938, 86) Debevoise, Neilson C. 1938. A Political History of Parthia. University of Chicago Press Chicago. https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/political_history_parthia.pdf


present

DESCRIPTION Late Parthian: Rock carvings of Firuzabad, third century CE, show Parthians "have rounded helmets with curtains of scale or lamellar attached, scale or lamellar body armour covered by sleeveless surcoats, and both their arms and their legs are completely encased in laminated plates. The sleeves extend over the wrists on to the back of the hands." [1] "The remains of overlapping iron scales from a suit of armour have been found in excavations at Shaikhan Dheri (Charsada) ... Monument D at Tang-i Sarvak shows a mounted soldier in scale armour on a horse protected by similar armour and armed with a long lance and bow." [2] "complete scale armor for man and horse" [3] Heavy cavalry armour made from "rawhide, horn, iron, and bronze cut into scales." [4] "The standard turn-out would have included ... a corselet of lamellar, mail or scale for the torso." [4]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Robinson 1967) Robinson, H. Russell. 1967. Oriental Armour. Walker and Co. New York.

[2]: (Raschke 1976, 821) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.

[3]: (Debevoise 1938, xlii) Debevoise, Neilson C. 1938. A Political History of Parthia. University of Chicago Press Chicago. https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/political_history_parthia.pdf

[4]: (Penrose 2008, 223) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


present

DESCRIPTION Used to protect men and horses. [1] Suit of armour found at Nisa and another in a 4th century BCE tomb at Tchirik-rabat. [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: Wiesehöfer, Josef, Ancient Persia: From 550 BC to 650 AD, trans. by Azizeh Azodi (London ; New York: I.B. Tauris, 1996), p.148.

[2]: (Raschke 1976, 821) Raschke, Manfred G. in Haase, Wolfgang ed. 1976. Politische Geschichte (Provinzen und Randvölker: Mesopotamien, Armenien, Iran, Südarabien, Rom und der Ferne Osten). Walter de Gruyter.


present

DESCRIPTION Early Parthian: "Amongst the many graffiti discovered [at Dura] was one of a Parthian cataphractus dating from the second century A.D. It is a crude drawing - probably the work of a child - but still remarkably detailed and informative. The horseman wears a tall conical helmet with little streamers tied at the point. This would appear to be of segments or lamellae with a hood of mail falling to the shoulders. ... a skirt of mail. His arms and legs are barred with horizontal lines, which represent laminated armour." [1] Late Parthian: Rock carvings of Firuzabad, third century CE, show Parthians "have rounded helmets with curtains of scale or lamellar attached, scale or lamellar body armour covered by sleeveless surcoats, and both their arms and their legs are completely encased in laminated plates. The sleeves extend over the wrists on to the back of the hands." [1] Greaves on terracotta statuette of Parthian warrior. [2] "Arm guards were also worn, and some wore guantlets too. The feet were often protected by armour over mail ’socks’, and mail was often used to bridge defences at limb joints." [3]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Robinson 1967) Robinson, H. Russell. 1967. Oriental Armour. Walker and Co. New York.

[2]: (Rawlinson 2014, 213) Rawlinson, George. 2014. The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World, Or: Parthia; Sassanian, or New Persian empire; Notes and index. Gorgias Press LLC.

[3]: (Penrose 2008, 223) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


present

DESCRIPTION "The Persian royal horses are caparisoned, each one bearing rows of badges or symbols. Such trappers could have been of leather or quilted fabric with the devices applied in precious metals." [1] Plutarch on the Parthians at Carrhae: "tough breastplates of raw hide or steel". [2] Heavy cavalry armour made from "rawhide, horn, iron, and bronze cut into scales. Some horse-trappers were of thick felt". [3]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Robinson 1967) Robinson, H. Russell. 1967. Oriental Armour. Walker and Co. New York.

[2]: (Ellis 2004, 38) Ellis, John. 2004. Cavalry: History of Mounted Warfare. Pen and Sword.

[3]: (Penrose 2008, 223) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


present

DESCRIPTION Early Parthian: "Amongst the many graffiti discovered [at Dura] was one of a Parthian cataphractus dating from the second century A.D. It is a crude drawing - probably the work of a child - but still remarkably detailed and informative. The horseman wears a tall conical helmet with little streamers tied at the point. This would appear to be of segments or lamellae with a hood of mail falling to the shoulders. ... a skirt of mail. His arms and legs are barred with horizontal lines, which represent laminated armour." [1] Late Parthian: Rock carvings of Firuzabad, third century CE, show Parthians "have rounded helmets with curtains of scale or lamellar attached, scale or lamellar body armour covered by sleeveless surcoats, and both their arms and their legs are completely encased in laminated plates. The sleeves extend over the wrists on to the back of the hands." [1] "The standard turn-out would have included ... a corselet of lamellar, mail or scale for the torso." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Robinson 1967) Robinson, H. Russell. 1967. Oriental Armour. Walker and Co. New York.

[2]: (Penrose 2008, 223) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


present

DESCRIPTION Early Parthian: "Amongst the many graffiti discovered [at Dura] was one of a Parthian cataphractus dating from the second century A.D. It is a crude drawing - probably the work of a child - but still remarkably detailed and informative. The horseman wears a tall conical helmet with little streamers tied at the point. This would appear to be of segments or lamellae with a hood of mail falling to the shoulders." [1] Late Parthian: Rock carvings of Firuzabad, third century CE, show Parthians "have rounded helmets with curtains of scale or lamellar attached, scale or lamellar body armour covered by sleeveless surcoats, and both their arms and their legs are completely encased in laminated plates. The sleeves extend over the wrists on to the back of the hands." [1] Cassius Dio’s description of Parthian cavalry "in full armour" and depictions of helmets on coins. [2] "The standard turn-out would have included helmets of bronze or iron, sometimes with a neck guard and/or an aventail of lamellar, scale or mail, sometimes sporting a small plume of horsehair, either dyed or left natural". [3]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Robinson 1967) Robinson, H. Russell. 1967. Oriental Armour. Walker and Co. New York.

[2]: Ted Kaizer, ‘The Parthian and Early Sasanian Empires c.247 BC - AD 300’, in Thomas Harrison (ed.), The Great Empires of the Ancient World (London: Thames & Hudson, 2009), p.186

[3]: (Penrose 2008, 223) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


present

DESCRIPTION Cavalry wore chainmail. [1] "The standard turn-out would have included ... a corselet of lamellar, mail or scale for the torso." [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: Josef Wiesehöfer, ‘Parthia, Parthian Empire’, in Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth (eds), The Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization (Oxford: OUP, 1998).

[2]: (Penrose 2008, 223) Penrose, Jane. 2008. Rome and Her Enemies: An Empire Created and Destroyed by War. Osprey Publishing.


present

DESCRIPTION Plutarch on the Parthians at Carrhae: "tough breastplates of raw hide or steel". [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Ellis 2004, 38) Ellis, John. 2004. Cavalry: History of Mounted Warfare. Pen and Sword.


Naval technology
present

DESCRIPTION for a time had seventy valleys, tribute from Armenia. [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: (Debevoise 1938, 45-51) Debevoise, Neilson C. 1938. A Political History of Parthia. University of Chicago Press Chicago. https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/political_history_parthia.pdf


Human Sacrifice Data
Human Sacrifice is the deliberate and ritualized killing of a person to please or placate supernatural entities (including gods, spirits, and ancestors) or gain other supernatural benefits.
- Nothing coded yet.